On my birthday back in December I received a bouquet of sunflowers from my sweetie and drawing of sunflowers and special sunflower seeds from a dear friend. The synchronicity struck me. Now Spring is here and daffodils and soon I’ll plant those seeds. They’ll bloom sometime this summer. Sure to be something special.
Piles and piles and piles of paper
Documents of distant days
Days gone like the summer
Days lost to the haze
Logistics of life.
Notes no longer needed…
We burned them in the night.
Setting years of old files on fire was extremely cathartic. A campsite at the beach was the perfect setting for this ritual of sorts. It took three nights to get through it all: tax returns dating back to 1995, 16 years of pay stubs, detailed calendars from our days as a touring band, etc, etc, etc. It was a liberating (and smoky) process.
I’m curious what this release will open me up to now.
Memories. Memories. Memories. In the pinball game of the brain some memories stick around, others disappear down dark holes. Lights flash and time filters certain details out, alters others. This week I’ve wrestled with memories. And they wrestled back.
It started innocently enough – with the idea that it was time to clean some things out of my file cabinet. It ended with me in tears, sitting on the floor with piles of papers – bones of my past – scattered around me.
Somehow, with my current digitally-based documentation systems, I’d misplaced my memories of 20+ years of meticulous filing. I’d forgotten the clearly labeled, alphabetized scraps of my life sitting in my file cabinet. A time capsule of successes and regrets.
So when I opened those drawers, the depth and breadth of what I discovered within was overwhelming. High school grades. College accolades. Emotional handwritten letters. Way too many years of tax returns. Poetry. Floppy discs. Newspaper articles. Negatives. Resumes. Flyers from shows. Paperwork from jobs. More flyers from shows. Guatemalan cash. Press kits. Drawings. Lists. Young hope. Buried heartaches. Lost dreams.
There was something unnerving about the intensity and earnestness of my detailed organization of these papers. Who was this compulsive young woman? I felt a sad tenderness for her. She tried so hard.
Overall, looking through remnants of decades of my life in just a few days has made me feel frighteningly mortal. I’ve lived so long already. What have I done with my time? The memories I unearthed were too much and not enough. What do I have left to do? I don’t know. But whatever it is, I don’t want it filed away.
photo of me of a bygone our fest by phil cheney
playing their last tunes
before the chill of autumn
sends them to their doom
the goat’s name was bucket
on a barrel he did stand
he seemed awful friendly
until he bit your hand
what is the point
of a a swirl in the sky?
the effort to hang it
to catch someone’s eye?
what is the point
of songs gone unheard?
of plaintive lyrics
sung only to birds?
what is the point
of a simple verse?
of rhythm and rhyme,
moroseness and mirth?
what is the point
of throwing time
at questions that simply
aren’t yours or mine?
Sometimes you hear a voice through
the door calling you, as fish out of
water hear the waves, or a hunting
falcon hears the drum’s come back.
This turning toward what you deeply
love saves you. Children fill their
shirts with rocks and carry them
around. We’re not children anymore.
Read the book of your life which has
been given to you. A voice comes to
your soul saying, Lift your foot;
cross over; move into the emptiness
of question and answer and question.
Poem by Rumi
Translated by Coleman Barks
Photos by Me
My friend Lora recently shared a link to Fabulous Fashionistas, a film about six inspiring women with an average age of 80. I watched it last weekend, and was very moved. The women in the film are creating new, positive paradigms about aging. Their style and sass and optimism are infectious. From the interviews, it seems that an enthusiastic attitude and exercise are two of the key components to a vibrant life after 70. These women also all have creative outlets, including expressing themselves with fashion. I suspect I’ll watch this film again as I get older, to remind myself what’s possible.
“Over decades, she had reclaimed what she had forfeited of her own mind, if any. She took pains to keep outside of the world’s acceleration. An Athens marketplace amazed Diogene with “How many things there are in the world of which Diogenes hath no need!” Lou had long since cut out fashion and all radio but the Red Sox. In the past few years she had let go her ties to people she did not like, to ironing, to dining out in town, and to buying things not necessary and that themselves needed care. She ignored whatever did not interest her. With those blows she opened her days like a piñata. A hundred freedoms fell on her. She hitched free years to her lifespan like a kite tail. Everyone envied her the time she had, not noticing that they had equal time. ” – Annie Dillard, from The Maytrees
I recently finished The Maytrees, which is exquisitely written.
This passage above really struck me as it paints a picture of a way to be in the world that I admire. Lou’s approach to life seems so liberating. I am in a phase where I am craving more simplicity. Of course, I can’t imagine totally giving up dining out, but there are many things I can give up, and will. In doing so, I hope to make room for more nature and art and music and wonder.