After enlightenment, the laundry
I have, as TEG is too fond of reminding me, an unfortunate tendency to make Grand Pronouncements that yield little fruit and no follow through. I know that he is right, alas (though I wish he would stop reminding me all the time), but I feel that this time is different. Maybe all of those other times were just dress rehearsals for this one, or perhaps I had been waiting for the Universe to make things concrete for me. I don’t ask for much...perhaps a few cloud bursts, angels we can hear on high, or at least a rainbow or two. But, in keeping with the tenor of my new attitude, I figure the only one who should be blaring trumpets around here is me.
The question is, as always, how? The Buddhists say, “Before Nirvana, chop wood and carry water. After Nirvana, chop wood and carry water." Intellectually, I know that’s excellent advice (well, in my case it would be “craft writing, carry baby") but emotionally I have yet to make it stick. I’ve never been good at making my epiphanies concrete in the workaday world, so all of my lovely castles in the air tend to stay there. How would I be able to live out my new ideals in the face of cooking, diapers, bills, and mounds and mounds of laundry?
I pondered this question while strolling with Madam this afternoon, and then I hit on it. I would make a totem--a way to commit to my creativity and make it a partner on my journey. It seemed like the perfect way to start. And I’ve been so inspired by all of your gorgeous collages and art that I suppose that’s where the seed drifted in. Surprised by my childlike glee at my plan, I decided to stop at Michael’s on my way back from Starbucks Park. Now, one thing you should know about me, I Don’t Do visual art. Not for lack of desire. In college I took a photography class and was told my photos were too “verbal" and “literal", not paying enough attention to the pure visuals. I guess I like my photos to tell too much of a story. But, I reasoned, this totem would just be for me, and everything you all make looks so delicious, it would be fun to try.
A word about Madam lately. If anyone reading this thinks that babies are docile and cute until they become intransigent toddlers...well, Madam must be advanced in that regard. Gone is the baby who sat peacefully in her swing, chewing on her fists while I wrote out my morning pages. No, now she looks askance at my notebooks and shares me only grudgingly with the computer. It appears she sees them as rivals for my attention (and I suppose they are...sometimes inspiration strikes while she’s awake). It’s a bit like living with the world’s tiniest teenager. If she could walk, she would be stomping off to her room in tears and slamming the door at all sorts of moments. But she was peaceful enough, leaning back to watch the tree branches wave in the breeze, feeling the sun kiss her face. I thought I could chance it.
For some reason, I chose to leave Starbucks Park from a different direction--and passed an intriguing little shop. Now, I live in the suburbs, where almost every store is a chain and branded to within an inch of its life. This odd little store was an anomaly--individual, and clearly someone’s labor of love.
Madam and I entered the empty store, and I lit up to see all sorts of handmade objects and lovely, unusual jewelry. I thought, Surely I’ll be able to find a totem here...or at least something to use in the making of it!
The store clerk smiled warmly at us, the only customers in the store, and wandered over to coo and smile over Madam. Usually Madam is wonderful with strangers, but her Inner Teenager emerged and her little face crumbled as she let out the kind of wails that peel back my fingernails. I shot an apologetic glance at the clerk and wheeled us out of there pronto.
Madam continued to wail and I knew there would be no Michael’s for me this day. Maybe tomorrow.
Perhaps she wants to remain the only creativity totem in my life.