A sinus headache burrowed its way into my brain during the night, several hours before I floated up enough from the sea of sleep to really notice. By then it’s claws were sunk in.
I have a panoply of remedies, from hot compresses to miso broth to Advil to weeding.
Pick one. See what happens.
The headache is my excuse for the moments of self-pity that appear in this post. I hope you’ll forgive me. I’ll forgive myself, just because it ends faster that way.
Trip. Fall. Get up.
A long time ago, I dreamed of hooking up my piano in some magic way so that I’d be able to play color. I’d link the notes to the colors they sounded like so I could create color chords.
I’m certain the technology now exists to do that. But I dissembled my beloved parlor grand. (Really. Took it apart myself. That’s a story for another day.) It was beyond repair. I’m not a great player, but I really miss it. A house is not a home without a piano.
Sketch for a score (a terrible reproduction)
I’m in my favorite chair, listening to a favorite piece of music: September Fifteenth. Watching a TedX of Hang Time. Seeing, in my mind’s eye, more pieces to be made in a series I’ve been working on. (Cascade was one of them.) Realizing that together they form a score.
Who will play them? Put them out in the world and see what music comes back, (though I’m not sure I’d want to sift through all of it.)
This leads to thirty seconds of self-pity: piles of administrative work to do in my office, orders to fill, spreadsheets, records . . . WHAT AN I DOING WITH MY TIME!?! But this is how my life has unfolded, and the expansive space for doing raw, unbounded creative work isn’t quite there. Yet. Part of my hope for Patreon. We shall see.
So “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” Shift to gratitude. Bad moods contract. Gratitude is more expansive. ACIM this morning: “I will not hurt myself again today.” Perfect.
Perhaps we fall into the lives we need to live rather than those we imagine. Perhaps the works in our imaginations live elsewhere, regardless of whether or not they take a physical form. Why would they appear, sipping coffee, listening to music that stretches my heart so far it breaks open?
Cascade II (detail)
THE STORY OF A PRAYER FOR AMERICAN DEMOCRACY
Here's what happened. The day after the 2016 presidential election I was stunned. I kept going over the vote count state-by-state. My neighborhood was as engulfed in gloom as it had been joyous after Obama’s first win.
The second day I considered my options: despair, emigration or an extremely long nap. Ultimately I decided to become more politically active.
For the first Women’s March I made a series of downloadable posters people could print out and carry. That continued for other marches and is on-going. I charged a small amount for the first posters, but I soon realized I wanted them to be free.
Around that time Indivisible.org was hosting an event featuring Senator Bob Casey, State Senator Art Haywood, and State Rep. Chris Rabb. I was running late so I grabbed my keys and hightailed it out of the house. When I arrived the church was nearly empty, and my first thought was “Oh no! They’re going to be so disappointed!” Turns out I was an hour early.
I introduced myself to the organizers, asked if I could help set up, and was tasked with making signs. (Is it that obvious??) After we finished, I asked if they knew who was running for state offices, and who, if anyone, was working on those races.
It turned out Sen. Art Haywood and others had been strategically identifying “flippable” seats in PA. Some seats hadn’t even had a Democratic challenger in years! Art’s group enlisted the strongest, most progressive candidates they could find to run, formalized their initiative as TurnPABlue, and organized to win those races.
I offered to host meet-greet & fund-raise events at my studio gallery space.
The first post-election event was for now-State Senator Katie Muth. I offered to make her some non-traditional campaign posters, and we identified two images she liked (both abstract, bless her heart.)
Another event was “speed-dating for Reps” for six women running for State House. It was great fun and a joy to meet such an inspiring group of candidates. The money raised was shared equally, and they worked collaboratively on their campaigns. (Women. Need I say more?) I did posters for another candidate, as well as one for TurnPABlue.
Four of the six speed-dating women won, plus we added four dynamite women to our all-male Congressional delegation. Chrissy Houlihan, Mary Gay Scanlon, Madeleine Dean and Susan Wild wasted no time when they got to Washington, and I was pleased to learn that recently Mary Gay (already a committee vice-chair) read the Mueller report into the Congressional Record.
My memory is that the tax bill passed on a Friday, because I recall being outraged all weekend, ferociously angry in an out-of-character way. I knew I needed to transform that energy into something productive, and it's said that action with conscience is prayer.
During my meditation Monday morning an idea arose. When I went to the studio, A Prayer for American Democracy was born.
I communicate more articulately in paint than in words. Sometime I hope you can see this painting in person at full-size, but even at calendar-scale, I hope it conveys the energy and deep feelings from which it was born.
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