“A glorious something else awaits.”
~Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things
I sit with the sadness this morning. Like so many of us in this time of so many griefs big and small. Not anything in particular really. I am fine actually, personally, just now. The sun is beginning to peek through the clouds and it looks to be a potentially nice day. I may get to see my sister today, from afar, and we will relinquish the little red dragon back into his normal life back home with her and her support team. He is welcome back here any time of course but I know he will bring her comfort between her shifts in the ER.
Here, comforts are bursting forth from the ground up. The long (long) awaited deer fencing is up so we can finally grow some proper food in a real garden bed.
A few things are in the ground of course already. The cold weather kind. And it looks nice to have some life amidst the structure of it all.
I have nothing against deer really. Like all of us they are just trying to make a living in the world. But they are decimators of plant life. And so, while most of our little acre is at their disposal to wander and chew, we’ve cordoned off just this little bit for ourselves. I’ve thought for a long time that growing some of our own food could be paramount. I always thought this notion might be a bit dramatic really. But now it all seems closer to home. Closer to reality.
“Oh the summertime is coming
And the trees are sweetly blooming”
~trad. Irish/Scottish folk song
I am grateful it is spring time. It is good to walk and watch the wild world come alive. A normal spring time here would see my work year ramping up into full gear. Today I was due to be waking up in California, ready to find the weekend’s sketching spots for the upcoming weekend. Well, we all know how that panned out.
And I would usually be chomping at the bit to get back to the Land of Enchantment for a taste of big skies and grand ideas and the feeling that anything is possible. That is Taos for me. But, alas.
A thousand tiny griefs.
It is a difficult balance in this strange new era of corona to make space for all the grief. We as a culture are so quick to categorize the griefs and the joys as big or small, important or trivial – at any given time. And here’s the thing, we don’t know what one thing or another might mean to any other person but our own true selves. The joy of a new sunrise to one person might be equal to the birth of a child to another. Circumstances differ. We must make space for what that sunrise means to that one person on that very day.
I think the same holds for grief. There is so much of it just now. But it does us no good to hold one grief up against another for comparison. Better to just allow. and honor. All of it. It’s hard to do. I’ve been heartbroken this last week or so with the cancellation of not only my Taos work, but the magical week of Swannanoa as well. I had a good long snot cry over each of these in the bath, I’ll be honest. I’m doing my best to honor these losses, to give them space, even while I read the headlines of the death toll mounting, and hear stories of the front line from my sister and her co-workers.
All of it is heart breaking. We must make space.
And we must compost this grief and cultivate joy in this space.
It can feel a bit like a roller coaster of emotions of late. I was saying to a friend the other day that if this time teaches us nothing else, it is giving us lessons in the notion of being as fully present as possible in each and every moment. We don’t know if the things to which we look forward will actually come to fruition. It is a new horizon in tech as we all try to connect real time with our beloved communities and families. I can say for the record that the incorrect connecting device for one’s computer might actually drive one to tears (again) and another lost connection is added to the list of a thousand griefs.
And so how to navigate?
“Look at how a candle can both defy and define the darkness.”
I am fortunate to know many who somehow manage to exist above the fray. I look to them for inspiration. The other day Nuala Kennedy took to the airwaves to do a little concert. It was inspiring and honest and beautiful. Much like Nuala herself.
A couple of far flung artist friends of mine are offering up their teaching online in beautiful ways as well. Erin Lee Gafill of Nepenthe in Big Sur, California has a lovely community built over on facebook if you look for “Awaken The Artist Within”, and her tutorials are over on YouTube. Here’s a sample.
Erin is lovely and calm and brilliant in her scope of experience. She brings a soothing presence to the canvas and to her teaching. Getting into the paints is on my list of joyful things to do in these pandemic times….
Fabian Hernandez is an artist I met down in Antigua and he too is offering some video tutorials for free over on Facebook. I know Facebook is the devil in so many ways, but it is an easy platform in a difficult time. I find myself finding community there (as well as frustration on occasion too) more than usual. This is to be expected and forgiven.
And so, here we are. In need of a bang trim, trying our best.
My friend Rosemary says “I can get used to just about anything, if you just give me a minute or so to adjust.” And I agree. (My metaphor for this same idea is that ” I am not a tug boat in the harbor, more like an ocean liner, and it takes me a bit of time to turn course.” But you get the picture.)
We are here for a while it would seem and every day brings new challenges. Like everyone I am learning to sit with it all. Learning to get my head up in the clouds when needed to get a 30,000 ft view over it all for some perspective. As the weather improves the garden will go on, giving me focus. I can get out into the back room (currently under construction) to play some music perhaps. I’m being more mindful in the last week or so as to what I say yes to. This to give space to the grief that is and the grief that is to come. And the joy.
I am trying to see all of this as the space I have been craving for awhile now. But I do miss my friends. Especially the musical ones.
*small disclaimer: I write this from a place of deep privilege which is not lost on me. I am deeply aware of the bigger broader world, this is just my artful snippet of it. Don’t forget to vote. wherever you are.