Yesterday winds clocked over 70 miles an hour in my area, and so I looked up the Dust Bowl of the 1930s to understand how wind affects fields. It turns out that farmers lost 5 inches of top soil over most of the arable farmland in America during those terrible dry times. It takes 1,000 years to build one inch of top soil naturally. We know so much about soil composition now because of the hard times of the past, and so of course, we've built up the top soil once again in record time. There are farms. There are growing things.
Sometimes I feel like my adult life has been like a dust bowl. It blew away a lot of the natural goodness and now I am spending a lot of time painstakingly rebuilding the top soil of my life. It opens me up to criticism from some work-a-day people that I'm not doing enough. That hurts my heart because I generally put in a full 18 hours a day of constant work. I rarely sit with my family to play a game. I haven't had a vacation in five years. The pressure to produce is quite something to deal with when I know that I am still unprepared, and so I work to ready the soil by daily work.
Some of my work is housework. Some of my work is taking care of sick kids. Some of my work is cooking dinner for my exhausted husband. Some of my work is volunteering for the schools because I can't give them money right now. All of that work does double duty as a practice of consciousness, and I am in constant gratitude for the moments when I am fully occupied with tasks to be done. But, a hell of a lot of my work is dealing with waste inside my brain and turning it into fertilizer and compost for the top soil of my writing field.
Those empty moments when I deal with nothing but the memories of disappointment, and turning them into the gifts they are, by conscious shifts in perspective is the harder work. As a writer, I do this because my goal is to write about the process of life. It sometimes looks like I'm just walking the dog, or just putting quotes up on Facebook, but I assure you at the end of the day I've contemplated my work and know that only I can judge it as worthy or not. The work is not paid work, but it is work nevertheless. It causes great discomfort for many people close to me to watch me do this without any tangible results. I know that to write what I truly want to write, I must write daily, and for long periods of time, but right now I don't have the top soil for that, and so I'm amending the soil every day with exercises like this blog, like planting little annual flowers of poetry to keep my connection to my intuitive writer's mind, and I pray that my grand idea (and actually I do have one) will finally find a place to be planted that can support its growth. I am learning everyday to trust my process and see that I am supported to do this work, and I am grateful.
Hope had become
A thin and brittle branch
Upon which she perched her life.
Without talons, gripping
That view of the world,
She looked unsteady, unsure, and felt it.
Still she insisted on clutching,
Half out of the fear of having to return
The weight of her life to
A trunk she could no longer perceive,
And half out of the pride
That she’d managed so far.
Inevitably, the branch would break
Because wisdom was not in that roost.
Time does not run backwards, and this is
The thing about tree-climbing:
Inching back feels more dangerous
So hope became a fantasy.
Clinging to the unwise choice, she
Refusing to recognize the conditions
She found herself in, kept that false
Security something like a nest,
But left her immobile,
And quickly becoming petrified,
Like ancient rock buried in living tissue.
The slightest disagreement in the balance
Of her needs and desires
Splintered hope further and no duct tape
Encouraged new growth on that branch.
Until she could desire
No more than she needed
And even that was too much
Until there was nothing to do but breathe
Into the SNAP that would,
Finally, plunge her to the ground.
The fall seemed long.
The wind rushed against her.
She wished for wings, for the branch
That had once held her so erratically.
Other branches grabbed at her
Tempting her with promises, but
She kept on falling until the falling
Seemed like all there was to life.
Giddiness took over, laughter spilled
Out of the thrill and she wondered
At how high she’d gone on
And if she’d ever have a vision again.
Rock bottom seemed more
Vague than she’d expected.
In fact, she was never sure if
She’d actually hit it, but rather
Had been caught by the twisted roots
Of her vast tree,
Like a net for a trapeze artist,
A welcome surprise.
Oddly, she lay prone, looking up at the
Peculiar path of her fall and wondered at
The Light that now shone through the
Thick of leaves and sticks.
Feeling the gnarled firmness beneath her, stung,
No longer numb to her situation.
Her lungs lurched towards oxygen.
Wet with sap and tears,
Did not smile for once, and
For the first time in a long while,
Allowed instead the truth
Of her concern to reveal itself,
As she reached for the bits and pieces
She thought were important.
And, she found her illusory collection
Had been reduced to
Only what she loved,
And her mind.