Friday, June 3, 2011

my worm - or The Friday Challenge

Note: For those with barnheart - check out the new chick pics on my blog Living the Complicated Simple Life.


The Friday Challenge
Alex Cavanaugh commented on my last post that chicks might not be too bright. He may be right about that - I've had lots of conversations about the intelligence or lack thereof of chickens but I'm not going to enter that debate right now. What I was offering (or attempting to) was a parable on the dilemma of desire. That, because we are unable to have our cake and eat it too, we become frantic in the attempt. We want things, or accomplishments, or love, or connectivity, so badly that when we have it we become immediately terrified of its loss. We fail to enjoy the moment in the realization of its immanence.

Loss has been a theme, both major and minor, over this spring for me. I feel beseeched by loss on every side. Loss of my last parent, loss of my dad in particular, loss of a hope I had for a piece of work, loss of some connections through various family issues and so on. Some years are just like that, and I remind myself that the illusion of having these things led to the feelings of loss and not the other way around.

Last night I went to a show at the high school that our student from Germany, Felix, was in. My step-kids and Felix go to a wonderful high-school. The music teacher there was a source of so much inspiration and delight for most who encountered her. My step-dot and Felix were in the band, in choirs, in the yearly musical and went on the magical trip to New York City. There have been coffee houses of the most elevated sort with fantastical displays of talent. Unfortunately, the teacher made some bad choices and had to leave her post. This was devastating to her students and although they understood to some degree what had happened, the administration handled it very badly. Nothing was properly explained and there was no provision for the very real grieving the kids needed to do. So they handled it. The musical was cancelled but the musical happened. The kids did it themselves. They organized three months of rehearsals and props, and lights and sound. They stage-managed, directed,  and finagled there way to a production that was a resounding success. And they did it all for ONE NIGHT. Yes, the performance was only the one night. It was a fabulous hour (short but great play Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog ) and then it was done.

I love that about plays. I do. I always loved tear-down, after the last performance. Like the sweeping up of the sand from the carefully constructed sand-mandala of the Tibetan masters', the very ephemeral quality of it makes you pay attention in a different way than we've become used to.

We want to keep everything - we photograph ourselves in front of the Eiffel Tower and have videos made of our weddings, our children's christenings, summer camp, graduations, even our funerals. The trouble with this desire to contain the moment is many-fold: we don't really have the cake and eat it too because we aren't present in either moment, there is no permanence and even those most desirous of it know that, and most vividly we are causing ourselves suffering with our clinging.

Last night, everyone sighed just the tiniest bit because we couldn't have the experience again and yet - and yet there was a great collective feeling of appreciation for that very same thing. Only once - get it right - get it right enough. And isn't that how stories used to be told? The storyteller, a rambler, a vagrant usually, would come to our village's fire and tell us stories for our warmth, our company and our evening meal. The longer they could spin out those stories, the longer they could rest before the next leg of their journey. Or the caravan would approach with the Players and the fun would be on. And people would feast on the memory for the rest of the long year before the Players were back with even more stories clinging to the familiar frame-work of the tales they spun.

Your Friday Challenge, dear writers, dear readers, is to create something in the next week that will not exist beyond the moment you offer it to others. A poem that once read is consumed by the flame of a match. A song that is sung once and then the melody forgotten, a meal that you give all heart and soul to and then forget the recipe for. You will think, if you're like me, that you can't throw away that perfect lovely piece of prose - you just can't - but you can.  Go on, I dare you!

11 comments:

welcome to my world of poetry said...

A good read Jan, I have never thought one way or the other about a chicks intelligence but I suppose they must be credited for some, Sorry I haven't been in touch but am in the US travelling around and Internet access is limited.

Yvonne.

Hart Johnson said...

Oh, Jan-this is such a poignant idea... that we aren't truly present in either moment when we try too hard to capture it for later. I will certainly give this a try. I can already feel my resistence... is that bad?

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I always take a ton of photos wherever we go, and my husband is always telling me to drop the camera a moment and actually see the moment. Guess he's right.

Eve said...

I've often felt that, that I am not living in the present, but the future, because I'm concentrating too hard on 'saving this for posterity'...although I think it is possible to enjoy the moment fully, and take pictures etc..
as for forgetting recipes, poems, songs etc...I do that all the time unintentionally! I swear sometimes I barely remember my own name..fortunatley I have it written down in several places so I'll know what to say when I introduce myself at the F.A.(Forgetters Anonymous) meetings. If only I could remember where they meet! If I figure it out I'll get that recipe for you...
great post!

RosieC said...

Jan, I love your challenges. This is a fantastic idea. I love getting caught up in the moment of the story. When I was younger, I babysat for the boys next door, and they would want a story before they went to bed. I would stand in their doorway, pretending like I was ready to shut off the light, and spin a yarn that would last over an hour of spaceships and superheros and monsters. It happened several times, and I had recently thought, gee, I wish I'd had a tape recorder. Wouldn't it be great to revisit those? But in doing so, it would detract from the moment, the joy of those really-not-sleepy boys' faces as they helped continue the plot. Sometimes the moment is just about the moment. I'll try to find a way to remember that this week.

Thank you! :)

Talli Roland said...

Wow, a big kudos to the kids for doing it all themselves! That's fantastic and shows just how inspiring this teacher was, despite her bad choices.

Richard said...

WRITING CONTEST.....My blog Amish Stories is having its first ever contest this week. The First prize winner will win 2 tickets to tour the farm where the 1985 move "Witness" staring Harrison Ford and Kelly Mcgillis was made in Strasburg,Pa . This farm is now Amish owned, and the family has given permission for folks to tour their farm. This may be the last time anyone will be able to walk and see the same things that Harrison Ford and the other actors saw during the making of "Witness". The Witness tour should last about 2.5 hours. In addition to the Witness farm tour tickets, 1st prize winner will also receive 2 tickets for Jacobs choice. There will also be a 2nd place prize, which will be 2 tickets for the Amish Homestead. Please go to My blog www.AmishStorys.com for contest details, and more information on the prizes. Richard from the Amish settlement of Lebanon county.

Stephen Tremp said...

Although I enjoy a clutter free house, I cannot through anything away that I write. I have a Junkyard I keep everything in that I do not use. Hey, I might meed it some day. So let it rust away because this is good junk.

Clarissa Draper said...

I missed Alex's post on Chicks but I'm so sorry for all the loss you've suffered this year. I hope you find peace.

I love your Friday challenge.

Jemi Fraser said...

Now that's a terrifying challenge!! I like to hang on and keep things - but you're right. Hanging on can sometimes diminish the joy and the 'being' of a thing. I'm going to give this a shot!

L'Aussie said...

Hi Jan. Sorry to hear of your time of loss. I love your last paragraph. 'A poem that once read is consumed by the flame of a match...'