Change and Change Again

Cat Fink 'What Gives Me Joy Nov 21 2016 (nature)'
What Gives Me Joy Nov. 21 2016 (nature)

I am in the midst of choosing, organizing, and packing this week.  I’m making my seasonal move southwards three months early.  Leaving tomorrow.

I am a nester, not a traveller.  Yet, for the past thirteen years I have lived a transient life.  Depending on the time of year, I am in one of two places.  I keep studios at both.  Most of my drawing and writing is done in my northern studio where life is quieter.  In my southern studio I plan, gallery hop, visit, share inspiration with artist-writer friends.  Filling my creative well to the brim and overflowing.

Somehow, despite these two places, I do not feel at home.  It is the knowledge of another move to come in a few months that prevents me from feeling settled and grounded, even though both places are familiar to me.

I am talking about change.

Not all of this back-and-forth life is my choice, but much is.  I find and create and cherish the good.  I have beloved friends in each place, artists and writers and creators all.  They are a blessing.

Change and change again.  This was turning in my mind yesterday as I washed clothes, wrote lists, packed my studio, packed my life.  I picked up my sketchbook and opened to a 17th century haiku, carefully copied down three years ago.

The haiku speaks of change, unanticipated and perhaps not welcome.  It speaks of finding the blessing, something to cherish.  It speaks to how I feel each time I choose, organize, pack up my transient life.

“My barn having burned down

I can now see the moon.”

Samurai and Poet Mizuta Masahide, 1657 – 1723

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In this post:

I’ve found three translations of Masahides’ poem.  This is my favourite.

 

 

What The Dream Said

 

birdsonwithbluefeathers.detail
‘Bird Son With Blue Feathers’-detail

I am asleep.

I’m dreaming.

I’m sitting in a rowboat.  The boat is all wood.  We, the boat and I, are floating on a deep pond.  A fir and cedar forest rises beyond.  The water is rimmed by a grey rock beach.  The boat and I are still.

I watch a small, black and white cat step from the forest, across the beach, and into the water.

The cat swims, and then dives deep.  ‘I didn’t know cats could do that,’ I say.

I can see her, as though I am under water too.  The cat catches a large fish in her mouth, swims back to the surface, and returns to the beach.

She eats the fish.  She looks very satisfied with herself.

I wake.

I write my morning pages after breakfast.  Purple ink today.  It is snowing again.  The thermometer says -10 degrees Celsius.  The forecast says expect the same through this coming weekend.  Hmmm.  My eyes are beginning to get hungry for green.

I write out my dream.  I hear my voice again.  ‘I didn’t know cats could do that.’  I again feel my astonishment at something unexpected and new.  Since when do cats not only swim, but swim underwater?

Tigers swim, I write in my pages.  So do jaguars.  Why not small, black and white cats?

Why not me?  I am Cat.  I love swimming, and my dad taught me to dive.  I know how to dive cleanly and well.

If I dive deep, I will catch the words.  I will catch my book.

I sit very still.  My pen has stopped moving.  Exactly what Natalie says not to do.

The dream is talking to me.  I start writing again, to catch the words.

This second draft I am creating—I need to dive deep.  The dream says I’ve only been paddling along the surface, even staying safely on the beach in some parts of the story.

If I want my book to be fully realized, and I do, I can’t stay on the surface.  The book isn’t here.  The words and feelings I want are down below.

The pond is deep and clear and full of flashing, silver words.  I love words.  There is nothing to fear.  I know how to swim and dive and imagine and write.  I am good at all these things.

The dream says, take a breath, and dive.

The dream says, cats can do this.

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Natalie Goldberg’s first rule of writing practice is ‘Keep your hand moving.’  She also says ‘Shut up and write’.  I’ve invented a new writing rule for myself, ‘Shut up and dive.’  All of Natalie’s books are my favourites.  You likely already know Writing Down The Bones.  So go read The True Secret of Writing: Connecting Life With Language, Atria Books, 2013.  Really, the true secret of writing is in there.  Natalie spills the beans.  Thank you, Natalie, for showing me a way of being a writer, and spilling the beans.  http://nataliegoldberg.com/

 

 

Inspired by Anne of Green Gables

anne-of-green-gablesI’m in the midst of creating a mixed media drawing for the local gallery’s summer show.  Their theme is the story Anne of Green Gables.

The entire gallery, upstairs and down, will be filled with mannequins and miniatures by artist and costumer Korene Kidd of Prince George, BC.  The walls will be hung with artwork by local artists.

I read Anne of Green Gables four times, probably more, as a child and teenager.  Anne was my kind of hero.  She had red hair which I longed for.  Funny, that I had the raven hair she wished was hers.  I grew my hair long just so I could have braids and pretend they were red.

Although I didn’t get into Anne’s kind of scrapes, I did have the same imagination, loud and busy.  Beauty would stop me in my tracks, literally, as it did her.  Cherry blossoms against a blue blue sky.  A thrush deep in its morning song.  The stream that moved through the dark of the trees beyond our house.  Wonder and joy.

I’ve been reading bits of Anne’s story as I make my drawing.  I’ve discovered something.

When I read Anne years ago, I focused on the actions and thoughts of the characters.

When I read Anne now, I am pulled in by the emotions expressed in the story and mine arising in response.

Anne lives her life wide open to the world.  Her heart feels joy and sorrow, love and pain in ferocious, instant, equal measure.

As a child I read the words but did not understand.  I was cautious with my heart.  I kept my feelings private.  There were emotions I didn’t know what to do with.  They were either too huge or too terrifying to set free.  Love.  Joy.  Anger.  Grief.

I am no longer that child.  My heart lies open to my life, as Anne’s does in her story.

I learned to be open.  I began with feeling love and joy, and now I also know what to do with anger and grief.  Emotions no longer mystify me.  Well, most of the time.

This, I am sure, is why I am reading Anne in a different way.  I am reading with an open heart.

It’s the same story, same words.  It is me that is different.

Anne was written with an open heart.  I get to feel that now with every word I read.  What perfect joy to have discovered this piece of Anne’s story that had previously passed me by.  A gift.

My Anne drawing is titled ‘What Gives Me Joy (Anne of Green Gables)’.  It holds a list of joy that begins with ‘blazing red hair’.

My drawing ends with what I’ve learned from Anne, what has nestled in my heart.

Notice beauty.  Notice joy.  Cradle anger and grief, for they too need to be loved.  Find people and places and things to love in your life.

Thank you Anne and Marilla and Matthew and all.  Thank you Lucy Maud Montgomery, for letting Anne into your imagination and out to the world.

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In this post

L. M. Montgomery, 1874 – 1942. Book Anne of Green Gables, Running Press, 1993.  ‘I wrote it for love…’ page 286.   http://www.lmmontgomery.ca/

The Station House Gallery, Williams Lake, BC.  https://www.facebook.com/stationhousegallery/