Interior View 1
This being New England, where the natives like to say “if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes,” over the past weeks we have had all seasons represented, from a windy chill that speaks of winter, to warm rainy grayness more suited to April or May than October, to perfect cool autumn crispness and high sun that illuminates all the fiery color in the trees. And days ago it was briefly hot and humid enough to be midsummer! But regardless of the misleading and erratic conditions, this time of year always makes me turn inwards. It is a time for curtains to be drawn, and homes to feel like cosy retreats and not merely rest stops between the places we really need or want to be. I love all seasons, but I was winter born and have always liked dim lighting and quiet comfortable surroundings, as if there were always a soft deep snowfall outside, providing the perfect excuse to hunker down and enjoy being safe, warm and dry indoors.
Interior View 2
My last post brought up some interesting issues (and comments!) way beyond the “where did all the coolness go?” topic I had attempted to explore. I don’t claim to have all, or even any of the answers in these posts, and it does seem I end up with more questions – but I like questions, and apparently so do you good people out there! This week I’m still thinking about the world within, not just in terms of trusting and following and manifesting the inner guiding truth of who you really are, cool or not, in your professional or personal life, but also in terms of that sector of the population known (branded?) as introverts. We are social beings, yes, and crave the practical and emotional benefits of maintaining connections with our fellow humans, but some of us don’t come to it as naturally as others, it seems, and far from being sustained or revitalized by social interactions are actually depleted and displaced by them.
Automat (Edward Hopper)
This is another one of those learning curves I’m happy to report having accomplished in recent years, so happy I no longer complain that it took so long! It’s no fun to feel there is something wrong with you because your mind and heart just don’t work the way everyone else’s does, or at least the way everyone tells you they ought. People used to terrify me. Literal physical fear, as if they were brandishing weapons. I grew up in a very loving, supportive and relatively peaceful household and yet I walked through life shaken, fragile and on the verge of shattering if someone so much as approached and greeted me. I had a rich interior life, adventurous and passionate, and could even be a bit of a performer and comedian – with my immediate family. But with strangers, or in other words, everybody not me or the three blood relatives I had lived with since birth, I was mute, cheerless and seething with anxiety.
Room in Brooklyn (Edward Hopper)
I can’t be bothered to catch the ring
of the lemon-yellow window shade
and play with the level. This staggered view
of blank-faced buildings will have to do.
Let the tablecloth mind its own folds and fall.
The pale vase has had its fill of artificial flowers,
the fitted corners of the wine-dark quilt
rest uneasily as innocence thrown over guilt.
But the secondhand rocking chair
and I sit in our square of sun
no one cares how gently warm or slow to inch away
or why I finally cut my hair today.
The rest of the story will probably be familiar to some of you. I learned to use my sense of humor as a social defense, earning me positive responses from the people I was afraid of, and pre-empting any harm they might do me by getting there first with my own self-deprecating comments. In my school years and beyond, little by little, I got better at being with people, but I still didn’t like it, or them. Once the fog of fear cleared, I could see that these intimidating creatures were flawed and weak and quite often miserable. I had replaced fear with disgust, but being social was still exhausting, like suiting up every day in full armor and carrying that weight around. And whenever I was alone again, the relief felt like removing that restrictive weight, and resuming the full free fresh movements of my true self again, the way your neck feels in summer right after a short haircut.
something breaks the surface…..
So, long story short, here I am, misfit, outcast, rebel, introvert and loner still. But now I like it this way. What was once a negative thing, measuring myself by what I was NOT, has become a positive thing, taking pride in what I AM. Now I have a purpose, in the creative works that my aversion to society allowed me to develop, and with this good result, my quarrel with society has been set aside. I have the boldness of many years and survived ordeals behind me and no longer need any armor out in the world. I still prefer the interior view, content to spend entire days speaking to no one. And yet ironically it is now that I find myself in one of the most social periods of my life! I have a few good friends I trust and respect, in whose company I do not feel as if I must carry on an exhausting performance of Gabriella, and in whose wake I do not immediately feel deflated and disoriented and in need of hours up in my own head to feel myself again. I have a partner whose presence does not pull me out of myself to perform a thousand accommodations, leaving me hungry for solitude, but rather exists alongside me and blends with me so harmoniously, I feel the same whether he is nearby or not. And I have this new group of blogfriends, likeminded souls, fellow introverts, and yet some of the most socially selfless, gracious and giving persons I have ever met. Wow. Lucky girl.
with apologies to the cover photographer, Maren Wieczorek
This week’s reading spotlight is the latest creative gem from Brazilian literary lion and brilliant painter, Caio Fern. You can find his blog here. I warn you it is not for the faint of mind. He is as generous as he is talented, and while I have never met him face to face, his passion and intelligence pulse from the screen in all his words and images. So, thanks to Caio, for being Caio.
Having all these new excellent faraway friends means getting lots of good mail from all over. Caio’s book arrived last week, as did a package from Patti of Missouri Bend Studio. Patti and I are collaborating on two boxes which we will be sending back and forth to each other, adding things inside and out. There are no rules or deadlines. We have enough of that in our many other endeavors! Patti and I met on Blogger and soon discovered we had many interesting things in common, not the least of which was a love of books, an instinct to collect and organize and repurpose things in a wide variety of materials, and an obvious affinity for Joseph Cornell. I urge you to check out her site. Haven’t had as much time as I’d like to give my full attention to the blue box pictured above, but my brain is humming with possibilities, and that is one of the greatest gifts I can imagine, so thanks to Patti for that.
Flight by Fiona Dempster
Fiona is an amazing calligraphic and book artist based in Australia.See her amazing works here. I met her through Patti, and once arrived at her blog stumbled on a giveaway. I never win anything but I won this beautiful print pictured above, which arrived in the mail this week. The photo does not do it justice – made on a wisp of handmade paper, a mere feather itself, by a process of laying the feather and string on the plate, then making a second print with them removed, it possesses a sense of substance fixed in detail, along with a strange transience and fragility. Oddly, for weeks I’ve been watching feathers blow along the corridors of the converted factory in which Brian has his studio. There are pigeons roosting somewhere outside the building or within its walls, heard but rarely seen, except for these phantom feathers that find their way indoors after windy weather. Thanks to Fiona for picking my name out of the bowl and sending me an image of flight, and continued inspiration from her corner of the world, which now does not seem so very far away!
Best wishes to all, and to all a good flight!