What’s the plan

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
~ Mary Oliver

June 22, 2022

I don’t know about you, but the events of the past weeks have cranked up my attention-deficit tendencies as my brains thinks “I need to work on that issue which affects this and this issue, and then there’s this other issue which is also connected to this that and the other issue, but they’re all so so important and need immediate attention, so where to focus?”

And that’s how they want it. They’ve intentionally created chaos and hardship in order to grind us down. A whack-a-mole world in which we’re forced to constantly swing our mallets at the problems, diluting our energies and coating us in a thick layer of despair. (Brace yourselves for an upcoming SCOTUS opinion on the EPA and the end of environmental regulations.)

But, as Mariame Kaba says “Let this radicalize you rather than lead you to despair.” [Note: one of the best books I’ve read, ever, is Kaba’s We Do This ‘Til We Free Us]. And as for my ADD thoughts about where to put my efforts, I found this Twitter thread immensely helpful:

The gist is: keep on doing what you’re doing PLUS be intentional about strengthening ties with other organizations/efforts to create more collaboration. Build on what you’re already doing.

Personally, my current plan is to continue revising my middle grade novel that’s a friendship story set against a backdrop of PIC abolition and restorative justice. Doing that work helps me avoid despair. Creativity has always brought me peace and balance, so add a pinch of radicalism in the content plus weave in some of what I’m continuing to learn, and I’m (currently) feeling solid re my focus in this one wild and precious life.

Please, reach out if you think your efforts/interests might align so that together we can build something bigger and stronger. ☀️

#Caturday truths

You can observe a lot by just watching. ~ Yogi Berra

October 9, 2021

Marcel takes Yogi’s sage insight to heart, watching out the window as his brother Loki naps beside him, oblivious to the birds on the awning.

Meet Joe

This is Joe, the horse we met while walking on South Boulder Creek Trail a couple weeks back. Despite sticking out his tongue as two women approached, Joe was exceedingly friendly. And quite handsome. Not that I’ve ever encountered a not-handsome horse.

March 1, 2022

A horse is the projection of peoples’ dreams about themselves – strong, powerful, beautiful – and it has the capability of giving us escape from our mundane existence. ~ Pam Brown

Note: I’m still experiencing vision issues and have cut way back on screen time which means I haven’t been reading and commenting on posts. I hope to be back and caught up soon. Stay healthy, all!

The weakening eye of day

February 2, 2022

I leant upon a coppice gate
      When Frost was spectre-grey,
And Winter’s dregs made desolate
      The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
      Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
      Had sought their household fires.
from Thomas Hardy’s The Darkling Thrush

On death

I just learned that a neighbor died. Alone. In their home. I don’t know any details beyond that. In trying to process all this, I went in search of a quotation that might speak to me and help make sense of the situation. This, from Kurt Vonnegut, caught my eye: There is love enough in this world for everybody, if people will just look. That sentiment felt applicable because of how the neighbor had alienated others to the extent that no one could pinpoint for the police when the neighbor had last been seen. In my mind, the aloneness had been needlessly self-inflicted over the years, destroying relationships that had once thrived. Then I happened upon this quotation from Orson Welles: We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone. Who was I to pity the neighbor when every one of us will make that final trip alone? Our neighbor was fiercely independent and very proud of that fact.

I recently read Smoke Gets In Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Crematory which was quite helpful, not only because it put death in perspective, but also for leading me to human composting. For years, I’d been telling Zippy that when I die I wanted him to toss my body in the forest so that the crows and whatever else could feast on my remains. He patiently and repeatedly pointed out how he’d probably get in serious trouble for disposing of his wife’s body in the woods. But now I have a plan that’s legal and suits my wishes. It’s incredibly freeing to know that when I die, my body will not only return to the soil but also enrich the earth. I hope my neighbor experienced a similar peace by having a death plan in place. I also hope their death was swift and painless, and that they maintained their sense of indomitability to the very end. When your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home. ~ Tecumseh

This flower from my garden is a stand-in for the photos I took years ago of my neighbor’s iris. They were out of state that spring and sad to miss their garden in bloom, so I documented the display and sent it along. Remembering that connection eases some of today’s shock.

May 13, 2020

Death forces us to think more about life and how we’re spending our finite time here. Zippy and I are grateful to have our sons visiting now and we’ve shared even more hugs than usual today. If you’ve read this far, thank you for sharing in these musings with me. I’m grateful for our connection.

Martin Luther King, Jr: all life is interrelated

Here’s yet another prescient reminder from MLK, this from his  1965 Oberlin Commencement address (“Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution”):

“All I’m saying is simply this: that all mankind is tied together; all life is interrelated, and we are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of identity. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. For some strange reason I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what I ought to be until I am what I ought to be – this is the interrelated structure of reality.” 

Every single issue you can think of — global pandemic, ecological collapse, mass incarceration, wealth inequality, etc. — is addressed in that statement. ALL life is interrelated. And yet, here we are, still madly dancing to capitalism-a-go-go.

Mixed messages from March

It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.  ~ Charles Dickens

Exactly so, Mr. Dickens. Which is why I’m sitting in a patch of sunshine next to this geranium that’s reaching for the warm light.

March 29, 2021

The wind can’t touch us here.

Speak peace

Common Grackle. Grand Island, NE. June 2, 2020

As an artist I come to sing,
but as a citizen, I will always speak for peace,
and no one can silence me in this.
~ Paul Robeson

Infinite storm of beauty

Uncompahgre National Forest, July 30, 2019.

When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty.  ~ John Muir

Bee wisdom

Bee and Fern Bush, August 4, 2020

The bee collects honey from flowers in such a way as to do the least damage or destruction to them, and he leaves them whole, undamaged and fresh, just as he found them. ~ Saint Francis de Sales

Today I embrace procrastination

It’s 2:30 of the p.m. in Colorado and while I have opened my Scrivener document, I haven’t done any writing. But hey, I didn’t even get that far yesterday. I’ve been in recovery and thinking mode as I sort through the wreckage of my incomplete first draft, and guilt-feelings sent me to BrainyQuote in search of insights regarding procrastination. I thought I’d find some tsk-tsk kind of quote that would be like a slap upside the head, something to “shame” me into getting back to work.

Instead, I found these two quotes from psychologist and author, Adam Grant:

Procrastinating is a vice when it comes to productivity, but it can be a virtue for creativity.

Procrastination gives you time to consider divergent ideas, to think in nonlinear ways, to make unexpected leaps.

Image by mohamed ramzee from Pixabay

And while this may sound self-serving, I have experienced a couple out-of-left-field realizations about my story. Which is all to say, I’m gonna let go of the guilt and shame, post this, and then explore those realizations more thoroughly.

Missteps

I’d written just under 40,000 words of my latest middle-grade novel when it hit me: it’s not working. As in, not working as written. The story’s premise is solid (I believe), but the way I was telling the story was not working.

Yesterday I went all the way back to chapter two and tried again. The good news is that approach  feels stronger. More sustainable. The bad news? Adopting that approach will mean scrapping a whole lot of those 40k words. Yikes. How could I get it so wrong?

Welp, as author Thomas Mann noted: A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.

I’m feeling a bit discouraged. But like this House Finch outside my window today, I need to accept that I bobbled the initial landing.

    

And just keep on writing so that

I regain my footing in the story. It’s all I can do.

Sunday Confessional: saved by a sloth

I’ve got strong feelings about ALL SORTS OF STUFF right now and felt a rant rising inside me. But as I tried to pin down exactly what I wanted to convey, I paused and reconsidered. Maybe what I really wanted to do was post about the writing life: the process, my progress, the angst and insecurities, etc. I’ve written many such posts over the years and appreciate that documentation which reminds me I’ve been here before and survived. Breathe, Tracy.

Which is how I began searching through Douglas Adams quotes, knowing he wasn’t an angsty guy but would provide me with the tone needed today. And here’s what resonated with me:

My absolute favourite piece of information is the fact that young sloths are so inept that they frequently grab their own arms and legs instead of tree limbs, and fall out of trees.  ~ Douglas Adams

Image by Minke Wink from Pixabay

Why does this resonate? One: it cracked me up. Two: I can relate to those young sloths because Three: as I near the end of this first draft, I vacillate between an overwhelming sense of ineptness and glimmers of “hot damn, this might actually not suck too much!”

And at the risk of sounding like a sloth-shamer: I haven’t yet fallen out of the tree.

Too long

American Robin. January 21, 2020.

A wind has blown the rain away and blown the sky away and all the leaves away, and the trees stand. I think, I too, have known autumn too long.   ~ e.e. cummings

Tree songs

Bockman Campground, State Forest State Park. June 12, 2019

A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease.  ~ John Muir

#Caturday with Loki

As anyone who has ever been around a cat for any length of time well knows, cats have enormous patience with the limitations of the human kind.  ~ Cleveland Amory

Loki on November 20, 2020

And we’re really stretching their feline patience these days. Come on, human kind. We’ve got to do much, much better.

Creating a merrier world

American Goldfinch out my window, October 1, 2019.

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.  ~ J. R. R. Tolkien

This goldfinch seems to embrace that philosophy, as do I.