If you create anything, create hope.
If you create anything, create in light.
If you create anything, create with love.
For The Daily Post
For The Daily Post
“This is a big big big mountain and it have a train and it go ‘choo-CHOOOO!’ round and round and also flowers but you see them fast because it a train and rainbow and my name.” (J.N, age 3:4)
For The Daily Post
“I didn’t think it was possible,” she said. Her hand hovered close over her heart, a tremor perhaps mirroring the flutter inside. “I never dared to even hope.”
A budding of something long buried illuminated her face, softened the crows’ feet around her eyes, smoothed a line of worry that had etched itself, preemptive and ever-wary, onto her forehead.
It’s been such a very long road.
“Can you believe it? At my age?” She shook her head, amazed.
She lowered herself to the couch and patted her own knee in self-comfort or maybe to convince herself that she was real and wasn’t dreaming.
Her voice whispered wonder. “He loved it. Bought it on the spot. My baby. My first sculpture, sold.”
“I don’t like cleaning up,” she complained. The floor was strewn with blocks, mini-figurines, doll’s clothing, crayons, plastic tea-set, make up kits, paper bits, and other detritus of a long afternoon.
Her brother frowned. He’s been occupied with his tablet instead of playing with her and while it was nice to have the chatterbox quiet for a change, he did not relish the prospect of doing the work or facing the dressing down he’d get if his parents returned to see the living room drowned under mountains of little-girl paraphernalia.
She glowered back, lower lip already quivering in preparation for what he knew all too well will be a battle he would lose.
“It’s not cleaning up,” he started.
“What?” she squinted, suspicious.
“You see,” he enticed, “it’s like magic …”
“Magic …? ” She still wasn’t buying it.
“Yes, magic! You’ll be making a mess in reverse!”
For The Daily Post
Find time for drawing
On the pavement of your mind.
The dry feel of chalk on fingers
The odd satisfaction in
Merging in the rain.
Put aside the rush of feet
The soles of to-do lists
The pressures of perfection.
Pavement pictures do not require
Other than imagination and
A bit of emptiness,
A soft rock,
Make room for pavement pictures
On the pace-space
Of your mind.
Let the squiggles free
So the sketch
You never knew was there
To the sun.
As summer solstice arrives, I find myself wondering about the metaphoric increase of light and the ongoing balance of light and dark, the constant shifting from more of one to more of the other and the very brief points of apex on either. We are not meant to be static. Not the planet, not even within the same season–there is constant change. Even as summer formally begins, it begins the long path to the opposite.
Dark to me does not necessarily have the connotation of evil–though it can indeed also mean the absence of light on heart and soul levels–rather it often represents for me all that is hibernating, what is nascent and unborn, the things that await clarifying, the times of preparation, incubation, anticipation, hibernation, rest …
Dark carries in it the potential of enlightenment, the tender differentiation of color in pre-dawn, the realization of upcoming sunshine and the end of opaque unknown.
In the summer solstice, dark is at its shortest, but it is not eliminated, nor should it be. Without dark, there is no contrast. Without dark, it is difficult to find rest or space for incubating thought and creativity, for wonder and imagination, for small things needing sheltering still until they grow enough to face the light.
I am reminded of this as even in the longest day arrives, the path to increasing dark is already beginning–slow and steady from now to the winter solstice, a drop-by-drop addition to the night and its many potentials.
Don’t get me wrong, for all the sheltering potential of sapphire skies and starlit hours, I love long days. I adore the long twilight of summer evenings, the seemingly endless time to be outside in the sun. So much so that I remember wondering–as a child reading about another child’s life in Lapland–what it had to be like to live above the Arctic Circle in a summer of continuous light (only in the summer, please … the freezing cold is not something I am enamored with even considering …).
Someone I know swears by the healing properties of experiencing these dark-less days. She finds that it calibrates her body’s internal needs: she eats when hungry, sleeps when tired, works until the work is done. To her, a fortnight in the Arctic summer is a remedy for most that ails her.
Another friend who spent some of her childhood in Sweden told me that she loved it for the first two days then found it suffocating. “I’d hide under the bed and drape a blanket over the sides to get a place of darkness. I needed time to breathe some night. My brain wanted to rest.”
I can understand both the freedom that a time of continuous light allows, and the need for respite from it. For all the adoration of light–and I indeed adore it–there is the inherent balance of all things. Even my friend who prescribes Arctic summers makes time for breaks from productivity.
A sage woman once told me: “We all seek the light at the end of the tunnel, but the tunnel itself has value in leading you to it.”
May this Summer Solstice become a day of balance for you. May it support your outward creativity and your inward incubation of new being and new doing. May it hold the hint of winter in the making–the cooling and the slower pace already forming.
Happy Summer Solstice to you.
And for all who celebrate it–also a Happy Father’s Day!
She came up the stairs dragging a very sorry looking mop.
To my raised eyebrow, she smiled, “it’s a secret,” and said no more. She placed the mop in a corner (head double tied in a plastic bag per my insistence), and sat down to work. Once in a while she lifted her face to look at the mop’s handle with a little “I know something that you don’t but this is working really well so far” grin.
I was of course dying of curiosity but had to admire her resoluteness to not spill the beans. This was no easy feat for a girl who would usually share just about any tiny detail she could think of.
Not this time.
This cat, I could see, was not being let out of the bag. How apt, when we have been working on symbolic language, and how she adored the image of that specific idiom. Thought it was the funniest thing after being “all ears.”
When the mother came to pick her up at end of session, a storm paced near.
“What’s this?” The parent curled a lip.
“From outside,” the child replied regally and more than a little challenging.
The mother shook her head at the mop. (My thoughts exactly … from OUTSIDE? Who knew what peed on this, or worse, and why someone decided to toss out the scraggly mess! She brought this in here from OUTSIDE?!)
The child remain stoic. “I told you I’d figure it out,” she said cryptically.
“And you said that if I found a way then I could AND that this can be a secret until Halloween! So you can’t say anything or you’ll tell!” the girl jumped in rapidly before the mother said something that would reveal what was to be kept hidden (and … I think, to prevent any conversation from putting her at a disadvantage …).
The mother looked at me helplessly but all that I could do was shrug slightly and observe. This was better than TV, definitely. I did not have a clue what was going on, but the child’s delight was fun to see. I did have to hand it to the gal: she clearly made a point and seemed to be driving it home (hopefully not literally … I could not see any cab driver happy to see this in the taxi … and was already thinking how there’d be some disinfecting on my end once this thing left my floor, plastic bag or not …).
A long moment ticked. Another.
“Okay!” the mother sighed. The girl’s grin was humongous.
“Okay?!” I could not help it. The girl picked this up from the garbage and it was okay?? This was not a woman who collected toss-out stuff from pavements, and I could not see her letting this into her house. I could barely believe I let it into mine …
“Oh, she means she’ll get me one!” the girl explained. Victorious. “She didn’t want to but I told her that I will find one myself … though,” she turned to her mother, all nectar and loving sweetness, “it WILL be so much nicer to have a new clean one to use …”
The girl grinned at my bewilderment and left hopping down the stairs. Her mother–I am not sure quite as relieved–carried the offensive mop between two careful fingers (“So it does not smear who knows on each of your steps,” the parent shuddered, keeping the bagged mop head well above the ground.)
Neither mother nor child offered explanation for the girl’s newly found interest in housekeeping. It remained a mystery to me.
(Picture of an unrelated child in a similar costume …)
“Let change paint life anew
And add more colors to your hue, your you.”
People ask me, “Why do you write?” and my inner retort often feels like: “Why do you not?”
I don’t usually reply this aloud, however. I realize that such deflection is far from giving an answer, and that there are probably as many reasons to write as there are not to. Belonging to the former group, I cannot imagine life without words put down on paper and/or screen, even if I know it is not the only way to live. So it stands to reason that there would be those from the latter group who find in quite confounding to imagine why one would want to type letters onto screens for recreation.
Why then, do I write?
Beyond the obvious to me “because I do …”, my answer varies, but it often returns to “because it feels as natural as breathing and just as necessary.” Writing is essential to me. It feels like home. It is the place of flow, even if not always of comfort. Writing takes me places that I never knew I would be visiting, into mind-nooks and crannies I’ve forgotten I had known and some that I never owned and yet somehow remember. Writing deepens how I think, what I comprehend, how I understand it. It plumbs my heart for meaning and compassion, it weaves my thoughts so that they make a tapestry from smallish bits of living. Words offer vistas that lie hidden under the everyday, patiently (and not so patiently) waiting to be breathed onto page and screen.
To me writing is often fun. The best kind of delight, when I am immersed and floating down creative currents. Though some parts of writing can be tedious, they are to me never boring. Words paint pictures within me. They have me revisit. They bring alive people and places. They animate thoughts, realities, events, suspense and resolution. More than anything, writing surprises me. It is as if stories unfold and I am naught but the typist of their unveiling, a tool for their formation.
I write because I can, and because it seems impossible not to.
As Miller said, “writing is, like life, a voyage of discovery” and it is one to which I do not want to say good-bye.
If you, reading this, write: would you share why?
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Steve's body of work spans conflicts, vanishing cultures, ancient traditions and contemporary culture alike - yet always retains the human element. www.stevemccurry.com
Speech Language Pathologist for Adults and Children, Manhattan, New York
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