Updated: Jan 30, 2022
I take a picture of the sky when I have a good idea. This is not a metaphor. It’s a habit.
It started one night when I stumbled into a storyline in the recesses of my mind. I was driving - paying just enough mind to the road, but also tuning in to the picture on my mental screen. In order to commemorate this abstract thing that could not yet be seen outside my conscious - I pulled out my old phone and snapped a shaky picture of the nighttime highway.
This kind of whispered lightning strike from the back of my mind does not happen a lot, but when it does it tends to be when I am moving. Walking, or driving - in pursuit of the next thing. I can sit in front of a screen for ages and grow into a lumpy rock with moss all down my shoulders and feel not one ounce of inspiration and then move away from my keyboard and the words start running.
I am shivering in my big winter coat and typing with swollen red fingers because it is better to be writing while walking into the wind than not writing at all.
I think this sentiment signifies a change in me.
I would not have said that last year.
But a year is just an accumulation of choices.
One chance piled onto the next.
I’m not who I was or where I was and I know this because I can catalogue the passing of several months or turn around and point at the last 20 paces.
I am not who I was.
I am not where I was.
I hope for moments when I am all motion and writing and crazy hair in the wind. Catching words and snagging phrases before they scatter to the stratosphere like a loosed kite. This part is exciting - I'll give you that. But it is not all days.
The depth of rest belongs to the creative cosmos as much as the lightning bolt that tells me to move at all costs. When exhaustion takes over I no longer fight the rest with struggle and eyes that won't open. I just invite it in a give it a warm cup of chamomile. This is all part of the rhythm. We are not always meant to clock in.
So many days are alone and quiet. The sweatpants-caterpillar-under-blankets person must exist like her frenzied-butterfly-artist counterpart. They belong to each other. They exist in equal parts and rely on the balance. They are both good and beautiful and worthy of all the things. This has been learned in this last year of accumulated choices.
So I give grace to the solitary days in the inner sanctum blanket fort of my soul. And then when the light comes on and the muses start calling I give chase to creative chances and take pictures of blurry dusk and night sky and street lights. Stopping at intersections to scribble down fleeting thoughts. Notes squirreled away in digital pockets or recordings in fragments on the go.
This kind of migrating inspiration is inconvenient.
But Love usually comes in fleeting chances.
I am more than ok with this.
I want the muses to know that I am willing to walk with them - and that I am willing to chase if necessary. I want the battlements around my brain to be noted in reverence as I run past them and pick up my stride. I want the things that used to be blockades and fences to become mile markers of the places I have been, but where I did not stay for too long. I want the gate to be left swinging open so fiercely that the next person on the trail knows I left in a hurry.
I left in pursuit.
Of the words that are playfully running - not away - just giving chase.
So I will write in the cold. On the move. With these words. Even if no one reads them. Even if they are offered up to the craft in the name of practice. In an act of good faith. An offering in pursuit. Chasing Down Expression. So when those gods of myth and fiction decide who they will hurl their next miracle at they will think of me and smile. When they sit on their cartoon cloud and choose where to send their next Hercules of an idea to be parented by an unprepared mortal they will think of this particular unprepared mortal. Who is many days a mess, but who is almost always trying.
So I show up for practice.
For when the next lightning bolt gets hurled my direction.
I want to be ready to catch it by the end of its tail.
Perhaps you can walk with me.
I will need a witness.
Until then -
Here are some pictures of the sky