My day opened at 5 a.m, with little nudges and kisses from Miss Fish (who was thinking about her breakfast) with an email from a cousin in England, asking questions about old family history; she is sorting out what happened when, and reading back through my extraordinary great-grandmother Emma Freeman’s journals. Her first line was something like “I apologize if these questions are painful…”
But I say, ah, I don’t really think that way. Experience, life, love… you have to dive fully in and not be fearful, not be afraid to be alive, to face the truth as best as we can puzzle it out. I answered her fully, telling her what I knew of the sad, strong, stories, of the things that happened before and just after I was born.
Do you know, that when I condensed into these three rooms (which I am loving with every monkish cell in my body) I looked at a lot of professional stuff from the past (magazine articles I had written, awards, mass spec studies, talks I’d given, books I had written, whatever) and I found that I was completely unmoved by them. They were fine, and a lot of it was really good work, but there is a gulf between my presence (as opposed to my present) and my past, and I am not interested in repeatability, which is why I am not in science. I’m an idea generator, not a fucking testing lab.
I floated most (or possibly all) of the certificates, the letters, the articles, and the book drafts into the recycling, and piled up all of the beading and metalsmithing mags for the local shelter’s thrift shop to take away. If anyone happened on them, and thought, “Hey, I’m going to take this up!” and bought the whole stack, they would think that I was omnipresent in every magazine all of the time, because there would be a piece from me in each of them. I find this hilarious, but not particularly relevant.
Photo by Trois8, from their Fukishima series, after Sokolsky in Paris, of course
I realized that by default, I consider everything I did prior to this actual second to simply be preparation, legwork, and study put in for whatever is coming next. And it hardly matters what is next, as long as I feel like a responsible citizen who is trying to be good, and keep my loved ones loved, the house clean, the cats and birds fed, the linens folded properly and the bills paid on time. (As you can see, I also confuse a tidy home with basic goodness, and while they may often be found together, I admit that one is no guarantee of the other.)
Other than all of that, who could care? As long as things are good and the work is chewy I don’t ask any questions. I don’t mind if the work is even exceedingly hard; it never factors in for me as a concern. I might acknowledge it, or plan for it, but I don’t give a flying fuck how difficult anything is. Bring it on. I deeply resonated with something along that line that Dave Stevenson said at the CalTech nerd-in. The conversation was on Venus, and why NASA is doing such a terrible job of going there. Dave said that it was because it was perceived to be too difficult, which was disappointing in terms of what one’s standard of discovery should be. That it was a sign of character weakness to shy away from difficult problems. And my soul cried out with joy.
Hey, look what I found on YouTube. Click it into hi def for maximum delight. And I particularly enjoyed the fact that the exact second that both Ferry and the cameraman took immutable control of the situation was… 1:11.
For your pleasure
In our present state
Part false part true
We present ourselves.
The words we use tumble
All over your shoulder
Gravel hard and loose.
Yesterday afternoon I went to see Larry, already mentally afloat from the engaging trip and the wrapping up of a few things that had been occupying too much of my time, from a hard swim, from a great round at the photo tent. He sang my body electric; I sank deeply into the core of the Earth. This is so different than floating up to be a star, which sometimes also happens. The experiences I have now are even more profound than those I had in the beginning, although now they fit within my skin and don’t always flow out of my through my fingers to be words on a page.
I go to Electric Larryland once a week, and it keeps me braided into a cable of awesome, instead of being a stranded being; I can now master a sufficiency of moments to be predictable in my work, and I seem to be significantly cleverer; this is better than stupider, and I think the improvement is that I now have access to my full experience, instead of whatever the strand I am in can tell me.
What a relief. It’s rendered almost all other strategies obsolete; there is no longer any need, in fact, to strategize, I simply have to stay healthy, and carry on. Again, I say, what a relief. In those three words, a universe, a lifetime of release. My core may still be molten, but it smolders contentedly; it fits in its space and all of it is valued and gridded in.
My only simple hope is that I survive long enough to enjoy this properly, this beautiful sea of experience, of love, and the parliament of extraordinary people that I have carefully, patiently sheepdogged so as not to lose to wolves for the past thirty years of life.
This morning, I woke up and I could see further into the next parts; I saw, and in fact I can still see (and should probably begin sketching before too long) the long series of paintings for the Love Letters book, lined down a hallway I did not recognize, beautifully lit… and I thought, “I had no idea that the three of us were going to paint onto the same canvases!” … and then I thought, oh, maybe Boston. Maybe there is a hallway in Boston.
…and then I knew, in fact I saw, that the interviews began with me, in a way that I had not previously understood, and that I needed to be filming my part, and their part too, and then I understood, and said, “Of course!” and I could see how the Roxy covers that Joyce Rooks and Larry and I were talking about and how Steve’s uncanny resemblance to Leonard Cohen (he can READ some of it for me, poet-style, and no one will be able to look away from him for even a second) and Beck’s sampling of Ferry all wove together in my mind, and in essence, I received my outline, my instructions from MI5, I saw into my own crystal ball, I peeked through the membranes of spacetime to glimpse the skeletal framework of some the possibilities in front of me.
And I wept with gratitude, and got out my sketchbook.
Sky Oculus: George Sherwood, “Wave Cloud”, Boston