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Friday, January 15, 2010

The Things We Are Supposed to See

I may have mentioned that I am ophthalmologically challenged. Nah, it’s not a word, but I was going for something more original than “blind as a bat.” The only place I step without my glasses is from the bed to the shower in the morning, and as soon as I’ve toweled off, those babies are on my face to stay. I was a dedicated contact lens girl for about thirty years, until middle-aged eyes decided to dry up and reject those cellophane wrappers. So it appears I am four-eyes for life, since I’ve checked out laser surgery and as it stands today, it’s not an option for me.

Why does of this matter to you? Because yesterday—at the recommendation of Paula, (please check out her blog and beautiful paintings) I started The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron, billed as a course in “discovering and recovering your creative self” —getting as far as the “Basic Tools” chapter—which explains the course requirement for “Morning Pages.”

I’m sure so many of you know all about this, but I ask your indulgence, because it’s new for me. Basically, Julia says that first thing in the morning, every morning, throughout the life of the course but hopefully for longer, you need to write three pages, long-hand, stream of consciousness, on anything that comes to mind, “a brain drain” Julie calls it, “the primary tool of creative recovery.” I interpret Morning Pages as a way to clear the, um, clutter, out of your brain to leave it clean and fresh and receptive to creativity.

“Oh right,” I thought, upon reading about them yesterday. “Like I’m going to fit that in. Hmmm. Does she mean as soon as I get up? No way. Well, maybe I could do it after school drop-off, before I sit down to the computer. Still though, it seems rather—demanding don’t you think? Every day? First thing? That’s going to mean getting up earlier. Seriously—every day? Oh well, maybe I’ll buy a notebook over the weekend and give it a try— I suppose that can’t hurt, too much, right?” And so it went.

Until, this morning, when I received the gift of an extra sleep-in, because my daughter has no school. After my husband kissed me goodbye, I rolled over, and glancing at my bedside table, caught sight (albeit, a blurry one) of a blue toile cloth-bound journal, a gift to me, which has perched untouched, around which we’ve dusted, since August. “Hmmm” again. “Morning pages? Nice book. It’s kind of small, might be cheating. Could always write more then three pages to even it out. Maybe, just for this morning I'll see how it feels—”

So, with no glasses, in the gray, predawn light, with my eyes about two inches from the book, I began to write—letting it all out, not caring about punctuation or spelling, still in bed, leaning on my elbow, my hand cramping, but scribbling anyway.

Engrossed and focused, I poured out words until I had occasion to look up--

and scream “Oh sh_t!” at huge black shape standing in front of the picture window of our first floor bedroom, no more than twelve feet from me. “What the heck is that?” I panted, while scrabbling at my bureau for my glasses, all the while trying to untangle myself from the sheets so I could run. Really, it could have been a man, it could have been a bear, I just couldn’t tell.

Sorry for the interruption Julia, I know we are probably not supposed to stop, but once the glasses were on, I saw two deer, lifting and placing thin legs through the backyard path beside the window; and as if she knew I could see her now, one turned her head and stared at me, soft eyed and still, drinking me in, a five second gaze that said, “Good Morning Liza. This is what you were meant to see.” And then, turning away, the two does stepped up the hill, followed by their hiccupping trail, folding themselves through the tight-leafed rhododendrons lining our yard. I watched one small tail flipping as they disappeared.

The Artists Way is a twelve week course. My two week borrow from the library won’t cut it. Hello Amazon? I need to buy a book.


Robyn Campbell said...

This is a lovely thing to do. Just write. I use to do this before life got in the way. I think I will try it again.

And the deer. Guess what I saw while driving home. A man in his front yard feeding a deer out of his hand. It was one amazing thing to see. :-) I hope your weekend is wonderful. I'm unplugging next week, I'll see you after that. :-)

glnroz said...

it's good to hear an interesting tale this morning, that is from one "four eyes" person to another,, lol

Elana Johnson said...

Another friend of mine told me about this book. I really need to get it. And like you, I'm a girl who needs to see. I don't even make it to the shower before my glasses are on.

Helen Ginger said...

I realize you were scared, but that was so funny. As a fellow four-eyes, I totally identify.

Straight From Hel

Anonymous said...

My wife has a copy of The Artist's Way. I should read it. Thanks for the reminder!

Carolina M. Valdez Schneider said...

That is serious dedication to the craft! Wow! I don't know if I could do it...but I love that you're giving it a shot. I'll have to follow your progress and see how it goes.

As for opthomologically challenged...hahahaha! That's a new one to me. Good stuff. I love creative terminology.

And really, what a beautiful way to wake up--to see deer on your lawn. Well, after you got over the scare. Ha! I wear glasses/contacts as well, and have had many a scare when I can't figure out what it is staring me in the face (my toddler loves to wake me up by pressing her nose to my nose in the morning!).

Paula Villanova said...

Hey Liza, glad you've started with the Morning Pages..and I say this realizing I need to start them again...amazing the part they play in getting the creative process flowing. I have several journals and I enjoy going back to them from time to time...now, I think I will dust mine off and begin again tomorrow morning! Thanks for the mention!

rae said...

This cracked me up. I am also blind and often reject glasses as well because of all the unnecessary adrenaline.

Stephanie McGee said...

I have that book. I've not attempted anything more than the morning pages. I've been doing those consistently for the last several months. I'm on my 5th notebook of them. Perhaps I ought to go through the whole book week by week. But with school having started, I really don't have the time. You'll have to let us know how it goes.

Liza said...

Glen, Elena, Helen, Carolina, and Rae, hmmm, five out of nine are ophthamologically
challeged like me! Are we blind because we always have our noses in books or are glued to the computer?
Robyn, thanks for visiting, enjoy your week off...not sure I'd have the courage to feed the deer, but it would be pretty to see.
Simon, hooray if you have a go at it "good sir," but I seriously don't know how you will fit another thing into your day!
Stephanie, we'll see how it goes. I love the idea of morning pages, though I'm struggling with the "first thing in the morning" requirement. I get up early enough as it is.
Paula, thanks so much for the recommendation.
I know it's going to be helpful, no matter how far I get--in two days, it already has been. It was great seeing you (and your paintings) last week.

J.B. Chicoine said...

Writing up a storm first thing in the morning sounds good--in theory...

This past week we counted a herd of 52 deer in the cornfields around our house--charming in the winter, aggravating in the spring when they eat all the buds before they bloom...