Somewhere outside Burnsville, NC the urgent stirring begins in my gut, my heart, my hands. I am antsy to get back to the cottage. I begin to prepare myself for the daunting way before me; it's time to hold myself creatively accountable. What do I have if I deny myself the duty and satisfaction of the work I know and love? The days past have been ridden with a guilty conscience...the task of building a discipline and practice, a structure within which I can create regularly has been pushed to the back burner for far too long. How many times have I introduced myself as a visual artist on this journey? But, when my life lacks any even illusory permanence...when my sense of self and place has been so transient, how do I make art?
First preparation...lose the guilt over wasted time, missed opportunity, unfinished projects, hypocrisy. You are here, now, with the familiar urge; use it. Be you- here- now.
Then the walk across the lawn to the barn - something I've put off for days - but the latch lifts so easily, freeing the old grey door on its hinges, and just inside is the unwanted plywood I suspected would be there. About 2 1/2' x 3'
Turn down the rare invitation to a social event in town, though another part of me hungers for it. Can't have everything all at once, and making just one god damn thing gets priority over introducing myself as a thing-maker to the local community of thing-makers. Walk my words, or stop using them.
A fresh cup of coffee streamlines the gathering of anything with which I might possibly want to be locked in the attic with me for the next few hours. The pile in the abandoned room grows quickly...up and down the stairs, up and down, up and down. Push away the dead wasps so I don't have to listen to them crunch.
Some sort of ritual needs to happen. To separate this fresh start from all the others that went stale, or all the times I don't get past the sketchbook. To clear out the remaining guilt and self-flagellation. To face a major change towards self-direction and will-power that is pretty fucking intimidating. Up until now: ex-art student dabbling as though it was all for a hobby, and now: holding myself to it in spite of all the glaring obstacles (life on a bus, days of farm-work, no money to speak of, minimal materials, no real professional roots anywhere, and especially not locally.) Pursuing a crazy dream as pragmatically as possible. Intimidating.
I wash my face. Remove jewelry. Tie a kerchief around my skull. Clean, comfortable clothes. Last couple of things to the attic. The door won't close all the way because the floor is crooked. It smells too much like someone else up here...light some incense. One item at a time, I spread the pile out around me and my plywood board. Three kinds of glue (none ideal), murky water from the tap (spring-fed, post monsoon), old fabric, Jay's leather bowling ball case with our reject home depot house paints, some acrylics, and Max's beautiful set of brushes, black India ink. The panels I still haven't sent my patient sponsors. Microscope prints and other people's family vacation snapshots (one of a red stunt plane inverting over a crowd of people in 70s attire, in the perfect blue sky.) Margaret Doney's brown striped suitcase, with all the materials from school that I probably won't find inspiring for another five years. All the sketches from the past four months, waiting to become something greater.
Then a whole backpack of aids for if I lose my way, or sense an impending spiritual or creative crisis, or become impatient or self-loathing. The Shipping News in case I need to just escape. A book of Native American wisdom (preferred door to the monomyth) in case I need to remember humility...take myself less seriously, jojoba oil in case it's just a case of dry skin, the iChing in case I need a grounding dose of direct perspective, mooikite jasper. A camera to remember the journey, and to remember to have patience for change. The ohm necklace from Bri. Oh, Bri! Our little bubble was a cozy one!
The first three hours on the piece went like this:
It's a start.