Showing up — that’s been on my mind as I work this week.
I’m struggling to show up every day. I’m tired, when the alarm sounds at 5:20. On Wednesday I slept instead, and the muses sat waiting for me, tapping their little feet expectantly and looking at their watches.
But on the mornings when I do show up, even when my body, and my mind, would really rather not, there’s the possibility that unexpected, exciting, and intriguing accidents will happen.
A bunch of little painting accidents arrived at my doorstep one day, for example. I was at home, and I heard them knock, so I opened the door and invited them in. I don’t know where they’re going, or how they fit in with this show, but I’m so curious . . .
Sometimes, like on Wednesday, I don’t want to go to my studio. I dawdle, I ignore my four alarms, I ‘exercise’ or find some other self-improving thing to do. I am avoiding the blankness, the gulf in front of me. What if I don’t know what to do? What if there’s nothing there and I sit staring for an hour?
In recent years especially I go on in anyway, and light my incense, and say my prayer to invoke my committee of allies and angels — the muses — and ask them to please take note of my effort. I tell The Voice to leave, please, and go pick on someone her own size. And then I look around. And usually, almost always, something catches my interest and I ride that wave for the next hour or so.
These little pieces are like that. I didn’t know What To Do one day, so I cut up swatches of leftover paint. And I got curious, and I started to ask What If. When I visited the ocean while on my retreat they resonated. They echo that place, a little bit.
I love not knowing how they happened, or why.
On Tuesday night, as I lay ruminating about a conversation I’d had that day, I rolled over and caught sight of a poem by e. e. cummings I’d pinned to the wall some time ago and nearly forgotten. It starts:
may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know . . . .
Goal for the coming fortnight: show up each day. Today, for example, the Frenchman took le petit garçon out to give me time to work; the house is quiet. Two hours, maybe three, all to myself! I’m tempted to stare out at the rain, to find out what other people are doing, to eat popcorn, to vacuum. Sure signs that resistance is lurking nearby. But the muses are waiting, and I know they're starting to look at their watches. I’ve learned this lesson before: there may be a surprise waiting. I gotta go.