Monday, February 25, 2013

Silent Running

The little wooden sled never went very fast
But that never mattered  

The first few trips down the gentle slope of the back yard
Were tedious
Cutting and packing the path that the next 4 or 5 dozen passes would follow,
Those first few leaving rusty orange runner lines in the pure white snow

Once the path was defined, I'd bring out the flags
Sixteen or so of the countries of the world
The ones that I included in my own backyard olympic event
Nordic and European
The US, Russia and Canada
Each tiny one drawn by hand, cut out
Pasted to a popsicle stick

And off I'd go
Each trip, after a running start, flowing across the yard
Down into the vacant lot
Then winding back along the sidewalk in front of the neighbors house
The last 20 feet, the sled moved just slightly faster than a crawl
And when all motion would stop,
A flag would be planted in the snow
The mark to beat
And back up for the next nation's run. . . 

These games were always played when my mother was at work
And my grandmother likely sleeping or watching the soaps

I knew, if they looked out the window and saw me,
The inevitable questions would come
"What are you doing honey?"
"Are you just going to ride that sled all day?"
"What are those little pieces of paper down there?"

My grandfather, though he would check on me out the house windows as much as anyone,
Never asked me those questions
Never interrupted the games
Never seemed confused by the 10 or 11 or 12 year old's imagination
To me, that silence always spoke volumes about what we shared
And every moment I sit and indulge my imagination today
The silence connects us

nicolas hall

Monday, February 11, 2013

Hide and Seek

Recently, while reading the blog of one of my customers from Etsy, I realized something that I feel is very critical to describing who I am and what my core beliefs of happiness are.

The blog is a spiritual based one and, I knew that this particular customer has, as many of us do, fallen in and out of their practice be that spiritual or creative)  and was having some life difficulties during these times.

Their return to regularly blogging and practicing their spiritual path, marked a noticeable increase in their happiness and feeling good about themselves and their world again.

As that sank in, I realized that it is the same path for many of us in life. That, whatever it is we love, if we approach it with a spiritual regularity, we will likely find peace and happiness within. This happiness is, of course, not linked in any way to our lifestyle, standard of living, wealth, or even physical health. . . indeed it is something that we may foster to transcend all the difficulties that we may encounter in this physical realm and turn to in our search for solace and comfort and, most importantly, an understanding of self.

Growing up I would say my grandmother and mother were my finest teachers of this phenomenon though in completely different manners.

A devout Catholic, my grandmother went to church every Sunday well into her 80’s despite having difficulty getting around and she prayed the rosary and lit candles daily. Her faith was, not unshakable, but rooted and solid. Her personal polestar. . . and it saw her through many, many difficult times. One of the things that scare me to death as a child was how any mention of something fun. . .a drive to the park, a trip to the candy store. . . a ride in the country, , , was always followed by the stipulation that we would go “if we live.” So, “Oh honey, how about Monday we go get you some new things for school. . . if we live.” It was just matter of fact to her that we might not live to monday but her faith made that a fact, not a fear. 

 Now in comparison, my mother’s spirituality was her work and her job (and I should add, raising me). Hostess and waitress 5 or 6 days a week at an Italian restaurant. mother 7 days a week and then, when that became too much for her physically and I was grown and off on my own, she took a part time job office cleaning with her cousin. Work was her belief. Her trust in things being right. When grief hit the family, she was always better when she could go to work for 8 hours and put her mind elsewhere. I understood that as being a path as well.

In both of these examples there was something in the routine and the comfort each felt in their own way that was spiritual and not, even in my grandmother’s case, simply religious. My grandfather had an even larger impact in this way too, though it was clearly more beneathe the surface and will be looked at separately in future posts.

For me, that spirituality of life has always been my creativity. It is my absolute core foundation. My rock. If I practice it daily I am happier than I could be doing anything else. And it took me years to realize that my happiness in life was tied directly to it. That it was in every manner a spiritual sort of approach I needed to cultivate. 

 I spend each day creating and doing the hard and often exhausting work of selling what I make to allow me the gift of continuing along this path. . .  and as I grow within it, I see distinctly, the paths of my grandmother and mother that are part of my own path and my success.  I create religiously. . . I work religiously. . . I follow my soul as a spiritual path and, while it took me 40 years to figure out how to do that, I am grateful for the practice of all these years that prepared me for it here and now. 

I also am a huge believer in geography as metaphor for most of my life.  It shows in so much ofmy creative output.  I find geography is a polestar for my soul. Books like Kathleen Norris’ “Dakota: A Spiritual Geography” stories like  Barry Lopez’ “The Mappist”, even songs like Howard Jone’s “Hide and Seek” have all embedded themselves into my consciousness and are  like Psalms to me.  . and the writings and lectures of John O’Donohue  a man who I feel possessed a perfect blend of religion, philosophy and awareness of life’s depths in all of his writing who said:

“Your soul knows the geography of your destiny. Your soul alone has the map of your future, therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of yourself. If you do, it will take you where you need to go, but more important it will teach you a kindness of rhythm in your journey.”

I’ve always been so close to that rhythm and maybe just a quarter beat off. . . and all of these things through the years were signposts. .. pointing me to the place I belonged. . .  then it clicked . . . fell into place . . . this is my spiritual path. My practice.

I am a maker-of-things. Nothing more, nothing less.
That is my home

I only feel “right”. . . “centered” . . . and at peace. . .  when I am doing this daily.
It is MY unshakable belief

I hope you find the same with everything you see within too.