Improvise Your Life

Photo I found while researching hula hoops for a painting…

I took the bus because my bike got another flat tire yesterday.  I enjoyed crushing and inhaling the scent of lavender and rosemary on my finger tips, and the sunset-hued roses smelling of apricots.

One of my favorite questions thus far from a young man on a bicycle: Are you knitting a hose warmer?

I. and her boyfriend C. drove off to get sausages and beer.  She was wearing a yellow sundress while C. called out, “How’s our favorite knitter?”  Yesterday, they sat with me on the bench with Betty Ninja the dog, eating yellow and red cherries and spitting the pits on the road.  The support from the community continues to amaze me.  The Urban Hiker stopped and chatted on his daily 10 mile hike across town.

I looked across the street at my knit line, rolled up on the hose reel, and suddenly it struck me as a metaphor for my life.  Now that I’m no longer unrolling the line down the sidewalk, I have no idea how far I still have to go before the knit line reaches the water.  Ever since I let go of my dream of being employed as a full-time artist, I no longer know if I’m making progress or even what progress would look like for me.  I’ve renounced measurable achievements at the moment for something much more intangible like how honest a painting feels, or whether I’m taking risks with my materials.  I’ve traded external landmarks like sales or art shows for a focus on the inherent rightness of making art, and the inherent goodness of my life as it unfolds moment to moment.  It’s like waking up to a blank canvas every day, and improvising a life.  I remind myself daily how lucky I am to be able to do this–to work 2 days a week at a job, so I can spend the rest of the time at my vocation.

Sometimes I have hope, but it’s not a definable, quantifiable hope in a specific outcome.  If I achieve X, I will be happy because I’ve met my goal.  How lost I feel now compared to my purposeful, busy self of the past months.  I didn’t realize how much of my identity was derived from this story I was telling myself about my future.  But conversely, taking my ripening seriously has meant finding myself again, accompanied by a certain angst that I lost my way under the guise of productivity and achievement.

Somehow, I hope that even my struggles, especially my struggles, can bring encouragement to others to keep on doing those infinitely important and “unnecessary” things like writing poetry and gardening and visiting old people and meditating, and all the other things that make me glad to be human.

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