I am having trouble picking up my camera lately. The spark of creativity is buried underneath a pallor of human unkindnesses. Can't watch the news or read the internet or walk through the staffroom without feeling personally assaulted in some way. The world outside is coming alive with wonderful spring light and peeps of color. The air is warm and alive with happy chirps and the whir of wings as life gets busy making more life.
But I stare at it from inside. Unable to move. Tears spill over without warning. There's a sharpness to my speech. Breathing is shallow as it burns in my chest. I feel like a thousand elephants sit on top of me. The only solace is my walking buddy, Toby, who insists on his daily walk - which we do. Most of the time. And I always feel, a little, better. I turn off the tv. I limit the internet to communicating with friends and family on "good things", researching fun lessons, or playing a mindless game (or 2) of (dare I say it), CandyCrush. But I can't avoid the other day to day stuff. Either way I turn, someone is ready to pour a pot of boiling oil on me or someone else or anyone in their way. There is so much unhappiness and spite around. It's blocking the view.
Self rescue. After a brisk 2.5 mile walk with the Tobster, I started quelling through files of images for my "Querencia" project. While this image isn't especially artistic in an 'oh wow' kind of way, it certainly touches on where I can retreat and draw my strength from. A simple, armless, cushy chair flanked by books on one side and a Chinese red side table with objects that impart great love and mutual respect on the other.
The walrus tusk was my late husband's. He found it in Alaska, back in the early 1980s, on some beach in the Aleutian Islands - I think. He was a bush pilot, bringing scientists to remote places for study. The tusk was just laying on the beach near the walruses the scientists were observing - as the story goes. For several decades, it sat in a dusty shadow box, not sure where to place it. Then, a dear artist friend saw it one day, less than 2 years ago, when he delivered some metal sculptures I bought from him. He graciously offered to make me a stand to showcase the simple beauty of this sentimental relic from my past in exchange for some of my framed photographs. Deal! Resting on the base of the tusk display is a painted rock. A gift from a former principal who knew I was struggling within a toxic marriage. "A paperweight, a soul to watch over you, or a tool to get him to listen to you," she impishly told me. Three souls. One display. Reminders of kinder times.
None of these people are alive anymore. All passed far too young and fairly sudden. My husband was in his 30s. My sculpture friend, maybe 60. My principal friend, 45. I think of them often and miss them dearly. All had a great sense of humor, were wonderful and fun company, and knew what unconditional love was. They all had many, many friends. People loved being around them - each in their own personal way. You could be assured of much fun and merriment in company of any one of them. When I sit in that chair, with a book to take my mind off of things I cannot change, they are there with me. Nudging me forward. Reminding me of all the love I have received and of all the love I have to give - in spite of those unhappy souls who cannot see their own worth.
Querencia. Being grounded. That place where one retreats to gather strength and feel safe and be reminded that it really is okay.
I feel, a little, better already.