Living in Frames, by meshing the lyrical moments of life with the captured images of experience. This is a reverie, a journey, the fork in the road, and the never-ending story....

Monday, October 25, 2010

One Life.

Just this past week, I had the fortunate opportunity to be in the presence of a great writer and have the chance to hear them read their poetry to a room of three hundred plus people. Mary Oliver, one the most known and influential poets of the time, made an open-to-the-public appearance at the chapel of Wellesley College last Wednesday, and I knew if I didn’t make it a point to attend this event, I would probably regret it for the rest of my life. Not only has Mary Oliver’s writing inspired me in my own work, her words have helped me through some of the most difficult obstacles one must overcome; the death and passing of a loved one, fear of failing at one’s passion, understanding who you are “in the family of things”, and most importantly, how to love and let go.

Never have I been in a crowded room of so many people and experienced utter silence. Before she opened her mouth to speak, not a muscle moved, a breath released, or a throat cleared, and it was in that moment I realized I was part of something so special; a moment that would never occur again. I savored every part of that room; the ecclesiastical architecture, the evening light through the Tiffany stained glass windows, even the scent of coffee and womens' floral perfume. A woman of such grace and spirit deserved nothing less than a chapel of saintly worship. Though I do not necessarily believe in such idol praise, I would have kissed her feet for the wisdom she shared with me that day.

She introduced the poem “Wild Geese” and people clapped. She read the poems “Percy I, II, & III” about her dog and people laughed at her charming wit. But the most potent of her words, were the ones that left the room completely silent, except for the sound of a hundred beating hearts. For me, hearing “The Summer Day” read, was what resonated with me the most, and I think too with the rest of the audience. In the last stanza Mary Oliver asks:

“Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?”

Why I have kept repeating these words in my head, is not a real surprise. They came at a time when I needed to hear them said. Having just completed the first draft of a manuscript I have worked on for almost two years, I needed an affirmation. I needed to know that this work I have put my heart and soul into, has been all worthwhile. Then just as easily as I questioned the worthiness of my pursuits, I realized, of course it has been all worthwhile, because I did it all out of love.

To love is the most important thing a person will ever do in their life. To share a bond with another human being, and be inspired as a result, is the greatest gift one can possess or be given. My manuscript speaks to this; that no matter the outcome of any sort of relationship, in the end, it is the connection that was shared that matters most. As Mary Oliver says, it is about what you do, the print or impression you leave behind, and it is about making this one life really count. But when you get down to it, these are all expressions of love.

So, to the love of my life, the person who has inspired me the most, the one who taught me not to fear being an artist, this one, this life, it has really counted.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The End.

How does an artist know they have finished a work of art? How does a painter know a brushstroke will be his last? How does a musician know to end on that final note or lyric? How does the film maker know when to say, “that’s a wrap” or “cut!” or “finé”? How does the writer know when to write, “they lived (or died) happily ever after” or the words, “The End.”?

We just do. It’s with the same understanding that tells us we have a story inside us to share that also tells us when our story has finally been told. For an artist, each new body of art becomes a pursuit for answers, a soul-searching endeavor, and a quest for resolution. And as we spiral into a meaning, all is revealed, and finally it just, makes, sense. The whole reason why we do this thing that we do. Because there is nowhere else to go on from here. The “ah hah!” moment that we seek.

I would compare it to some orgasmic experience, but even that seems like a shallow comparison. Birth is the only experience that comes close to the fulfillment of creating something from nothing. To pluck out an idea or a feeling from the infinite vault of our imaginations, to nurture it, and to have it inspire us again and again, then to bring it to fruition and see the fruits of our labor in full, blossomed splendor. That is the reward. That is the addiction of choice.

I recently found myself saying, The End, and so soon begins a new chapter. I have about 8 months of revisions and rewrites, but the story is now complete, and sooner than I can imagine, I will be working on the next one. I look forward to using this new voice I have discovered along the way. I also hope to keep sharing it with you. Period.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

On the Other Side of the Glass

We meet people in our lives to tell us, and sometimes remind us, of who we are. Seeing yourself new again through the eyes of a stranger, allows you that momentarily thought of, "Should I be me?" or "Should I dress up in a disguise?" The disguise usually fades, becomes dull and senseless, and you are returned to your plain ole' self to the disappointment of others, and in the end, you.

Today I tried to see myself through others. No physical or verbal interaction was required of this task. I simply had to sit and wait.

I sat for an hour at the shipyard waiting for the freight ferry to arrive. I was headed to Oak Bluffs, not Oaks Bluff as corrected by Matthew, a native to the island. He warned that the slip was a sure sign of an off-islander and I would be taken advantage of if anyone caught on. I thanked him for the advice, because I didn't want to stick out, not in that way. But it became a game for me; my eyes moving from one person to the next, to everyone that came into my view; men on bicyles, one in denim shorts looking slightly more like a woman than a man; two little boys over near the Coke machine arguing over their purchase; beautiful women with perfect eyebrows, manicured toes, and designer sunglasses; the arthritic man with a cane and hunched back; the musician on the blue bench with a guitar and songbook and no other luggage, smiling about something he knew. I wanted to see who noticed me first or caught me looking at them. If our eyes met and theirs had already been directed my way, that meant I was the observee. If my eyes laid upon them unknowingly and remained there without a reaction or feeling of being watched, I was the observant. By the time the ferry arrived, I had found that the latter was the typical response, leading me to ponder my self-concious and my own sense of awareness and distinctness among the masses for the better part of the day and into the evening.

Sometimes I feel as though I am sending out so much energy, as if its pulsating beneath my core like sonic radar, attracting all the possible atoms to which I can stick and pull inside me. As if I could fold up the landscape and all those people and all that beauty like a map I would carry around in my back pocket. Other times, I am no one, I do not exist, or I am like the moth who doesn't know which side of the screen they are on, but keeps on flying toward some light far off in the distance.

On the upper deck of the boat, outside in the wind that tasted like salt when I breathed, I made a new friend. He was the one who noticed me first and after learning I was a fellow writer, I was allowed the privledge of reading a poem he had written that day. It was about an embrace between two people who didn't want to let go. The irony between his words and my newfound ideas about a world laden with attraction and detachment, made me think that when you ask for a sign or wonder if anyone is paying attention, it may not be the person right in your view that has caught your eye, but they are the other solo traveler who just happened to set down their bag right outside your peripheral. I guess even when you think you see it all, there is more to be revealed.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Wisdom

"It doesn't like it
when you don't stay inside the box,"
the man with the double-chin said,
while I was signing for my purchase.

"But that's the best part of life,"
I said.

He smiled a little.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Here, There, Now: A Transitory Life

I like to think about what I was in another life; a conquistador, a gypsy, a migratory bird. I have found through the years that I don't know how to stay settled, but I am quite comfortable being transitory. It's in my blood to always be moving, changing, learning, and growing. To some this may seem pathological, but I can't imagine an existence any other way.

It began at an early age. Only one year into my life, my parents moved me from Alabama where I was born, to New Hampshire, then from there my itinerary went something like this: New Hampshire to Maine, to Vermont, to Pennsylvania, back to Vermont, back to New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and back to New Hampshire again. I didn't have the house I was raised in, I had ten, and I am grateful for each and every one of them.

There is a beauty to change, yet so many fear it. The secret for me has always been, to make the best of any circumstance I get put in, (or put myself in). It's an if- I -am -here-I -might- as- well- enjoy -myself, sort of mentality. I treasure meeting new people and hearing their stories. (This must be the writer inside me, making an appearance). I fall in love with people all the time and not in a lustful, romantic way, but in the way in which they will forever be valued as an important presence in my life.

What's always been kind of funny to me, is when I try to imagine how others perceive me. I am the girl that floated through their lives and went on to other things. This only holds part of the truth you see, because I may have been a passer-through or passerby, but I was certainly never wistful in my adventures. Relationships have been the only constant in my life and I cherish these bonds, just as I cherish my belief in something larger than myself.

Another fascinating element to never being stationary is that with every place you go, you can try on various personas. I've tried on many hats and it usually changes with those I surround myself with. I believe in osmosis when it comes to human interactions; we are constantly influenced by our surroundings. We feed off each other and inspire one another, and depending on the situation, it can have its advantages or disappointments. I have yet to regret meeting anyone, but I have a handful of lessons learned.

From all the travels and the changes, the loves and the losses, there is one thing that is certain; life is about change. It's the phoenix rising again and again, it's the cast change of a play, it's improvisation in art, it's the reincarnation of the soul. And ultimately it's how well you ride life's tail winds, even when you don't know which way the wind will blow.

I am very excited for this new year and what it may bring. I wish you all a wondrous ride, too.
Here's to 2010!

Peace, Love, & Art.

Sarah