Changing Forecast

Brilliant bloom in Joshua Tree National Park

Look how the sun has emerged, despite

expectations and the wringing of hands.

A new warmth arises on the April wind.


I am here again at an old crossroads:action

at odds with intention. Accomplishment sacrificed

to the short-term pleasure of just being here.

–Barbara Swift Brauer, from “Changing Forecast”

West Marin Review, Spring 2008

Do pardon my ridiculously long hiatus. What kind of devoted blogger just up and vanishes like that?

I vanished, alright. One day I was in East Point, Georgia, and the next day–poof! I was gone. For some reason, I thought I would manage to keep blogging throughout this latest relocation (yes, my second cross-country move in eight months). Over the last few weeks, I packed up everything I own and drove it over 3,000 miles to Petaluma, California.

After a brief affair with my native South–not to mention extra poundage primarily attributable to The Flying Biscuit–I feel lucky as hell to be back land of milk and honey (and all around healthier cuisine) known as California. It was touch and go there for a few months, as my partner and I hemmed and hawed over the prospect of an international relocation to Denmark. Ultimately–and no doubt to the disappointment of travel hungry friends and family–I decided that the San Francisco Bay Area feeds my work and life in a way that no place else can.

En route, I thought that I’d be able to pound out enthusiastic blog entries from, say, the scuzzy motel where we stayed in Henryetta, Oklahoma. War correspondents can write from Basra, after all. But I guess I’m just not hardcore like that. After a 10-hour shift at the wheel, anything I had to say was bound to be an incomprehensible stream of mush. Just ask my partner.

Continue reading

The Gift | Lewis Hyde

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In a fantastic little bookshop in Lenox, Massachusetts this week, I found a book called The Gift by Lewis Hyde. The title refers to that certain something we each individually have to offer. A kind of cult classic (recently going into its 25th edition) it was called “the best book I know of for talented but unacknowledged creators” by Margaret Atwood. I’m only partway through, but when I ran across this May Sarton quote, I knew I wanted to keep reading:

“There is only one deprivation … and that is not to be able to give one’s gift … The gift, turned inward, unable to be given, becomes a heavy burden, even sometimes a kind of poison. It is as though the flow of life were backed up.”

If we can’t find a way to share what we have to offer–and many can’t at their day jobs–we’re lost. But I believe that we are meant to continue trying.

Resilience | W.C. Fields

“Don’t worry about your heart. It will last as long as you live.”–W.C. Fields (shown below dispensing stellar financial advice)

Rejection, sweet rejection … Send me more rejection letters, Dear Publishers!! I can take it. In fact, I live for it. Besides, my heart, like Fields’, has been known to bounce back like a rubber ball.

Astonishment | Mary Oliver

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I referred in my last post to a type of inner work that, for me, trumps the prospect of a permanently nine-to-five existence. I think Mary Oliver knows what I mean (but then, there’s little that she fails to grasp).

Messenger

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

Mary Oliver

Home | Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens

“When I speak of home, I speak of a place where–in default of a better–those I love are gathered together; and if that place were a gypsy’s tent, or a barn, I should call it by the same name notwithstanding.”

–Charles Dickens

I loved coming across this quote on Thanksgiving Day. I’ll certainly keep it with me as I spend the holiday season traveling, and continuing trying to cultivate that sense of home wherever I go.