“Art generates its own energy and warmth
different from the heat produced by physical work
something I cannot explain.”
Andy Goldsworthy, TIME
photo credit: MARY-HEATHER COGGER
Some things feel so arbitrary. Summer, for instance. Today is glorious, soft, fragile, redolent, sunny and warm with a sweet breeze flirting at the curtains.
And so, for me, this is absolutely the first day of summer, for sure– yet, the Farmer’s Almanac would have me believe otherwise. Whatever. Sort of like how they decide what constitutes Belgium or Austria– depends on the century and who won the war, but no need to go there.
I am here. Sinking into my most favorite time of the year – sweet sweet summertime. Before I melt away, however– I wanted to share my own thoughts about this last gathering. I trust you had time to read through the heartfelt reflections shared on the last post. It is such a gift to me that people share in this way and provide such a beautiful glimpse into their experience as I would never know if they didn’t take the time to write it down for all to see.
(Yes, I snuck the dogs in for a swim. Shhh, don’t tell. Let’s keep this between us, m’kay?)
It’s not easy for me to write in the time following a Squam. I am generally pretty flat, fuzzy-headed, and decidedly awkward as I navigate the inevitable low-tide vacuum that follows any big creative outpouring. My words don’t seem to fit together. All I want to do is sit by the window and listen to music or head to the beach and walk the dogs.
And yet, I want to share from this place as I think there can be so much judgement around
- UP + BUSY+ PRODUCTIVE = GOOD
- slow + flat + empty + quiet = bad
I beg to differ. Some of my greatest lessons in life, some of my sweetest, most tender experiences have come out of feeling the fragile emotions that follow putting your heart out into the world (whether through photographs, writing, art, etc).
One thought that often rolls up to shore in a low-tide season: I should not be feeling this way.
Whatever “this way” means — tired, sad, quiet, disappointed, empty, less than great, etc. Somehow there’s a misguided idea in my head that the “right” way to live is to be happy (with a capital H) all the time.
I know, right?
What I am learning to see is that I want to be open to the ENTIRE wavelength of emotion and not judge the up or the down — instead, I am learning to celebrate the the full range and all the gifts that I find along the exposed seashore.
This is actually where I get to have the experience
of transformation that happens for others at Squam.
And, it has been so deeply nurturing for me to discover this that I wanted to share it with you for when you are following a great project, or output of creative energy.
Low-tide can give you access to whole new realms of compassion, gentleness and life-expansion if you open to it.
At least, it has been that way for me.
photos above: ASHLEY HIGGS
One last little bit I want to share from the weekend was that the joke about unicorns at Squam has come full circle.
If you aren’t aware– there is much talk about unicorn sightings at Squam– silly, yes? Of course.
Ridiculous. Everyone knows there is no such thing as a unicorn.
And then, Friday morning as I sat in the dining hall drinking coffee, Ashley Higgs raced up to me rather breathless. She had just finished a run along the lake. The dialogue went something like this.
ASHLEY: Elizabeth! I was running the Five-Finger trail . . .
ME: *mind racing – oh god, she twisted her ankle on one of the roots or rocks*
ASHLEY: . . and I got something in my foot.
ME *mind racing faster OH GOD, she stepped on a nail.*
ASHLEY: . . . I got back to my room and took off my shoe and there was something in it
ME: *she needs a TETNUS SHOT. Must get her to a hospital! Where are my car keys?*
ASHLEY: This was in my shoe. *holds out an acorn cap*
ME: *relief, ohh. a story about an acorn. nice. symbol of growth. positive. her new talisman.*
ASHLEY: I looked inside and there was glitter!
*she shows me – there is glitter in the acorn cap – something I have never seen. it must be mica but it is amazing*
ASHLEY: Elizabeth! I found your Unicorn! Your UN-ACORN!!
This pretty much sums it all up. I am always tensed for the worst and need to learn to see how people are holding out such gifts of beauty, light and magic.
CUE Florence & the Machine
HAPPINESS HIT HER LIKE A TRAIN ON A TRACK