The Muse and the Moment

I remember reading an interview by Mary Oliver who was talking about her writing Muse. She would be out walking in the woods and the Muse would suddenly strike; the words were floating in her head so quickly that she would have to run back as fast as she could and put them to paper before they flew out into the ethers and be lost forever. The story struck me when I read it because I had experienced the same thing from time to time. I would wonder, having missed chances to pay physical witness to the thoughts escaping my stream of consciousness that those precious baubles were lost forever. And, sometimes, they were. And sometimes, they would come back around because I was the one chosen to deliver that particular message, on that particular speck of time dust in this ever turning world we call our own. It is in the spirit of returning that I offer this.

If breaths make up moments and days make up weeks which eventually are all packaged up into a life, what gift have we made? What gift for ourselves, for our humanity, for our people? Have we left them with a gift of untold care and blessings? Or, have we played the game of “living” so well that people look upon us and mention the phrases, “Bless her heart”, “that’s so sad” or “she could have been something”?

As I sit here at 5:45 am on a chilly late May morning, woken by my Muse who I haven’t recognized in nearly a month, I am struck by this moment, among other seemingly mundane moments. A moment of the mountainscape revealing herself once again; of the seemingly endless bird sounds creating the soundtrack of their morning rapture and of my mind, words and heart coming together in a brief moment of recognition of the present moment. The “now” and the “before” and of futures not needing attention or worry. Just the breath and sounds and state of my heart. Just the warm mug of coffee and the cold glass table top beckoning my senses to step into another day filled with all things just as mundane, and yet, just as temporary, undulating and precious as a rain drop on parched earth.

If you are in a place of pain, I encourage you to turn and stare at it down “between” the eyes. Taking your “unseeing” physical eye and see it for what it is. Temporary. If you are confusion, take a deep cleansing breath and feel the movement produced by a sure, unconscious pattern that your body makes when it inhales and then lets it all go. If you are in a place of love and reverence, BE with it. Roll in it. Get dirty, muddy and blissful with it, allowing every ounce of it to make its mark on your skin.

Sitting with pain can be the easy part. It can be as natural and normal as first light. But, my friends, it is in the luscious, abundant good times that we can question our worthiness to the moment. Stop it. Don’t do it. Let it wash over you like a lover’s touch that has long been absent. Like the soft, caressed breeze of a new morning sky. Like the last gasp of your heart yearning for safety. For if we don’t acknowledge and wrap our arms around the beauty that Life HAS offered, why would it have any interest in returning to us once again?

If we are unwilling to acknowledge and bow to the unbidden gifts from our lives, we will be unable to encourage more of them. We will be numb to lightness and always look for the dark to return. Honestly, almost willing it to so that we can sit in our self righteous stupor and ask for more of the same.

Feel the enraptured spirit of Joy unbound, if only for the briefest of time. Now, after you have, think about this. What if we could transfer that moment into a day? What if we could recognize the light just a touch more than the dark? What if we finally decided to receive the gifts that we have longed for as long as we have been alive? Imagine what that would bring to the door. Recognition, acknowledgement, reverence, love and limitless light. And though we know it’s temporary, I can assure you it will return.

The Space Between

Breathing the Sky; Lucy Clark

What will you do when the world goes to seed?
When all of your hopes and dreams have been nudged into reality; when all of your fears are finally laid to rest.

Will you dwell within the confines of this world or will you be elevated to the space between?
The space between your breath and your heart;
To the moment inserted where the before and after dance;
To the place where the pause is more urgent than the forging.

I can look back on my life and know that I have not honored this most sacred of places. I have allowed the “what’s next” drug of choice to encapsulate my well traveled bones and push me swiftly to run past my accomplishments and head long toward another goal, another challenge, another learning curve.

As a creator, I soulfully know that “a creator must create.” But what if, as a collective, we shifted our perspective on what that actually means. What if creating space meant that we saw it as our angelic obligation to allow ourselves to breathe between the finish line of one race and the start of another. What if we imagined a flow of still points that encompassed our lives as much as our ladders of success. What if, my lovely ones, we took it within ourselves as a form of our highest good to believe that everyone is doing the very best they can and that the “very best” shifts moment to moment and from inhale to exhale.

With suspicion running rampant like a tornado across Kansas, there needs to be a time where all goes quiet. A place where a breath can simply be a breath; a step forward is a loving act of kindness and judgment is left behind in the trash barrel of things no longer required.

I simply must believe that this world exists. For without it, we are doomed to frolic in our co-misery of this life and relegate light, breath and space to the confines of illusion.

Be kind. Think the best of those around you and when you look in the mirror and see the person shining back at you, tell them once and then again toward eternity……

I see you, I believe in you and I fucking adore you ❤️

When the Raven Calls

When the Raven Calls; Lucy Clark

This vintage, yet timeless song by Buffalo Springfield keeps playing in my head…… “Something strange is happening here; what it is ain’t exactly clear; there’s a man with a gun over there; telling me I got to beware…….”

With the electric ride that we called 2020, most of us breathed a deep, purifying sense of relief when it came to a close. With eyes bleary, weary and wild, we were able to crawl through the tattered passage way of that shared experience into a new year with the hope of a 5 year old on Christmas morning that the package we were about to unwrap was destined to fulfill all of our wishes and dreams.

But, Life doesn’t have a way of working out like our fantasies and, taken with an occasional glass of Prosecco, that’s ok. There will always be events outside of our control, that being the one truth that we can always hang our hat on. We are temporary beings of stardust and water; attached indelibly to the deep sky, the ocean and the earth.

But, what about those things that we can control? With a year stock full of electric slides, roller coasters, dark tunnels and disease, our reactive “buttons” are on ALL of the time. Collectively and individually we are dancing around the next drama, the next disappointment, the next wildfire. And so it seems many of us have taken this blistering and turned it outward. From holding tight through a pandemic we have gotten used to the drama. Waiting for the next stupid quote to flame about, the next riot for justice or another cause that needs “causing”, we have collectively gotten “juiced” by it all. And, my friends, we are close to being broken.

Our hearts, minds, bodies and spirits look like a prize fighter after the 15th round of shared brutality.

And what are we doing with all of this pain? Some of us are lashing out within our sphere of family and friends; making others wrong to deflect the intense pain, loneliness and dysfunction they feel within. Others are inflicting the pain inward, always wondering what they could have done better to be better. And some of the magical folk are simply holding the Light, quietly and sometimes secretly, breathing through the impulse to react and instead giving space and time between so as to respond with kindness and compassion.

I am not here to tell you what to do, all I am here to say is this; Kindness is a religion I can support. If we are truly, as a community, to get through to the light we need to occasionally drop the butter knife we hold to each others heart and just be kind. For a breath, for a moment, for an hour or a day. Each step along the way will help with the transition away from our new shared habit of sparks and flares of fire toward a resting state of love, thoughtfulness and caring for each other.

Just for a moment……….❤️

A Story Worth Remembering

On a Cold Winter’s Day; Lucy Clark 2020

I was young and at the beginning of what was to be a nearly 30 year career as a Massage Therapist. I had been seeing a lovely German woman for quite sometime when, during one session she told me of an experience that she had while living and working as a bank teller in Germany during the height of World War II.

At the time of her story she was young as well. Perhaps in her mid 20’s and feeling the freedom that came along with being out on her own for the first time. She was unmarried, employed and feeling like her life was just beginning.

When she spoke about that time it was with a mix of joy and anxiety. She lived about two miles from one of the largest concentration camps and the talk was uneasy around town about what the German army was doing out there. She told me that everyone in town received a pamphlet. It explained to the fine, hardworking German people exactly what they needed to know. The concentration camps were for anyone who committed a crime. Anyone, including the native population could be sent there. She went on to say that if, upon being found guilty, you would be taken to the camp for a period of time to “concentrate” on your transgressions and then be released back into civilized society once you made reparations for those crimes.

Nothing was said about the thickened, sooty sky; the trains with disused, dirty humans packed in like over proved bread. It was all very simply put to them and they chose to believe it. They actually wanted to believe it. Each needing desperately to hold onto some semblance of normalcy in a increasingly dangerous and debris filled world.

She spoke to me of this while she was in her late 70’s and pondering what she, one small, simple, unadorned German civilian could have done about this. It wasn’t until the camps were liberated that the truth of what was happening came rushing forth like a flash flood in a hot, dry canyon bed. By that time, she had left the country and found safety in this beautiful country of ours. She lived a long, healthy life and while I lost touch with her years ago, I continue to honor her memory and her story as one of the most profound things anyone has ever shared with me.

On this day, and the last few that have passed, I am reminded once again how the public, even our fine Republic of the Free, can find it’s way to overlooking horror for safety; turning our heads from violence for the sake of certainty and letting children run amok in war paint and horns and all the while saying everything is fine.

We are all waging this war in different ways, most of them at odds with one another. My plea for kindness will be unwavering and my determination to stay present with gratitude in my heart for everyday will never be finished.

I just thought this was a story worth remembering.

More……and Less

If you have read any of my posts since I have been staying at Ghost Ranch these past two and a half weeks, you will quickly realize that my trip was not just about studying a new way to create within my medium of clay.  I had many things back logged in the “I’ll think about that later” file.  

The act of daily living can take up a lot of time.  Moments of slowing down, breathing and introspection can easily be cast aside when there is internal resistance. I am a self admitted “Do-aholic”.  Having a big giant to do list is a perfect excuse to avoid the big questions. However, while being away from my routine, I have been made more vulnerable to my need for clarity.  

Today, I realized that I have been giving myself away to other peoples problems, causes and emotions. My intention has always been to be of service to others.  Believe me, I find great joy in this; however, in doing too much of this, I have sacrificed my creative abilities and have struggled with my own evolution as a person and as an artist.  This act of self disregard is not a good move if you want your Muse to stick around.

It is my sole responsibility how much of me I give away – no one else has to carry the burden of this little nugget.  Now – here’s the other, more wonderful part…….I get to choose who, what, when, how much and for how long.  You see, we are all in the drivers seat when it comes to our gifts.  It’s ok to keep some for ourselves – it truly is.  When we keep a little of our own goodness, just for us, it actually creates more goodness to go around!  

I also realized that in working through my grief of yesterdays pieces lost to the fire, I failed to honor and give love to those that did.  Below is a photo of one of my favorites.  The mica, the heat and the smoke made her shine like the night sky 🙂

“Now” would be a good time…….

Drama made an appearance at Ghost Ranch this morning!  The majority of the January Term students and faculty were primed and ready to load into large passenger vans and head to Santa Fe.  You could feel the excitement running through the college kids.  They had enough of being on the ranch and wanted some free time to roam the city streets and maybe drink a little beer.  My friend Lori and I were ready to lay down a few dollars to help out the local economy because we are generous like that 🙂 However, Mother Nature had other plans. A storm was rolling in and the program director had to make the unpopular decision to scratch the trip for very sound reasons.  The weather could turn on a dime and though we may have been able to get to Santa Fe, getting back would be a completely different story.

Well……..the younger crowd was pretty upset.  My first thought?  Let’s spend the day in the studio!!  We had loaded the kiln last night and it was cooling down and calling our name.  Our instructor Clarence, Lori and I made a bee line and started working on pieces – sanding, slipping and polishing was occurring at a fast pace.  Although we were slightly disappointed, we all knew that this was a new “now” that was happening and we were happy to be there doing what we love to do.

Past, present and future all deserve our attention at certain times in our lives.  In this instance, we all had a choice how we could respond to the present.  Some decided to be immature and indignant; others moped about without purpose and still others took the opportunity to dive into something we found enjoyable.

To have an entire “free day” to focus on pottery was absolutely priceless.  It lifted me up, twirled me around and set my heart to dancing.  I spent this day with people that I enjoy, ate chocolate, laughed at silly jokes and quickly forgot all about the drama of the morning.  I gave myself the gift to Be.Here.Now.  We all can allow grace to happen and flow – we just need to be present enough to recognize the opportunity.