Tag Archives: paper mache animals

Trading Doom For Joy

I’m making spaghetti for dinner and humming a tune. I never hum a tune. 19,227 days… 52 years, 7 months and about three weeks in this world without a single hum, until now.

There’s nothing to hum about, really. The presidential campaign was as draining for us common folks as it was for the candidates, if not more, and the media focus on doom, doom, doom. It’s everywhere. And that’s just it. 19,227 days of being me and I finally stopped panicking. In fact, I am very clear about one thing: I will not let this take my joy away. I’ve worked too hard for that joy.

Trying to imagine what might happen next is exhausting. Focusing on a leader’s possible shortcomings is exhausting. More than this (and I’m speaking for myself here), I think that indulging in this sort of thinking isolates me and makes me even more fearful. I believe that everyone means well, or at the very least that they can surprise me. And I have to believe that all the good and progress in the world endures both because of us and in spite of us. Otherwise I might as well have full-blown paranoia.

Analysts and journalists and all manners of researchers dance on one foot and the other trying to zero in on the exact scenario we might expect. It’s fascinating and important to explore human nature, culture and society, but the answers are never set in stone and certainty never at hand. There are too many factors, too many players, too many variants, too many unseen side roads and scenarios. Why choose fear when the path is so blurry? Fear is useful in the presence of immediate danger; it is harmful in the presence of imagined danger. And there is a difference between fear and caution.

No. I am not wearing pink glasses. That’s just it. I do not believe all is well with this world, but I am beginning to let go of my usual filters. They drain me. Now that’s reason enough to start humming!

When I worry or take part in the fear conversation, I fall off track. When I fall off track I do not get my work done. When I do not get my work done I give in to self-reproach, impatience and general imbalance. When I feel so askew I start believing there is not enough time, not enough money, not enough friends, not enough opportunity, not enough joy, not enough safety, not enough of anything. That’s not my government doing this to me. It’s me.

So, I am humming a tune because I am not afraid anymore. I certainly care about what happens to people around me and I will certainly experience fear again, but I will not be afraid and I am done being angry. There is a difference.

Meanwhile, on my table… Little paper-mâché fawns will travel. Fearlessly.


Voices… a Buck, a Doe and a Fawn

I have not been here in a while. I thought I’d explain why I come and go; why I create and disappear; why… Why do we feel we have to justify everything?

Remember the first answering machines? My mother bought hers in the 70’s, I believe. Everybody at the time had a similar message. The words may have varied, but the gist of it was consistent. In fact, the majority were constructed around the same three “pillars:” We stated the number that had just been dialed (or the name associated with the household), we justified why we could not come to the phone and finally promised to return the call as soon as possible. Many people even changed their greeting message with every changing activity that kept them away from the phone.

To this day, many of us naturally seek to justify our actions as though we assumed we are being judged; for being 5 minutes late, for changing our minds, for breaking something by accident, for not being home, for everything. Sorry I am late, ___________. Fill in the blank, in absolute detail. Why can’t we just say, “Sorry I am late. Good to see you. How are you?” End of introductions. Let the real encounter begin. There is a lot of insecurity in the background of our being when we are busy explaining. Of course, sometimes explanations are in order. Often, we just fill in the blank automatically.

There was an interview with a psychologist on the radio, a while back, who was interested in this very phenomenon. He suggested that the advent of email contributed to this behavior, but that he suspected answering machines provided the initial turning point. They created an environment where others could enter our space, so to speak, even in our absence. Thus the instinctive need to justify, and excuse, said absence. And if you’re taking messages, then you have to justify not returning them promptly; you have to justify doing things at your own pace.

Email took this a step further. Now, we have an inbox that accumulates a large volume of input and demands. Emails, more so than the answering machine, observed the psychologist (wish I could remember his name), opened the door to all manners of white lies: “Your message probably went to the SPAM folder and I did not know.” That’s a classic, he pointed out. Texting added a touch of urgency.

And this brings us to Blogs and Facebook pages. We are expected to keep up the conversation. And I struggle with this. Sometimes, I go quiet for a month or two.

So I was. And I am back. For now. It is what it is. Nothing to explain. While I was gone, these new creatures came to mind and took shape. The buck lives at Grand Isle Art Works. The doe and fawn live at Sweet Grass Gallery.