Dear Friends and Birth Story Pilgrims and Lovers,
During my seven-month drive-about, I began envisioning living in a community or applying for an artist in residence program. Although these options are not available during the Covid-19 pandemic, I continued to imagine living in a community versus my “hermitage” lifestyle. Then, a month ago, I felt a gentle nudge and decided it was time to settle down in preparation for completing two big projects, so I looked for rentals. I saw a photo of a two-room adobe casita and called the owner and said, “I think I’m supposed to live there.” So, the next day, I went to see the place, it felt right, it is a compound of six neighbors; I signed the rental agreement. I’ve been settling in over the past month. Within walking distance is a little river, lush foliage, the earth and trees smell so good, and birds fill the air with a variety of songs and calls. Every day I pinch myself, is this really happening?
I am dedicating this year, beginning now, to completing two goals that have been on the back burner for a long time. The first is a dream that went dormant for 11 years because of ongoing health issues, but I never forgot about it. During the drive-about, I experienced healing, physical, mental, and spiritual. The meaning of Muse is to remember your unbounded potential. Now the Muse is calling me to finally bring about the long-envisioned art project: Images of Birth in Our Culture. For my birthday, Sky, my eldest son, in support of my dream, gifted me a canvas, 48″ x 60″ to be the show’s centerpiece. I also found an oil painting teacher; he is taking me through “seeing” exercises and showing me how to build a painting in a way I knew was possible but had no idea how to go about it. So, at 67, I am finally learning the subtle art of painting, color theory, seeing with my eyes open. My vision for this art project includes gathering images created by others, too; more on this soon.
The second goal for my “artist in the adobe residency” is to complete the long-envisioned and promised book on The Narrative Archetypes of Storytellers and Stories. I made many notes over the past years; the first step was to sort them into chapters. And now, because the time is right, I am writing with ease and joy every day.
A year ago, my immune system was weak, making way for a severe case of shingles. For nine weeks, I had to take loads of narcotics, could not sleep because of the pain, was isolated because of Covid-19 and trying not to die from it … and in a spiral of anxiety, regrets, and grief; taken to the edge, I lost all hope, I lost my mind. In a way, the suffering was worse than years of acute blood cancer. This is what compelled me to go on drive-about.
During the drive-about, I slowly unwound. It was winter, everything but cemeteries, state parks, and art museums were closed. But being alone in new landscapes was less lonely than being alone in a house. The pain receded. Then ever so gradually, something unexpected happened. I went into increasingly longer states of being emptied. Not feeling empty as in feeling despair, but something else: maybe learning to just be and not driven to do, to accomplish. And then a series of dreams began showing fragments from my life, literally seeing my life passing before me or behind me. Over time I came to think of these dreams as “emptying dreams” for lack of a better term. They showed me glimpses of forgotten moments and people I knew that had drifted away or died, long-conditioned beliefs lived out again and again, and my struggles to transcend them … one-by-one dissolved by dreaming, but I don’t know-how. It feels a little like the Miracle Question; only this emptying followed “Miracle Dreaming.” For months I experienced gentle washes of self-understanding, forgiveness, bittersweet moments to acknowledge how long I believed and acted on old agreements, but gratitude to begin to live new ones now. And then more Emptiness or empty-fullness.
It is my joy to be in community with every one of our birth story pilgrims, listeners, and mentors. We are artists of the spirit, envisioning and bring to life what is possible. Thank you for all your birthday wishes!