Life and Death and Creative Work
Poignant and timely. This is another push for me to write about the losses in my life, and how forgiveness plus the conviction that we are more than our bodies has helped me with that flow of life within me, without me, and without those I love.
I got goosebumps reading the last few paragraphs. This sentence, in particular: "And so, our own creative energy is, in fact, life itself—not the handful of scraps we clumsily cling to."
I've been trying very hard to really accept and learn that I am not my 'scraps', for a good long while. This sentence and image jumped right out at me and I feel like I want to have it somewhere on a wall where I can see it every day. How to live from this knowing? The last few years have been very challenging ones in my world too. I know I have to face it all and do my best with it, just as you and your wife so valiantly showed up with everything you had for your friend and his family when they needed you. But at the same time, I need so much to be able to show up to the demands and dramas of each day without feeling like each of these difficult experiences becomes another weighty badge of suffering and exhaustion that I wear.
Since becoming a mother four years ago and finding that my life contains ever so many more priorities than the ones about looking after myself and my personal wishes, I've struggled with how to find a place for the creative energies and gifts that still flit around my mind in moments when I'm taking a shower, hanging out the endless laundry, or rushing to get to the bedtime routine in time. I've never been so busy in my life and cannot imagine a more unsuitable situation to try to carve out time for creative work. But some strange voice in me whispers that despite this, or maybe even because of this, now IS the time. Your very moving essay and this intriguing thought that perhaps my creativity IS me, my life force, will stay with me. Thank you.
I wonder if you realize how brilliant you are. This is a thought-provoking and powerful piece, stretching me out of my comfort zone of reality. Thank you for this gift and all of these meaningful quotes. I am now in my 40s but yes on everything changing so much, what I think about and care about and how I want to spend my time and energy. Your Julian of Norwich quote even brings in synchronicity for me. Blessings. I literally felt my mind being stretched as I read your words and even tears attempting to bubble up.
This was a very poignant assessment of life and art and existence. I love all the quotes, but my favorites were “life flows on within you and without you” and “be patient towards all that is unsolved in your heart.” They both resonated in my core. I, too, am approaching 40 and have noticed a difference in my thoughts, attitudes, and fears about death. About losing friends. Losing parents. Losing lovers. About things left unsaid and left undone. Dreams not yet realized. Yesterday, I heard about a survey of people near the end of their lives and their regrets. Most did not regret things they had done; they regretted things they DIDN’T do. That along with your piece has made me reflect on my priorities. Thank you for writing this.
Reading Julian of Norwich at the moment... and yes that is a great summation of your post. All will be well.
“Existence is not the handful of water you scoop out of the stream; it is the continuous flowing.” ~Jeff Goins
Jim Rohn was one of my greatest teachers. He once said, “In life, we need a lot more reminding than instructing.” He was probably borrowing from Samuel Johnson...
Your quote above Jeff is a brilliant, poignant, reminder...
I also took great pleasure in reflecting on this idea:
“The paradox of life is where good art comes from. It is the point from which all creative endeavor originates: the play between knowing we are inherently special and at the same time completely irrelevant. Such a maddening paradox is a wonderful place from which to create.” ~Jeff Goins
I actually could go on and on because this is one of the most quote rich pieces you’ve ever created.
As I think about “the state” from which this article emerged, I see all the evidence required to support this final quote:
“Maybe the old idea of a soul isn’t so antiquated, after all. Perhaps, our very being is not the clouds that flit by but something deeper and holier and more expansive than we could ever imagine.”
Perhaps, “The Great Mystery” wanted to remind you of both who and whose you are... 🤔
This is profoundly and beautifully written. As a long covid neruo damage sufferer of six, grueling months, age 35, three kids, wifed up, and maybe at my half way point (or later...!) I am constantly grappling with my handle on life and death. I know there is an escape after this, where there is no tangible pain or stress, but this ride is such a visceral one, how can I not cling to it after realizing its worth?
This rocked me a bit, in ways I wasn't ready to be rocked. But I'm so glad to once again be reminded that today, as cold and grey and painful as it is, is worth celebrating.
Thank you for this.
For Love & Poetry,
In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.
I recently discovered your newsletter, and am so glad I did. You really have a gift for writing that, frankly, I did not sense in your books from years back. There's been a maturation that is delightful to behold.
As for death, yes, it's very much top of mind, having recently turned 50. In fact, a few weeks ago, I wrote a piece on the subject, and I closed it out with a quote from your own piece, "Today."