Friday, October 18, 2013

my life and its secret colours

"When I look at my life and its secret colours, I feel like bursting into tears."

- Albert Camus

"the heart breaks and breaks
and lives by breaking
it is necessary to go through
dark and deeper dark
and not to turn"

- Stanley Kunitz,  from "The Testing Tree"

The colours are slowly being drained from the world, readying us for the secret colours of winter. Many of the leaves have fallen, many still cling. And some display their delicate tracery.

The mornings are cold now and when I come in after a walk it takes me half an hour to warm up, though I'm dressed very well for the weather.

Life is not perfect. I'm still wandering around saying that in my head, as some sort of strange consolation. This past week we've been lucky - the annoyances and disappointments of the creative life have been balanced by its pleasures and by its privileges. When things balance out in this way, which honestly, is rare enough to be counted a blessing of the first degree, it's very easy not to feel envy for those accolades, awards, grants, publication news, sales, etc etc that others receive. When things balance out it's easier not to feel utterly deflated by the usual rejections that are part and parcel of the literary life.

We are not rich, but we certainly are not poor. We are able to do our work. And we work hard. Rob, especially. He makes the coffee and is down in his studio very shortly after 6 am. The piece he's working on right now is nearly done, and may even be finished today. He's worked on it for 3 solid weeks. I haven't been to his studio in our basement all this time, so I'm looking forward to seeing it later today. And that will be a moment of pure joy.

As for me, I'll have time to walk the dog today. I'll have time to work on some writing projects. I'm going to take my camera out to the forest and commune with some leaves. Which I think must seem very strange to some people. A 47 year old woman wandering about the town with her dog, and finding herself drawn to these scraggly, leftover forests, these haphazard stands of trees. Standing and taking photos of a single leaf over and over. This is not unlike the time I spent as a child wandering through real forests, with our black poodle. Time collapses at certain moments.

And so we count our blessings. knowing that the ups and downs will not always balance out. But in spite of that, there's the work. Which sustains, which in and of itself, gives hope, is hopeful. And always, there is this beauty in the world, little secret pockets of it, that I'm allowed, that I'm obligated, to seek out. However childish. And anyhow, as Amichai once said:  "And whoever remembers his childhood best / is the winner, / if there are any winners." Which is an idea I explored in my book, Red Velvet Forest. And I suppose, go on exploring.

I don't know if you can see the apples 'hidden' in the tree, but I thought this was rather clever.

The fall light is so mysterious to me. And heartbreaking. Is it this way for you, too?


  1. Dear Shawna, I just found you from Robyn's blog, Art Propelled, and had to use this theme on my newest blog post too. I added a link to your blog. Thank you so much for sharing so much beauty.

  2. I meant the theme of being still!

  3. Dear Shawna. You are like a new colour, that I experience from your calm things. What I mean by that is that you remind me of so much I have lost and when I read you so much that I find again. I am so glad I found your blog and that you write it. Thank you.


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