Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Pause Between Chapters

Last night was the first in awhile to be alone in my little cave. Details of the day needed tidying up, and then I set out both guitars and a mic stand, prepared for a good long practice for tonight’s practice with Cache. Two or three songs into it, repeating each one several times to get them right, it seemed my heart was not involved and the songs felt labored, the harmonies out of tune. My intuition informed me it was time to stop, so I settled for a movie, but fell fast asleep.

Our culture is so driven to produce and excel, invent, accumulate, account and prosper, I find allowing myself to rest to be a very difficult exercise. If we take time off, it often gets filled with an adventure to travel, climb a mountain, raft down a river, bike a thousand miles. Even to the beach, I go with books, balls and binoculars, always seeking, rarely drifting.

Never mind the activities of the last month, a creative burst such as I have never known; I fight the on-rushing sleep, thinking this is a night alone, a time when much can be done without interruption. The list is so long, cumbersome and pressing, I think, surely there must be something I could do, plenty of things I should (taxes!), but like legs struggling through mud in a bad dream, I can not move forward.

Even in this lackluster moment, I am quick to note progress. Last month, for example, over several days I complained of a similar malaise, actually worse, a brain so foggy coherent thought was elusive. I wandered from task to task half-heartedly, then suddenly burst out with new songs, focused attention on words, played shows and attended meetings for projects burgeoning with potential.

I could acknowledge, at least afterwards, that those few days of disorientation were necessary, perhaps vital to the process. Ideas percolated, energy gathered in preparation of the surge. Intellectually, I know the importance of rest, but my body and habit resist with such strength, the benefit feels often wasted.

So too, I look at the busy days and weeks ahead and can easily excuse myself to fall asleep at mid-evening, yet I awake this morning with foolish guilt and determination to make up for the "lost" time. Perhaps it is a natural by-product of writing a book, especially one so personal following the script of my own illustrative crimes, misdemeanors and heart-felt efforts, but I am thinking in chapters, and feel strongly that I am at the end of one, stepping boldly forward into the next.

Soon my feet will walk on the soft sand of the Oregon beach I once knew so well. With neither books nor balls, and binoculars perhaps just to better commune with the whales, I will finally walk with my son where I once walked so often with my Oregon daughters. I will climb the Mountain, not to be the first, oldest, or wisest, but because from that height thirty years ago, I pondered the world and my place in it with a naïveté that believed time was boundless and death an abstraction. I am curious to discover how it all will appear to me now.

The high cliff of the Punchbowl plummeting into the sea—where I once foolishly led trusting friends to near disaster, often sat alone in contemplation of a failing marriage, and witnessed the whales dance on the day Mt. St. Helen’s erupted—urges me back to peer over the edge once again, wondering if I might still catch the faintest glimpse of the rainbow that lingered in the ashes of a friend thrown to the sea. In the process, I will be separating the dust from the ashes of my own life, a phoenix just as much as my sister’s house rebuilt after the fire that wedded them to the Mountain.

No wonder last night, my body recognized it was a chance for me to rest.

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Laurie said...

There are times when we are to just be still. To have the time an not use it to rest and recharge, is a waste. NEVER feel guilty for finding some extra sleep. I would write a longer comment but I am going to hit the hay early! LOL!

Anonymous said...

Kip, Laurie is correct, we do need that moments to be still. I always find too that the days when I am uninspired, the more that I try to force the act of creating, it just doesn't happen for me. I think that we just have to allow ourselves to feel and experience the lack of energy and focus, so that when it does return, it returns with renewed energy.


Zannah said...

I LOVE THAT PHOTO OF ME AND GRACE!!!!! I think it's totally hysterical and telling that I am eating a rock! I have always been different and stubborn. :)