Pimp My Lent/Day 33
From Zoe Ann Stinchcomb…
Jacqueline du Pre’ performing the Elgar cello concerto 1st movement
So, here we are. Day 33. I can’t hear/see “33” without remembering this song lyric:
“When I started this song I was still thirty-three/ The age that Mozart died and sweet Jesus was set free/Keats and Shelley too soon finished, Charley Parker would be/And I fantasized some tragedy’d be soon curtailing me”
(“There Was Only Once Choice,” Harry Chapin)
Time for a Gut Check.
When I launched this project 33 days ago, I did not fantasize that “some tragedy’d be soon curtailing me.”
I started it because I was tired of myself, sick to death of dealing with anxiety (lifelong) and depression (welcome to middle-age). I was stuck in the muck, wrung-out from a very stressful year, and gone creatively bone-dry. Mired between the compulsion to isolate and desperately seeking connection, I was spending too much time online (hello Facebook, how’s it going?)
My husband was a throat cancer patient who went through the nine circles of Hell in 2010, and I was his closest traveling companion. Our lives were so changed, we were so changed. Then treatment was done, and we were plunked back down into our lives. We adopted the term “The New Normal,” and both of us began asking, exploring that concept — what was important, what was necessary?
What kind of Lenten discipline might get me out of the doldrums and into the flow? I over-thought it. I do that. I want that perfect spiritual experience. I want to “get it right.” What discipline could I take on to open myself up to being in The Flow, what time-suck (hello Facebook, how’s it going?) could I lay aside in the pursuit of regaining my creative self?
AND WHAT IF I BELLY-FLOPPED?
The answer came swiftly and emphatically, in a clear and purely intuitive thought: “No matter what happens, as long as I am writing, being creative, I can withstand it.”
Then the groundwork of this project began to arrange itself very neatly in my disorganized, disordered, over-thinking mind. Could I make a daily commitment to myself, and to 47 other people, to write every day — AND publish it, no matter what, laying aside perfectionism and pride?
And I signed myself up for an acting class, too. My anxiety-motor, that “monkey mind” — so ridiculous, vast and complicated — revved up.
As Ash Wednesday approached and I was faced with actually doing what I’d said that I’d do, and had all my “pimps” in a row… . I was way out of my comfort zone. (Although, really, that zone’s never been all that comfortable.)
The first day of class —
The first time I clicked “publish” and launched this project —
Then the second day –
Then the second class –
Trepidation! Joy! Trepidation! Joy! Trepidation!
(lather, rinse, repeat)
It was haven, then heaven, and then home. The prodigal daughter finally made her way back.
Or, as the poet Rumi puts it:
Before these possessions you love slip away,
say what Mary said when she was
surprised by Gabriel, I’ll hide inside God.
Naked in her room she saw a form
of beauty that could give her new life.
Like the sun coming up, or a rose as it opens.
She leaped, as her habit was, out of herself
into the divine presence.
There was fire in the channel of her breath.
Light and majesty came, I am smoke
from that fire and proof of its existence,
more than any external form.
(photo by Tracy Hicks)
THE FEELINGS, the awareness of being close to the fire, the “light and majesty” of living in The Flow, the Creator spirit. For the first time in a long time, I felt like a WHOLE person and as things in me began to shift, things around me began to shift. It really was heaven.
And then the throat cancer came back. My husband, his doctors – we all thought he was done with it and that it was done with him. Turns out it wasn’t. Treatment starts very soon. It’s a bitch, this treatment, something no one should ever have to endure. Especially not more than once. We are afraid. We are back to living a postage-stamp existance – very small life in a very small space, sometimes minutes at a time.
We don’t know what’s in store for us. (Actually, neither do you. If you’re very lucky, you don’t get what I’m saying. I hope you don’t.)
Will I finish Pimping My Lent? Can I keep this going until Easter?
And then what?
And then I look again at the video of Jacqueline du Pre’, so gifted, so much in The Flow it’s like she and God are drafting behind Jesus walking on the water. du Pre’ died young, a bright and fierce star that burned hot and was gone too soon.
But while she was here, she played every note like it mattered.
“No matter what happens, as long as I am writing, being creative, I can withstand it.”
I hope so. I hope so. I hope so.