27 February 2011

Michelangelo, Mother Teresa and Me

I started this blog one year ago. It was a pretty scary proposition, initially, to share my writing. Those first few weeks, especially, questions swirled in my mind: What if you didn’t like what I wrote? What if I ran out of things to write about? What if none of you cared enough to read my posts? And, most of all, what if I am a horrible writer?

What if what if whatif whatifwhatif?

Writing is intensely personal, like any creative art – it is part of me out there on the proverbial page. But let’s put all those clich├ęd metaphors about how difficult it is to reveal one’s flabby, cellulite-ridden self aside, because I’ve learned that I am a writer. It’s part of who I am and what I do. A year ago, I couldn’t say that. But to make a connection with a reader – to say something that resonates, that touches, that gives voice to what we feel, fear, or find meaningful – brings me great personal joy. It’s as gratifying to me as hearing an audience burst into applause is for an actor or musician. It’s a quiet joy, though, most of the time.

But that’s not why I write. I think I must write. I can’t not write. And while sometimes writing looms above me like a chore, it’s not. I’ve come to think of it more as an obligation – to myself. There were times during this year when I wanted to stop. But then one of you would comment or share your thoughts, or agree, – or even better – disagree, and I would find the energy and inspiration to keep my eyes open and really, really see a poem, a story, an idea, emerging, unfold its almost indiscernible wings and take flight. And I’d have to follow where it led, sometimes shocked, and nearly always surprised, at where it would take me. Which actually makes it sound too easy. It is difficult, time-consuming work to write. There are switches that must be flipped on, and others that must be turned off. A segment of time must be carved out of my already-too-busy schedule, and to do that, I must remind myself of one of my all-time favorite quotes:

Don't say you don't have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein. – H. Jackson Brown
I can hardly put myself into the same category as those brilliant human beings without laughing hysterically (in fact, I’m sure you sniggered at the pretentious title of this blog), but that quote always reminds me of the potential of one. One person. One goal. One minute. One word. If I can focus on that, and just begin, and write just one sentence, then I can usually create enough momentum to propel myself a bit further down the blank page. Michelangelo & Co. didn’t have anything that any of the rest of us can’t gain by focus, desire, and determination. Or, at least, that’s what I learned from David Shenk.

I’ve started on a novel, inspired by the huge compliment one of you gave me this fall. And while its ideas and storylines are still too green and malleable to share, it’s coming along. If I hadn’t found the courage to share what I’m writing, I wouldn’t have been the recipient of the encouraging words that have permitted me to breathe life into some interesting characters that I hope will connect with you sometime in the future.

So, thank you, thank you for reading. I hope that you have gained something from being a reader. You have given me far more quiet joy than I will ever be able to repay. And, in case you’re wondering, the question that pops up most often in my mind these days is this: What if I did tell my stories?

20 February 2011

The Snow Moon

The snow moon rises east
of the Cerbat Mountains,
the bright yellow disk
luminous in
the mellowing-golden-pink-tinged blue

From the west, fingers of graying cirrus
reach above and eastward,
portents of a winter storm

Fringed with
dark peaks and punctuated with
yucca, cholla, and power-
pole silhouettes of pure black against
the fading light,
the Mojave is far more
beautiful at evening without
the harsh glare of the sun

The snow moon diminishes as she
rises, bleaching herself white,
accompanied by
noisy stars twinkling in
conversations beyond
the scope of human ears, until
finally she completes her silent ascent
in the blackness overhead

06 February 2011

Fingernail Moon

You saw me huddled
with the Others around the
fire pit in
the darkness on the edge
of the winter desert
on the edge of the bright city
just within a sphere of light
and heat.
The Others, laughing drinking
talking daring calling
within the glow and warmth
sharing that
camaraderie that emerges
easily after a few.
In the black blackness
of the starless sky,
I caught a glimpse
of you smiling,
a darkened sphere
with just
a sliver of silver
light without heat
like a shiny spoon,
and I wanted to call
to the Others,
Look! The moon!
but I sensed the Others
not like me
and so I did not,
did not share.
The Others
laughing drinking
did not,
did not notice
our secret:
you smiling at me from
far across the sky.