September 28th, 2005
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dreaming in Joshua tree


It is time for me to sit down and write when I feel overwhelmed with things. Returned home last night and have barely had a minute to breathe and sink back into my skin. After a week of chaos and excitement I find myself craving time alone, I need to be able to let ideas come in again, go back to my own “work”. I am not the girl who likes to go to parties and make connections.
Our last night was spent in Joshua Tree, the perfect quiet and surreal ending to an otherwise magical week. On first glance a common reaction to this place might be, “this is different”. Huge rock formations that look like something out of the Flinstones lay scattered in massive piles all throughout. To be immersed in a desert landscape full of wildlife and foliage so foreign to me, it was not unlike being thrown into a Doctor Seuss book. Strangely bent trees with ‘pom poms’ on the tops, a bush we dubbed ‘the fall apart bush’, (when you picked it, it would disintegrate in your hands), tiny lizards scurried beneath our feet, large eared bunnies munching on leaves by the dozens, a black furry tarantula walking casually five feet in front of us while we ate (me yelling “oh my god!”), a lone coyote slithers by us in the darkness. It all felt like a dream, yet none of it scary, quite peaceful in fact. When I got up to pee in the night I gasped out loud at the view, millions of stars with the Joshua Trees silouetted against the bright sky. I wanted to stay up all night, to take it all in. That feeling of not wanting to close your eyes for fear that you will miss something beautiful. Words do not do it justice, trust me when I say it is spectacular.
The places we visit change us forever. Joshua Tree is a part of me now.
I come home to a comfy bed and a shower, to my desk, to a kitchen that likes to be used, the things that bring me back to myself. I come home also to overwhelming things, the financial struggles (bills), rejection letters, pressures & obligations, the things that shake our confidence. And somewhere in between I must find a balance. It amazes me that after many years of being an artist there is still the wild swinging of confidence, one week you are powerful and charged, on top of the world and your craft, the next you feel plagued with feelings of hopelessness and despair, is my work of value? will anyone recognize my talents? Not surprisingly these latter feelings usually follow some kind of rejection, I start to worry that I may not survive, wonder how is it that other artists seem to do it so effortlessly, (which is actually funny since I seem to others to be one of those artists who appears to be doing this much of the time). Ebb and flow m’dears. That fly on the wall will tell you the truth.
The creative life is one of great contrast.
It requires great stillness and listening. When i become overwhelmed i am too impatient to sit and listen, or i don’t wish to hear what is being said. Instead I cling to the thing that I want so badly, not open to the alternate path that the universe is trying to show me. Sometimes our ego impedes our forward movement. A fact that I don’t like to admit. I am afraid of not being able to survive if I don’t sell my stuff, of falling into financial ruin, of becoming homeless, of not being a sucessful artist. This does not make for good work, or honest work.
Give me my paint box and journal, that is where the REAL work begins. The stuff that no one sees.
The Real Work
It may be that when we no longer know what to do we have come to our real work.
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.
-Wendel Berry (collected poems)

 
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