Here We Are

I read somewhere that Alice Walker spent a summer by a river, making a quilt, and writing "The Color Purple". That image has sparked envy in me for years, just imagining the luxury of that one summer in another woman's life. I feel similarly about "Eat, Pray, Love", glowing a "Wicked" shade of green when I think of Elizabeth Gilbert's year in Italy, India, and Bali. How does this happen? How can I get in on it?

I loved the book, "Eat, Pray, Love", and also loved the movie, which Rick and I went to see yesterday. I'm not a book reviewer, or a film critic, so I'll just say, Read it. See it. I hope you love it too. I think I'll go see it again, for the visual numminess of it, as well as the encouragement it gives a regular girl like me to dig deeper in myself, and find the real goods. It would be (and is) really easy to sit here wishing I had a summer by a river, or an extended trip across the world. Then I could do some real writing, creating, soul searching... Yeah. Right. And that's about the time God would let out a giggle and say something eloquent like, HA! It doesn't happen for most of us that way. Sure, sometimes the magic happens, but most often we have to work within our regular lives.

After the movie yesterday, we went over to the Elk's Lodge for a tasty beverage, and then across the street for a slice of pizza. Caught up in movie magic, I broke my vegan rules for a few minutes and savored everything about that pizza. Soft white dough and melty, gooey cheese are not normally on my plate, and I believe in what I normally eat and why I eat it. But in this case, Life won out over lifestyle convictions, and that one slice of pizza was like a prayer in itself. Looking out across the valley, the dry summer hills reminded me of Italy, as they often do, and I started thinking some martini fueled, cheese laced Deep Thoughts...

Do you think, I asked me, it's possible for a regular person to do good creative work, to help other people, to find balance and inner peace and all those things we think we need to go "out there" to find, right in our own back yards? Well thanks for asking. Yes I do think it's possible. Dorothy thought so too. There's no place like home. And if Home is in each of us, and God is in each of us, then where else is there to go? 

Sure, traveling and sitting by rivers can free our minds of the mundane things that dull us into a collective creative coma. It might be easier Out There, to step out of normal and do something life-changingly wonderful, but the truth is, we have everything we need Right Here, wherever that may be. It takes more effort and planning, and a fiercely guarded dedication to our own needs and goals. But so what? My own personal reality now includes a "morning meditation" that doubles as a dog walk, complete with barking, yanking, frustration, and poop bags. So what? It includes dirt and flies and a tent to work in and a husband with a raging case of poison oak. So what? It also includes that same husband who is my best friend ever in this world, and good food and clear skies and shooting stars and visiting owls and a lake to float on. So that is what keeps my head above water and sends me flapping out the door in rubber shoes with a notebook and pencil. This is my summer by the river. This is my trip across the world. Those things might actually happen one day, with funding and comfort and freedom from having to "make a living", at least for a little while, but waiting for them would be foolish and lazy. It would just be an excuse. Here we are, and here we are, and here we are. Everything we need. No excuses. 

What am I doing with this time? I don't know... First I'm acknowledging its existence. Then maybe I'll get on my knees and pray for some good clear Further Instructions. I'll weave in some food and love and see what happens. My recipe will not be the same as Alice Walker's or Elizabeth Gilbert's, but again, so what? And a summer or a season or a year are measurements that mean little. It takes as long as it takes, whatever it is that wants to be done. Italy, India, Bali, Africa, Ashland, Taos... wherever I go, I know I'll have what I need. Now have some wine and spaghetti with me.


  1. Because Elizabeth Gilbert is an established travel writer, her publishers gave her that nice luxury advance on her book; so her work and her contacts and her reputation preceded her. She was not "undiscovered". Your prose and your philosophy are both beautifully expressed, so I have to know that your talents and hard work will be rewarded. Actually, I found Gilbert a bit awkward speaking of her developing spiritual life. Anne LaMott speaks to me far more eloquently than does EG. There are no AL movies that I know of though :-). Norine

  2. I've thought about seeing the movie for a second time, too. It was just so... beautiful. So was this post - I just read it twice.

    Norine is right - Gilbert's previous book *The Last American Man* is the biography of one of my neighbors, Eustace Conway. Knowing Eustace and seeing the simple way he lives is what helped me decide to live here in the Appalachian Mountains.

  3. Thank you ladies. I love and appreciate you and your encouragement! Must read "The Last American Man". It sounds wonderful!


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