Creativity, Growing Up

Cut a Rug

The moment on the living room floor. Scratched record, skipping back again. Recollection as perseveration. The sweet cling of liquor breath. Neck. Night. The dim light, a carpet brown or beige or bare depending. Each time the thousandth time.

A cue I did not catch the first time around.


I stand and walk from that place.

Over and over.

In lucid dreams, you cut.

Chop off the climax. Slice open an exit. Saw a hole through rooftop, treetop, pillowtop, sky. You reach up with your hands and trace the shape of yourself wherever they land. You open a manhole from the bottom up.

Out you go.

And this is where things get interesting.

Because that place where you step? Where you land up there? That has not been designed yet. The production crew hasn’t made it to the second story.


You are writer, designer, main character, and director. You decide, crack boom, with a flick of your chin, the next act. To spin up through the rings of Saturn, to brush your belly over a tropical canopy, to alight on a garden pillar in Babylon. You can tumble-stomp your way up the marble stairs and swan-dive into a dragon’s lair. This is your place. Your riches. Your loving arms.

Your script.

One tilt of the glass. One stroke. One cut.

It took me 30 years to trip into it. Another 10 to realize I could use it for more than grasping at innocence.

You know.

The hush of the cradle before the first time your father failed to come home, your mother told you too much, your friend laughed and left you stuck in the gears of your bike, you laughed and left your friend crying for help. Before you knew how sharp the teeth of the moon. Before you knew that your name did not fill the sails or patch the leaks.

When you were held. When only falling and fire showed the dropped stitches in your untested faith.

That is the place I learned to revisit. The place before the living room floor.

Do you know this before?

When you finally find the capacity to color your own imagined set, this is what you do. You lean back. Back into a grownup simulacrum of infant security. Wealth and luxury. Feet up, rolling open, feathered cloud. Because the mind longs for rest. The body aches for comfort.

At last, to stop having to consider the threats? Someone else will assess the dangers. There are no predators. No failures. No lives at stake.

It feels like peace. The truest gift you can give yourself. Pure, full, trusting quiet. Not sleep. No. Rest. Within your skin, your here-and-now, your wakefulness. That wakefulness no longer vigilance. Whether the place is one of being embraced by complete and utter adoration, or one of total silent solitude, in any event, the desire is deep-down the same.

And maybe, like me, you stop there.

The outer limit of imagination is a few thousand iterations of rest?

Still. And always. The power courses down beneath. Untapped. Barely even poking one toe up through the soil (or down through the roof, as it happens) and roots that trail down from above may look like spiderwebs, veins, the simple ductwork of oxygen, the delineation of your quarters. Of your chosen universe. But they are only the finest tendriled extremities of something so much larger growing outside your line of sight.

This is what happens:

When you decide rest is not an objective or a measure of wealth, and you decide at last, Oh, I choreograph the dance unfolding now. I choose the color of everything around me, the everything of everything around me, then you really begin.

When you have the guts to admit that there is more than returning to before,
more than getting up again and again from the place where the world forced itself on you and broke open the egg in which you could never have stayed anyway

and with intention alone
squeeze onto the wall ceiling floor you face
the ambergris and ochre and butter and blood
then hone your blade with floss and schist
and begin to score the scene

of what is here

and how you might proceed.


Art, Children, Friends

Love before Love

Valentine's Soup

Friendship marks a life even more deeply than love. Love risks degenerating into obsession, friendship is never anything but sharing.

– Elie Wiesel

Bug creeps out of his bed and tiptoes into my room. “Mommy, I made twenty-eight bowls!” His eyes are far too bright for this ungodly hour. For the third time, I walk him back to his room and perch next to him on the bed. He has been drawing a Valentine’s Day picture. The pink and red markers are running to chalky streaks.

“You know it’s well past time for sleep, buddy.”

“I know, but see?” He starts to color in the legs of the lone person on the page, already forgetting why he called me in. Continue reading “Love before Love”