When people ask for your help, and tell you it means something to them, that’s one thing. But sometimes you come to these moments where you feel like you’re trying too hard to be big and loud and seen, and you just want to quieten (yes, quieten) and be away for a while.
To make a fort and read your books in it, and leave the world outside it. I get this way, every winter.
Sheltered from the cold, snuggled on the couch in bulky cotton socks and a fleece, with an angry ball of black fur who won’t look at me (she’s mad because I haven’t kept the home warm enough), I read a blog post by Nirrimi Firebrace. It is hard to describe the magic her words and images create. She puts me in touch with the 8-year-old girl I once was (still am) and a pile of unfulfilled dreams I hadn’t known were there, just outside consciousness.
She makes these images of being bare-footed on beaches, playing in the water and sand; making a small fire in the jungle she calls her backyard; the people she loves, sleeping without care, loose-limbed in an inviting bed, and they cry to me to bring more beauty to my life. I wish to develop a gift for storytelling with images, they strike so powerfully. I doubt my ability to do so, uncertain of the tenuous connection to that feeling. I don’t know how she keeps it.
Those images are infused with innocence, and with love. Nirrimi seems to stay in touch with a childlike grace without effort. She seems to love like she’s a fairy tale princess and each lover is the prince she dreamt of. I want to know what she knows. I want to see how to love the way she does. She puts it together with creating and, in her hands, it looks so easy.
Can love go together with creating? Or must they remain separate? I have long thought one, while Nirrimi does the other. I have thought the time and energy impossible to spend on both. She makes me wonder.
Seeing the beauty of her life on a blog, it’s impossible not to ask about its authenticity.
How can I not? Someone with this life, where what she seems to do, always, is travel and make beauty. Isn’t this the life so many of us want, to travel and make beauty? And she seems to have it with so little effort, without the grind that others struggle their way through.
And then she has love, too. An adorable curious daughter, and her prince. Something so many can’t find or can’t manage, alongside trying for that life of travel and beauty.
I think how young she is yet. That’s the cynic. Oh, you’ll see… but that’s not the real me. The real me believes. The real me always claps when Tinkerbell is dying. Always.
The thing that makes me love and follow Nirrimi most of all is that radical openness. She shares her joy and her pain with equal beauty and never seems to lose touch.
How do I stay with that radical openness and leave the cynic behind? How do I tap into that flavor when I sit down to write, each time, again and again, without shutting it up under a protective exterior?
It’s the start of a new year, and I don’t know where I’m going.
I have a job I love that some days seems to matter so, so much, and then other days not at all.
I’m working on a book, consistently, but it’s failing to move me. I could do it, or I could not do it, and I’m not sure there’s enough of a difference.
My ex, my close, close friend, has broken up with me again, even though we aren’t and weren’t together anyway. I can’t continue on with him, but I don’t know how to start over, either – or if I want to. Right now I seem to be filling up all the space in my heart by myself.
I’ve been drenching my home in firelight these last few weeks, lighting scores of tealights in the bathroom when I shower, in the living room as I clean, in the kitchen as I do dishes. They give a sense of romance to the usual, make the must-be-done into fun. I light them when I write to ground me, to slow my breathing, to get back in touch with that feeling, the one Nirrimi’s work gives me.
When I write, it is too easy to get lost.
Even as I write this I count the words. Trying to push myself to make something, to make it bigger, to count it so it will count. To meet a certain goal so I can say I’ve done what I needed to do today. But beauty doesn’t count words. Nirrimi’s post is not about counting words.
I write down thoughts that seem random, disconnected, and try to make them into something, and think, what is the point? Thinking and feeling that there must be some grand one, very meaningful, a lesson to learn. And I look at Nirrimi’s post, her images and her words, and I think, there is no point there, not in that way I’m thinking.
It’s only a moment to share, to feel, to see things in a certain light. And when she shows them to me, I see them in that light as well, and it’s a great reminder to me of a feeling I am apt to lose sight of – a feeling of being a curious child, making art because it’s fun, because you see something this way and you want to record it, just so. This is my WHY for making in the first place, and sometimes I fear my art doesn’t reflect it quite right. Nirrimi’s does.
And there is the point. There is what makes it possible to believe that Nirrimi’s words and images are the truth, that such a life can exist; to go back to playing with words instead of working so hard at them, to know that I can make beauty for others as Nirrimi does for me. That I can make beauty for myself as Nirrimi does for me, and that that’s the only way I’ll make it for anyone else. That I can stay in touch with that childlike grace and that radical openness, too, if I just remember to reach for it.
That is the point.