The quest for re-inspiration or the importance of stopping the quest and filling the well
I suppose I have been on a quest of sorts. It has been a while since I have felt the connection I used to feel to the world of words. It has been a while since I have had the time, space, etc., to fill the well. I take the blame for that. I have spent a better part of the past many years wanting, wanting to be a writer, wanting not to have screwed up my undergrad experience, wanting to have a career that offers some kind of stability, wanting, wanting, wanting. I used to feel like I was treading water, biking up a steep, steep hill, whatever the overused metaphor, perhaps you get the idea. I internalized the stress of thinking I needed to be something other than what I was or what I am, and I ended up in some kind of endless cycle of doing all these things I felt I should do to meet an end that was abstract at best. Of course my creative suffered. I shoved it aside with the thinking that I could create the perfect scenario to be able to create.
Not so long ago my husband and I did something nothing short of crazy. He being the Trekkie that he is would call it blowing up the Enterprise, and I would agree that it was a blowing up the Enterprise of sorts. We quit our jobs. We sold, donated, or tossed out nearly three quarters of our stuff, sold our home in Michigan, and crammed what remained of our belongings into two U-Haul trailers that we hauled across three states to Colorado.
Here I am. I finally have space. I have some job prospects, but I am learning (not so naturally) to embrace the space and time. I am using it to write again. I started this blog as one step, and I have been engaging in some writing-related activities in my new home. Bit-by-bit I am connecting with writers in my new home state. I even took time to take a real vacation, one where I could explore and be inspired. I visited San Francisco to hand out with family and to explore the city that has such a storied literary tradition.
I came away with the understanding that what I really want is to embrace the process now rather than to push it away. Part of that is due to the trip, but part of that is also because of the time I am taking to read more than I was able to before, at least read the things I want to read. The trip, though, is where I found The Poetry Deal by Diane di Prima, a book I read cover-to-cover while on the plane ride home. Some books appear at the very time I need them and this book is one those and it did appear. Out of all the books I could have come away from City Lights Bookstore with it was the one I needed most. Her inaugural address for her term as San Francisco Poet Laureate, her subsequent poems, should be read out loud everywhere right now. Something in all the poems touched me. Maybe because she dared to do so much of what I was afraid to do. She dared to be her strong, amazing self. She dared to commit to the poems and not much else except for her children. “Memorial Day, 2003” is one poem that comes to mind with lines like “Remember it’s not a safe time & all the more reason/To do whole-heartedly what you have to do” and “remember/that all you need to remember is what you love/Remember to Marry the World.”
So, I’ve learned from di Prima and from blowing up the Enterprise that the quest is not important, the journey is. Now, I just need to keep remembering that.