Today is the winter solstice, the darkest night of the year. For now I have put down my paintings and my calligraphy tools. From today until the new year, I am not creating anything further. I am making an effort to forge space for the coming light by clearing out and putting into order what I already have in my studio. I am also thinking about any relationships that are in disorder. I begin by making room for forgiveness– for myself and others.
It is the time of year when there are family gatherings in the midst of political uncertainty. All kinds of upheavals are likely to occur. The word, uncertainty, is the key.* Being willing not to know– in creating, making, and in conversation– is crucial in terms of being able to listen. In dialogue, I have to leave open the possibility, lo and behold, that I am not right– (and forgive myself when I persist in thinking that I am!) I remind myself that those with opposing views have something valuable to offer.
In the process of sorting through a myriad of scraps in my studio, it was comforting to find you can stumble and still be forgiven (which I wrote down incorrectly). Stafford goes on to say: your shadow practices. To me this means that bringing to awareness the things that are unresolved, and that I don't want to carry into the new year– that this awareness and readiness itself brings movement. Added to my scraps of paper are notes on what I wish to let go of, to throw into the fire, so there is more room for becoming in the new year.
And your shadow joins everything that ever failed in the world, or triumphed unknown, alone....
The Buddhist practice of loving kindness is helpful to me: when I am confronted with a gathering, for example, that is contentious– instead of assessing it in terms of whether I am pleased, or not pleased– (which creates more unhappiness)– I can say to myself: where is my heart, what do I truly care about here?
I will end with this poem from William Stafford, and a genuine wish to all of you dear readers: May your burden be lighter in the coming year, and may your hearts be glad.
When you stop off at rehearsal you can stumble
and still be forgiven. Your shadow practices. A light
says, “Good, good,” where the piano meditates
with its wide grin, maintaining order as usual
but already trembling for time to go again.
Outside the hall a monstrous Oregon night
moans with its river of wind. It stumbles. Lights
flicker, and your shadow joins everything that ever
failed in the world, or triumphed unknown, alone,
wrapped in that secret mansion where genius lives.
Maybe it is all rehearsal, even when practice
ends and performance pretends to happen in the light
that remembers more than it touches, back through all
the rows and balcony tiers. Maybe your stumbling
saves you, and that sound in the night is more than
the wind. (Practice, by Wm Stafford)
How do you resolve what is unresolved in your heart, and make room for what you wish in the new year? I'd love to hear from you.
*(Reading Brain Pickings* on the difference between dialogue and discussion, is illuminating). https://www.brainpickings.org/