Sunday, May 23, 2010

November, Friendly Helpers and a worthy goal.

A beautiful morning. My underwear is flapping on the line like Tibetan prayer flags, to quote a comparison by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love and someone who I'm compared to frequently by both friends and acquaintances after hearing a little of my story up until today.

I've had two big dreams since I was a little girl. 1) To be an artist. 2) To write books. I used to write and illustrate books that I gave to my cousin. When I was six. In my thirty years I've probably started twenty, then left them there like marble statues not freed from their blocks. I've even contemplated what it would be to publish a book of book concepts. There would be so many chapters it would need to be in the reference section of the library.

So now, at half past thirty, where do I stand?

 I've become an artist. Don't look at whether or not I make my living from it or how often I spend my days at the easel, in the galleries, mingling with the artsy crew... it's become integrated in me and my mind is always working even when my hands can't. When I wake up in the morning, it is with an artist's heart. When I look out the window, it is with artist's eyes. When I'm struck with an idea, I write it down. I draw it out. What is art? For me, it is the way you go through your every moment, looking for the spectacular and doing your damndest to communicate it somehow so the world can see it the way you do.

This is open for discussion because there will never be an easy definition for Art, or art, or a-r-t, but I believe it's arrogant and presumptuous to dismiss the simple woman who is constantly rearranging the tops of her table, using a critical eye and an aesthetic point of view specific to her, as anything other than an artist. The punks putting time and effort into their grafitti work, also artists. The cook arranging the beets around the cut cucumbers with love and attention, the man who adheres objects to a cement post for no other reason than he believes it's something that should be done... all of these are artists and the world is a better place for having them.

So, dream one, accomplished. The only thing lacking is steady, concentrated application, a little luck and a mustard seed of ambition. The hope is that one day I'll get to do it all day, every day and people will be knocking down my door demanding more. It would be nice, and it's not, actually, so unrealistic in my head. I'm still a little green is all. Only thirty? The little girl version of myself wasn't wishing to be a trendy up and comer. The eighty year old version of myself prefers to look back at someone who slowly marinated, progressed and matured with grace and in the end puts out something that is a window to another universe, one that gives sparkle and changes the way you see the little things, the forgotten things, the unseen. The eighty year old version of myself will probably still be doing it, should I and the world both make it together.


Last November, I got a mysterious email in my inbox from a supporter known only as "Friendly Helper." Friendly helper shows up in my inbox from time to time with just a message, a note, a link to an article, a photograph, a quote, a poem, an idea... and to let the mystery continue, these things are ALWAYS pertaining to what I am going through at that specific point in time. An example: I was deliberating making a drastic change of lifestyle, selling everything and getting the heck out of the USA.


when the blog writing had stalled, an email with just this as the subject:


 and these links.

And last November


Something I didn't know about. An organization trying to pump up all of the would be writers in the world, get them to work at a crazy pace for the period of one month. While all of the rest of the world is preparing for obscene holidays of decadence and overconsumption, dope up on coffee, burn your retinas by the light of your laptop and write your bleedin' heart out.

I signed up, but I hadn't geared up. It didn't take and I said, "Next year."

My 100 day challenge began 38 days ago. That's 38 posts ago. I hear it takes sixty days to form or break a habit. I factored that in along with 100 days to form a plot and a little extra because I hate being crunched for time. This means I started my 100 day challenge 200 days before the month of November, when I intend to check into a little room (at this moment the thought is the village of Delphi where I get close access to the oracle, lucky me) until the 21st of November when I intend to fly to San Francisco and participate in a write-a-thon fundraiser to support creative writing workshops for children across the country (the American one.)

Those who know me are surely so staggered at the idea of my doing all of this pre-meditating, calculating and planning that they've started rereading... sure that they got something wrong, but it's a real dream, an attainable goal, and I've already sent out some emails asking for sponsorship.

So now it's really real.

By the way, FH had this to say about Elizabeth Gilbert in an indirect way:

"There is a difference between sounding funny, candid and likable and sounding petty, conceited and fickle. I was genuinely surprised by the lack of empathy Ms. Gilbert had for anyone. Every situation, every comment, every sidestory pointed squarely to herself and her personal problems."

"This book reminded me of a quote that's served me well in life: "It's a sign of maturity when you begin to fall out of love with your own drama." The author clearly hasn't reached this stage on her path to "enlightenment"!"

"You can get through this section of the book fairly quickly by skimming paragraphs replete with the personal pronoun. If you see a lot of "I" this and "I" that, you are in a section on spiritual insight and can just move on."

"She wants to appear as a hip, clever, wise soul-searcher. Instead she comes across as a self-absorbed, vain teen-ager. "

"I'm embarassed to have bought this."

"After then seeing her on Oprah and watching all these bored housewives talk about how insightful she was it felt cult like, like all these people needed to be told by some wack-a-doo that they are worth it? Please..."

The comparisons to Ms. Gilbert have started to make me wary...

My book will probably not be about myself. Or at least not intentionally. Rather, it will be a window to another universe to remember the forgotten and the unseen. Why change subject matter just because I'm in a different medium?

Because from my understanding the people reading this are friends and people who care, I really believe in your positive thinking. Would you keep it coming, please? On my honor, I'm returning the favor. My opinion of this place called Earth is not the glowy, promising one that I had when I was a little girl. Not even the one that I had when I was twenty, but when I sit back and admire some of the people I've collected around me as true friends, I'm astonished at my good fortune. Tomorrow I'm going to write about someone who hasn't been as lucky.

See you then.