Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Unexpected Familiar

In the dining room where lately I write, a map of the United States torn near Maine, twelve yellowing snowflakes cut three winters earlier, bunches of dried clover on shelves and in vases, potpourri made from last summer's roses, a brass tea kettle and brass candle holder from early twentieth century Greece, hand-carved wooden geese I bought Chrisoula in Vermont when so much of it was still before us, or seemed to be, three yogurt containers piled with assorted rocks from Bronson Brook, a picnic basket the cats like to sleep in, a heart-shaped jewelry box filled with mostly blue marbles, one drum, one hand-carved statue of a pregnant momma from Kenya gifted us a decade or so earlier, a dozen home-made candles in various stages of melt, and on the wall a 2012 calendar which I refuse to take down because December's painting was of a cardinal alert on ice-encased holly branches looking back across his shoulder toward me.

I tell my writing students that when all else fails, make lists and go deeply into them. There is always another level! It's more fun that it looks, kind of like leaving the trail to poke through unexplored forest and finding - here is the title to today's twenty sentences - the unexpected familiar.

In other words, the specific yields the general - it is the nature of spirals - including God. Thus, attention given to detail is never not toward awakening. Thus Dickinson, letters and poems. Thus this, this way.

In my dream - one of them, close to waking - I sang "hold on, hold on" with such power it was like there was no I, only a voice moving through me gratefully - and then - realizing I was singing that way - completely lost it and sang in the same scratchy self-conscious tenor I never don't manage, a reminder that one cannot will authenticity but only allow it.

Aurobindo instructive as always: "In reality, all experience is in its secret nature knowledge by identity; but its true character is hidden from us because we have separated ourselves from the rest of the world by exclusion, by that distinction of ourself as subject and everything else as object . . . "

Wind still howling as last night when Sophia and I locked the chicken shed, talking about the importance of context in any piece of writing, and how hard it is to work it in with subtlety, and how in the end it's a matter of trust, which is not our strong suit, and we laughed because what else can you do but be what you are, writerly and otherwise, and our laughter was caught up in the gusty wind and blown a couple hundred miles east to the sea.

Redwinged black birds crowd the feeder. In a couple weeks they'll be homey in swampy reeds abutting the fire pond, building nests and tending eggs. I'm trying to let them be this spring, not symbolize them, not freight them with the burden of my misplaced - still! - identity.

A new combination of tape and glue seems to be holding my glasses together, facilitating a  less-precarious reading experience. Hold on!

All we are really doing is saying again what was said before, trying to adjust it for new listeners lost in their own particular shared dream. Writing is grace when given to that purpose, attended not by angels but by the pure nature of Love, which is in you but not of you, and longs to extend through you, your writing.

We frame the lovelier paintings as if product rather than process were what matters. The pine siskins remind me if I want to find North I have to keep moving, keep writing, keep feeding others, let sky be sky and sing from even the lowest branches.

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