I found these words in an email to an old and dear friend. Her and I have been the best of friends for years and years but often find ourselves living or exploring different parts of the world. We have written thousands, if not millions of words to one another over the years, the countries and the oceans. I came across a few this morning.
The following excerpt is from a summer when I was staying in a house in Portland and she was back in Edmonton. I felt the sentiment still held true for me — time or place hasn't shifted its meaning. I've also left the words as I sent them all those years ago which I can see could be heavily edited but what I am also sharing is the sweetness of the personal letter — the intent is more important than the presentation.
The letters we've shared over the years are so precious to me, which is one of the many reasons I believe in the tradition of the handwritten note and of course, the letter. I acknowledge that email is an easier way and I do often choose it for longer more in depth letter writing but the point is that I am still writing letters — documenting the insignificant and the profound details of my life for an audience of one.
The smell in this house is pungent — it smells of animals and antiquity. There are no plants indoors. As with anything, over time, they simply become another fixture in a home, like the lamp with a crooked shade or the mismatched chairs at the kitchen table. You stop noticing the arousal of your senses at the newness of it all and begin finding small comfort in coming back to the smell after a long day. The myriad of oddities in this place feel like a spring in an old mattress that digs into your ribs just enough to keep you tossing and turning all night but not enough to go sleep on the couch or even, to buy a new mattress. I wonder if it's the stories, the ghosts of all the baubles collecting dust around the house that create scribbles of noise that cannot be heard, only felt. There is an unsettled static in the air that can only be avoided if I keep busy, clicking away at the keyboard, scrawling pen, dragging brush to paper, flipping a page, washing, drying.
True stillness comes from creating.
I am learning this again. Finding that infinite place that only exists in a state of mind, where there is no control over thought or breath — involuntary movement that can only be born of true inspiration. I have felt this most often when dancing, although I am nothing of a true dancer, by trade or vocation, but it has been one of the greatest, richest, wildest, most sensuous experiences I have ever had. My experience of dancing, of diffusing the lines between body and space, has been my own greatest attempt at defining the act of creating. It has given me a sense of elation that is whole, nothing feels unbalanced or lacking. There are moments when I can physically feel the thread of the music weave through my body, moving from the soles of my feet, up through my ankles and shins, wrapping in and out of my knees, guiding them in this direction or that. Up through my thighs, oh my fleshy thighs, tightly coiling up through my orgasm, in and out of my hips as they softly move up and down, forward and back, feeling excited and alive. The music slips up my spine, around my belly, breathing heavily, happily, finding my heart but not before kissing my breasts, the space between them, wet, hot, rising and falling with the beat of the bass, moving with rhythm up to my neck, around to the nape, sending notes of art, creation and love back down my spine, demanding my hips and legs to keep moving. The music finds my lips, tugs at the corners, thrusts them upward, hard, so that my cheeks and eyes have nowhere to go but up. My head feels light, no weight of thought, of depression, of love, of life and everything in between. It is still. My body moves but my mind is still.
And then I remember that I am an artist.
My vocation, then, is simply to create. What more can I ask of myself than to be guided the pull of gravity? To allow myself to be guided by the stillness I find when my body is moving but my mind is quiet. I've found this in drawing, in painting, in sewing, in writing, in dancing, and alas, in yoga. Body moving, mind calm. This is the balance that I seek each day as I struggle through the shadows, the weeds, the overgrowth of deep love and deep hurt, the heightened awareness of experience, the true desire to understand the hearts and minds of the people who make this life worth living, even the ones that just make it interesting. I read once that as artists it is our responsibility to observe — this is our duty. To be observant, to document our observations and to then share it with the world so that, with any hope, there is a chance at deep human connection. "One must believe that private dilemmas are, if deeply examined, universal, and so, if expressed, have a human value beyond the private, and one must also believe in the vehicle for expressing them, in the talent." (May Sarton)
Now that this small explosion has come out in the form of words, I must go find the next fire to ignite.
She is somewhere in India doing her life's work. I am in my studio in Victoria doing my life's work. The letters are fewer and far between these days but we remain connected through our words — a place where we have found deeper friendship, refuge, understanding, inspiration and love.
Thanks for the visit.
Until next time...