“… Remember that The Artist’s Way is a spiral path. You will circle through some of the issues over and over, each time at a different level. There is no such thing as being done with an artistic life…. Our aim here is to find the trail, establish our footing, and begin the climb.”
— Julia Cameron
Week Three of the Artist’s Way found me going a little nutty — and that was before reading deprivation began. Uh-oh. For those of you who know me well, you realize this means you should be sending little sympathetic and encouraging notes to F. right about now. (Actually, he’s been very sweet and understanding. Last night he cooked me mittitei — probably my second favorite Romanian meal — for dinner when I wanted to keep writing. I know, I’m so lucky.)
But lucky or not, I’ve been experiencing some of the emotional swings described in Week Four. In fact, I got around to reading Week Four a little later than usual, and I felt so relieved to see it all there in black & white. You can see where it would be a comfort to read that some people experience a, b, & c right about now during the course — if you, yourself, are already experiencing a & c, and finding them unsettling.
It’s like when you call your doctor to report a random symptom and she says, oh, of course, that’s a fairly common side effect of that medicine I gave you. Always good to know you’re within the range of normal.
Well, sort of.
Anyway, it’s also been helpful to take a deep breath and remind myself of the cyclical nature of all spiritual growth. I’m either going ’round and ’round a mysterious mountain, on a seemingly pointless journey and enjoying the changing views at different altitudes, or there really is no such thing as time and this is just some clever metaphysical ruse to get me to finally WAKE UP and become conscious.
As far as the path being spiral, I’ve mentioned how spirals are powerful symbols for me, and I even wrote about some snails showing up in unexpected places in my Victory Garden recently — without making the snail/spiral connection. My friend Heather gently pointed it out to me in a wise e-mail after reading the post. Since then, I’ve been seeing spirals literally everywhere. (Reminds me of this experience, only I didn’t set out on a specific quest to locate the spirals. Or maybe I did, without realizing it, by choosing to follow TAW.)
If I were a paranoid person, I’d be getting a little nervous by now. As it is, the last sighting made me laugh. Goddess is getting a little ridiculous, and I think she’s only doing so because I’m so damn stubborn and she wishes to drive the point home. I one-upped her, however, by abandoning the morning pages. This is difficult to admit, because I’ve been writing them faithfully for almost a decade now, and I honestly didn’t think that could happen to me. I don’t even know what caused it. I just… stopped.
One morning I didn’t finish, the next morning I only did one page, and the next morning a paragraph, and the next it was as if my pen had dried up. I keep telling myself I will start again — and I keep not doing so. I feel a little lost without them.
Chapter Four struck home on this topic, as well. Now I’m asking myself precisely what I’m avoiding facing. What issue has me so fearful that I’m now avoiding meeting my thoughts on the page in stream-of-consciousness writing? (Weirdly, I’m still writing like crazy, just not the morning pages or anything resembling journaling. This blog is as close as I’ve gotten.)
So, amid the ongoing detective work, which began last chapter and continues to stir up strong feelings along with the buried dreams and memories, and the complete and total avoidance of the MPs, and with spirals popping up like dandelions in springtime, I somehow managed to complete an Artist Date for both weeks.
Artist Date, Week Three: Movie by myself.
I’m not one of those people who generally like to go to the theatre solo. But I decided to do it anyway. Because this is Seneca and I did my Artist Date on a Tuesday night, the theatre was absolutely empty. It was just me and a hundred empty folding seats and cupholders. Even the projection booth was empty. I think the film was cued by computer. The scene was a little surreal.
Yet because no one was there, I ended up displaying much more emotion than I usually would in a theatre — or even while watching a film at home with F. And it wasn’t exactly a great film. I went to see The Time Traveler’s Wife. I knew it would be a cheesy love story, which is why if I wanted to see it, I had to go alone. F. is a huge movie buff — who generally hates the Hollywood stuff and cannot stand the light romantic comedies and chick flicks I occasionally crave.
One thing I’ve come to accept: my artist child is cheesy and romantic. That’s just the way it is. And I don’t want to change her. So this was supposed to be a little treat for her. The Time Traveler’s Wife, however, provided more material for thought than for romance. As I drove home, I was mulling over the idea of time as a loop. With my face still wet from where I’d dissolved into gut-wrenching sobs at the end. (This reaction had me puzzled and worried, and then a few days later I read, “Be prepared for bursts of tears,” in Chapter Four, along with a beautiful analogy and explanation. Now I’m convinced I wasn’t crying about the movie at all.)
Artist date, Week Four: downtown Seneca, starting a vision journal.
For my fourth Artist Date, I went and saw sights like this:
Seneca is an old railroad town that has had the sense to preserve some of its heritage along the way. I suspect this was due to a fortuitous combination of poverty and isolation. I’d been wanting to photograph the side of that building since January. None of the pics turned out as I wanted, but one thing I hadn’t taken into account when fantasizing about capturing it on film is the location. I parallel parked quite easily. But then came the difficult part, where to park my body. It’s a narrow street, right near an intersection, and I had to keep dodging out of the way and once had to squeeze onto the little ledge there.
It’s less than 10 inches wide, that little space. How do I know? I had to turn my feet sideways, standing in ballet first position, while a truck roared past my nose. Making this portion of the Artist Date my most adventurous photo shoot to date, by far.
I also captured this on Ram Cat Alley.
It’s a strange and wonderful little spot. Because I’m longing for a cafe experience, I keep envisioning setting up little tables on the deck that faces this grassy ruin between buildings. Although if they ever actually open a cafe in this space, I won’t be able to afford to eat there. The prices are scandalous at the restaurants occupying real estate on this historic narrow street.
My favorite shop on the alley had closed. That made me sad. The woman who owned it had real design talent and a unique point of view. She had created a place with the feeling of a chic sanctuary, if such a thing is possible. I spent a couple of minutes staring at the empty windows and wishing her a better venue for her artistic dreams. Truth be told, she was a little avant garde for this kind of town. (Sigh.)
I wandered into an antique store instead. Where I discovered, for an unbelievable $5, a bowl that I’d lost when moving a few years ago. It’s vintage 1950s Pyrex, and I do love the vintage Pyrex. I’m not a real collector. I actually use the stuff. I’m wishing for vintage refrigerator dishes someday, as they’re so much more practical and environmentally friendly than those disposable plastic containers that are leaching toxins into our leftovers as I write.
It was like a sign, though. Something I’d loved and lost, returned to me on an Artist Date in an out-of-the-way corner of an antique store in South Carolina, of all places.
(Is time a loop?)
I also found a stack of vintage postcards and an old children’s nature book. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with the book when I saw it. About a week ago, I found How to Make a Vision Board over at Christine Kane’s blog. More things are changing in my life than would fit onto a single board. But the idea of a vision journal had slowly taken root in my subconscious and now pushed up its first little seed leaves. What about making an altered book vision journal? I thought.
“What if you screw it up?” my Ego asked. But it couldn’t argue too much when my entire investment was a dollar. So what if I screw it up? I started ripping out pages as soon as I got home.
To finish off my date, I wrote some of those postcards to people I’d been meaning to write. They’re going in the mail today.
(Photo of snail and photo of movie ticket are from Morguefile. All the rest are obviously taken by yours truly.)