Again and again and again. 2020. This week my inbox and social media is crowded with messages like yours, I’m sure. We are all feeling and seeing and reeling from fires, viruses, deaths and disasters.
One email focused on letting it all go. Jen Louden made a great point, “There’s a profound difference between surrendering to what is vs. falling into the grubby kind of “why bother? I’m learning to navigate between the two. I’m learning to feel my disappointment and heartache while dropping my stories like, I suck because __________ didn’t work or never happened.”
Inspiration and work.
I admit, I’ve been in the ‘let it all go’ giving up phase. I also admit, I was heading for ‘why bother’ land. Louden’s email helped me feel the difference and steer myself back on the road.
I found a quote from Maya Angelou’s poem, “Still, I rise” and I read her strong, beautiful, determined words over and over. My heart ached for her pain, saw her courage and felt my own small world rise.
Her words were the inspiration for a new piece. And I delivered it to a new gallery this week. Somehow the birds I’ve been making, Maya Angelou’s wonderful poem and the gallery’s 12x12 square all came together like magic.
Being useful to the world.
In the wake of Ruth Beader Ginsberg’s death, an email from Maria Shriver, Sunday Paper arrived with a question of how to turn despair into action. Asking everyone, “how you can be used right now. This is not a time for despair. This is not a time to bow out or go quiet. This is a seminal moment for each of us to dig in and dig deep.”
As an artist, how can I be used right now? I throw and hand build bowls, teacups, vases and birds in clay. This is not a revolutionary thing to do. My pieces don’t shout or march or protest.
But, I realized the other day, they do make a statement. A friend came by my studio to buy one of my red ‘cup of love’ teacups.
In the process, she loved and bought a bowl with the words, “Believe Love”.
And smiled happily at my Caterpillar/Butterfly with the words: love, joy, true, act, brave, kind.
So maybe in letting it all go, I steered myself into new work that helped me rise. And maybe it will help my friend and others to rise, too.
Despite the fear, death and smoke, I can hear Maya Angelou’s wonderful, brave words:
“Still, like dust, I’ll rise”, “Still I’ll rise”, “Still, like air, I rise”, and “I rise. I rise. I rise.”