I love a good historical mystery, particularly those that are set at the turn of the 20th century. I learn a lot from a well-researched novel. My favorite decades are the 1920’s and 30’s, basically the years between the two world wars. It’s uncanny, if you’re a history buff like I am, how you can follow the social, political, economic and scientific events of those years in the last century, and see how they parallel similar events happening now in this one. People really were clueless, dancing and spending their merry way into two world wars. It’s interesting how journalists like Dorothy Thompson tried to sound the alarm, and yet no one paid attention until it was too late. But maybe that was the plan all along?
Just returned from an evening walk, and looking forward to finishing bell hooks “Bone Black,” Memories of Girlhood. It’s my second reading, and while I usually don’t like rereading books, this one is lyrical and dreamlike, perceptive and raw, and shares a spirited girl’s journey to becoming a writer.
Looking forward to working more with my journal today. I used to do morning pages religiously, as well as other practices that I learned about while doing Julia Cameron’s workbook, The Artist’s Way, years ago. An artist friend I met through dance strongly encouraged me to work with it and when I finally got around to it, it was a joy to work with. It kept me grounded on a daily and weekly basis. I’ve often thought of revisiting it, possibly with a small group, but wondering if I even have the attention span for it anymore. Perhaps it’s a good time to find out.
I aspire to live in a land of magic and wonder, and occasionally I realize that I already do. It’s just sometimes I forget. One of the reasons I love vintage pieces is for the stories they hold, and I’ve always loved a good story. The excerpts below from Mary Ruehle’s book of poems, “Dunce,” speak to this. They are from the poem “Inglenook.”
“I live in the museum of everyday life,… Open daily, the doorknobs are covered with curated fingerprints and pass on the latest news.”
“The strange antlered language of phantoms” (quote from Mary Ruefle’s book of prose, “My Private Property”) and flickering shadows playing in the corners of your simple mind…the one that’s in tune with your body and what your body knows from centuries of carrying this knowledge in the DNA that flows from ancestors through their descendants. It’s the more powerful of our two minds, for it is pure instinct and sensual knowing before language steps in to confuse an eternal and universal consciousness.
Books. They are as necessary as breathing to me. Actually, that’s a “slight“ exaggeration, but barely. At the beginning of the pandemic, when the libraries shut down, as the weeks dragged on and I watched my stack of library books dwindle, I tried to pace myself so I wouldn’t run out of them. It’s not that I couldn’t rustle through my own collection of books to find something to read if I really needed to, but I love libraries for the vast choices available — for free — and to suit every mood and interest. I have about twenty books out now, and should we end up with another shutdown, I am well prepared — with culinary histories, mysteries, poetry, and ecological essays and American Indian ethnobotany. Yep, something for every mood and whim.
What if we led poetic lives? To the best of each of our circumstances? If only it were that easy, but it’s not. So many choices we make with the hand we are dealt lead us down paths that make that poetic life a luxury rather than the core of our existence. And some of us are just dealt a lousy hand. I don’t regret many of my choices, only the ones that caused hurt to someone else. Besides, just for today I can choose the poetry. “Every day you play with the light of the universe.”
– Pablo Neruda
I have all kinds of ideas for posts running through my thoughts, but when it comes down to writing the words out, I sometimes draw a blank. Such is writer’s block, something I know well. One of the lessons I’ve learned as a writer is that, like everything else in our daily personal journeys, there is always an ebb and flow.
In the case of writer’s block (and just about everything else), once I surrender to that awareness, allow myself to experience whatever phase it is, and if the ebb tide, just stop to enjoy the pause, and if anything, move my hands and feet with stitch work, knitting, an Edward Gorey jigsaw puzzle, dancing, walking, etc. — before long I end up back in the flow I so desire to be in. I am finding this Wednesday to be a good day for that pause. Besides, pauses and the art of daydreaming are two skills it is always a good thing to practice.
It’s not that I wanted yesterday to happen, but sometimes people have to see something for themselves — you can’t tell them, regardless of what facts, science, etc. may support. But if they see it with their own eyes? Perhaps. Actions speak louder than words. For those who missed the obvious yesterday — there are still honorable journalists speaking and writing about it. White supremacy and cock-eyed “American” justice was there for all the world to see. Unless, of course, you continue to suffer from snow blindness. For those who don’t but perhaps do continue to believe in an America offering liberty and justice for all — there are a couple of excellent, easy, engaging and engrossing stories about the hidden (and not so very hidden) truths of the foundations of our beloved (still, perhaps?), yet flawed country. If you haven’t yet, please consider reading Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen and
A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn.
Hyper-connectivity is messing with my receptivity, which messes with my ability to truly connect, so for this first month of 2021, I am taking a sabbatical from posting on my Instagram page. That’s not really the hard part for me though. The hard part will be resisting that urge to constantly connect or engage in some way. I’ve still commented on a few posts but the goal for me is more meaningful connection, and if I have any presence there in January, it will be connecting with people through their stories or their private messages, rather than on a regular post. I feel lost in the crowd there, and crowds have always overwhelmed my senses to the point of distraction and sometimes distress.
I will not be totally gone from social media, but I do find that I need the more contemplative format that blogging allows for — after all, the blog, a web log, a “live” journal of our days — it is what social media once was without all the noise attached. I want to return to that — to its soothing analog pace. I hope for more conscious and deliberate connection with the neighbors in my virtual world, and look forward to meeting some of you here.