I get better, as years go by, at putting my head down and quietly working. I wasn’t always this way. I used to squander my energy on all kinds of useless things, all kinds of tragic relationships, all kinds of confused, ego-driven contrivances that only served to dull my light (and I should clarify when I say ego, I am referring to my own). I’ve changed a lot over the years, I am grateful I have, grateful for growth and earnestly eager for more depth and strength to arrive to my wobbly little frame, as depth and strength will arrive, on the edges of blades and the whims of wind. I recover faster from heartbreak these days. I wouldn’t say my skin has thickened, I don’t want it to. I value my sensitivities. I can tell you that I break just as badly and easily as I ever did. I shatter like a glass window under the stress of a piercing high note when I am in a thorny pair of indelicate hands. And, quite sadly, I have known a lot of thorny, indelicate hands. Haven’t we all? The good news is this: something in me pushes back hard against the violence of life. I heal faster than I ever did before. I don’t have time to wallow in the miry clay. I feel what I must feel, take the blunt, punching force of consequence directly on the chin, as I must, from time to time. When I am angry, I literally run the fire of my rage down to ash and cast it off into the wind before it burns me black from the inside out. I don’t have time for the things I used to make time for. But I digress. In the here and now, while I quietly work, the space falls silent around me, I wear peace like a cloak and I find I have so much appreciation for the grace of my studio and the big windows that look out past the jungle of my yard and into the rolling face of beautiful Idaho.
Today, I am in the studio and Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek” has started to quietly and powerfully trickle out of the speakers below the workbench. I’ve left the lights off, as I do most days, the sky is pouring in the huge window that looks steadily West. The song begins to crescendo. I sing along. Out of the corner of my eye I catch a glimpse of broad, flittering movement from South of the house, a swaying of slight shadow that seems to stem from the very roots of Scout Mountain where it stands gleaming and wide, slapping thin air at 9000ft. I raise my head to look, to see, to understand the thing that has caught my eye; I see a mumuration of starling as it sweeps over the yard and up into the prickly tower of the blue spruce where it hangs in careful shades of teal over my quirky little farmhouse. The tree bends and shifts in the wind, carefully catching birds, one by one bringing each to bough. It is raining. The whole world outside my big window is wet, wind beaten and bleeding blue under a strange spring sky. The spruce is loaded and bursting with birds. A lesser grouping of starling sweeps in, swirls and settles in the catalpa tree. I look up once more from writing this in my sketchbook to see the starling leave as wildly and briskly as they arrived, I hold in my breath as I watch the mass of dark flapping, up they go, across the sagebrush and then gone. Fleeting. Their presence was fleeting. I exhale.
I feel lonely. Those birds owned my heart, if only for a short while.
Sometimes I belong to a beautiful thing for a matter of seconds, mere minutes, short days, tidy weeks, a month or two, a quick splay of a year…no matter the length of time I am bound to it, bound to a beautiful thing, I miss it when it goes.