Outer World/Inner World and the Magic of Practice

I'm intending this space towards art and craft. A seed, if you will, or a backdrop, or a public accountability foundation, for embodying a daily writing practice again. And keeping it. 

Otherwise, as we know, I'll just keep spilling my inner world raw and messy in the moment all over this thing. And we know (I say it all the damn time) that this raw, real sharing is a big part of my aesthetic, my more gritty-spiritual/live-your-real-out-loud-if-ya-feel-it practice. But, in truth, it's only half of it. I need a quiet, sacred practice of spill, then craft. Expand, contract. Express, then form. 

Since I left New Mexico, the only way I could stay connected to language, words, and art was by doing this here. It healed/is healing me. I'm a mucky mess of rebirth every day. It looks wildly different every day. Sharing it when I can reminds me that I'm still a writer, even when I'm not writing much. Even when I'm not crafting perfect lines or thinking about poetry and revision. I'm still making something. I'm still offering it. And in return, I've been ingesting and digesting the world as art. I've been participating in the give and take of creation, in little ways. And since the root of the word poem is a created thing, I'm telling myself that it's all poetry all the time over here, baby. Until I believe it. Until I start seeing again and then documenting it like my life depends on it. This is how we keep going, right? We accept and respond to things as they are in order to make real change. We love and keep making things, anyway. Despite. Even if there's no time. Especially if there's no time. We tell ourselves that we are doing the thing even when we aren't sure if there is any thing to show for it.

See, look at me go. 

I remember a teacher, probably Tim, telling me once, after reading my long long sprawling poem drafts, that big ideas and huge emotional narratives/lyrics need a form. I've always resisted form. I want to take up space and collect as much as I can on the go. The problem is that I could never quite get a grasp on my subject matter (or my body, or my desires, or my fears) because there was no container. No boundary. If you know me, you know I am all of this all the time and it takes a lot of presence and practice to get my nervous system to be still and focus on one thing. I can literally take anything to the ends of the galaxy and back and barely take a breath. I've learned to accept this about myself, about my art. That I can take up space and resist shame. That I can be still and strong and grounded and at the same time, expansive. I can be both. But I had to accept form as practice. Grounded, quiet, daily practice as holy. I'm still working on this, obvs.

So, the point. The form. The intention: I don't want to box myself in here too much by giving ultimatums or deadlines or have-tos. But I do want to practice daily witnessing in language. If we're all inner world, we forget to see the magic in the world of things, in the way the sunlight illuminated the backs of giant green elephant ears in the park today as the day bowed over the Rockies. The way they rustled in the wind like a prayer. And if we're all outer world, then we never ask ourselves why that particular moment in time felt like a prayer instead of a surrender, or applause.

The inner and the outer world intersect. Inform. Infer. Interrogate. Our metaphors can be shared, but they are also particular. Our images, the way we ingest and understand the world through the senses, shape what we remember, how we relate, and what resonates. I've been stuck in my inner world. Noticing and connecting a little, but letting the moments pass me by. And after months of not writing much of it down, I feel like it's passing me by. Write it down, all the teachers say. Don't let the muse go when she arrives. And if she's playing hard to get, seduce her. Bring her to you. Sensuality and seduction have come back into my life, so why not seduce my art?

So. I'm going to begin a daily writing practice (again.) I only have to do five minutes a day. That's it. I have time for five minutes. Always. I can easily spend five minutes less on so many things. But I will allow myself to go on if I want to. My only rule (these are helpful little writing practices I've used on my students that I need to start using on myself) is that I have to describe one thing in the outer world I noticed that day, and let THAT inform anything going on in my inner world. So often I begin by airing out my fears, worries, to-do lists, desires, etc. and become exhausted by the same old shit inside before I even get to anything worth writing about. So I'm flipping the switch.

Start with an exhaustively described moment I noticed in the outer world that day, then let it go from there. And the form? Little prose poem drafts. Raw drafts. Bam. That's it.  I'll do them on my own and share the good ones here every few days. There, I said it. Make me do it, okay? Anyone? 

Here's my first little super-draft from yesterday:

After hours in the sun with Pablo Neruda the dog, on a cool, late-June Colorado afternoon with nothing to do but feel my pen in my hand, the warmth of a lucky Friday night off all over me, we stand up lazy and sun-drunk, strap on our bags and leashes, and begin the walk home to my apartment through the opulent, flower-covered neighborhoods between that kind of life and mine. Across the street, two teenage-girls break away from their group of friends all draped over an empty elementary school playground. I can smell the angst, the joy and pleasure of loud music in public on a summer afternoon. The group of young men and women are all body, all expression. Some lean to one side with confidence, others bounce around telling the rest why this song is lit, a few carry the posture of self-doubt: shoulders curled in like a protection, fingers fidgeting with clothes and how terribly they fit hormonal growing bodies. The two girls though, they leave together with a small speaker blaring music. One's hair is long and blonde and straight, and I remember wanting my frizzy curly brown hair to be exactly like hers at that age. She's on a skateboard and she tosses a rope to her friend, who hops on a bicycle. They pull each other down the street, unashamedly loving their music, this moment, each other. I'm assuming that last thing, but I want to believe it. Women don't actually hate other women until we're told to. The blonde's long hair is a pendulum to the beat. They turn almost simultaneously to wave goodbye to the rest of the draped-ones and keep floating to their next destination. I don't remember ever being able to break away from the group like that, so hungry I was for acceptance and belonging. There is a kind of lightness here. A kind of innocence I want to remember. A kind of youth I didn't really have. A communal quality to life in the city I only dreamed about. And a kind of ease in the body I only watched from afar at that age. Short jean shorts, movement that is fluid and at least faking confidence. I still want to see this from where I stand now. Only today, I feel my body like I wanted it to feel then. Lighter, more able to break away from the group and float down the street with someone I love. More sturdy in the bone structure of what holds this constant desire. Away they go, laughing. For a moment, free. Are we ever more than this? 

 

 

                                               practice. pay attention. quiet the mind. see. 

                                               practice. pay attention. quiet the mind. see.