infected

Where do artists find their bravery? Creative self-expression is incredibly risky business. It involves taking a chunk of your soul and doing the best that you can to put some tangible form to it.

And this world tells us to stuff our souls down and pretend they don’t exist. Souls are an intangible part of us that are not easily explained and therefore make us all a bit uneasy.

But our souls were created to live and thrive and express themselves. I find I am much better off when I live connected to myself, to my soul, and have some way of communicating that. To others, perhaps. But mostly to myself.

And art helps me connect with my soul and remember it is there and it is a part of me, no matter how uncomfortable that may be at times.

I have observed an infectiousness to art. People I don’t know, perhaps hundreds of years ago, perhaps ten minutes ago, wept and laughed and searched and journeyed in an effort to discover their soul.

And after the painfully wonderful process of finding this treasure, they found a very brave piece of themselves and used that to help them express that soul.

Then I or someone else sees it or hears it or reads it.

And somehow, some way, through the mystery of it all, the observer who is open to wonder and beauty and things that don’t make sense (hopefully me!) is touched. And amazingly, this person finds a piece of himself or herself through experiencing the art of another.

So art is a way we find ourselves and find one another.

But there is always a risk. Because not every individual is touched by art. Art is often misunderstood. Misconstrued. Misinterpreted. And so the artist is as well.

Art requires a commitment to bravery all the way through the process, from being willing to discover one’s soul to letting go and seeing where that soul takes us all the while letting go of what others might think of any end result. Including ourselves.

What art has moved you recently?

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calling

I can hear him calling me from the other room. There are other things crying out to me as well like the laundry and the dusting and the chocolate cookies in the fridge. But today I seem to know that Harley’s call is the one I need to answer.

I open up his silver frame and feel the gratitude all over again. Harley was a gift to me. He used to belong to my friend’s twin sister. And then a few weeks after I confessed to my sweet friend that I want to write a book, she told me she had something for me.

We walked out to her car. I imagined the fun scarf or accessory she – the hip young single girl – was handing down to her fashion-challenged mom-friend with no time to shop. I knew it would be something with a flair that I would love.

Never in a million years would I have guessed that she would hand me a laptop. She made all sorts of qualifiers about how it was so old and she didn’t know what programs were on it and on and on. I stood there with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.

When I got it home, I discovered my friend’s twin had named her laptop and he seemed a beloved old friend of hers. I carried on the tradition and welcomed Harley into our family. Even my four year old will call him by name when he asks me, “What is Harley showing you, Mom?”

So now Harley is my beloved friend. And today he called to me as only he can. Tugging on my heart, I could hear him a mile away. He knows I have much stirring inside me and he can help me in a releasing and peace-making sort of way.

Harley was a gift of faith, a tangible “I believe in you” from my friend. But he has been so much more. He has been my safe place.

To create.

To let go.

To try.

Not just for the sake of a product but for the sake of me.

Because as a writer I have found that writing has become a part of me and a part of my life. Not just to produce for a blog post or to plunk away at a book that seems such an elusive endeavor at times.

Harley shows me that writing is where I find myself, where I work things out, where I let things go. And I know that because I can hear his call from way across the house, as though he were whispering from right inside my heart.  

Who is calling you today?

mr. black

He gives a gift to everyone who walks in the door. I am always a little groggy when I walk in. I have just dropped my oldest off to his early morning Saturday karate class. I walk down to Starbucks, and the moment alone combines with the fresh air and breathes life into me.

His shaggy hair matches his scruffy looking beard with their curls and hues of strawberry blonde. Everyone gets a smile and a cheerful voice, but nothing over-zealous. It is early on Saturday, after all and this is a gentle man. Intentional eye contact is made with each and every person. I watch as something invisible inside his soul seems to whisper to each of us, “You matter.”

I get the feeling he is doing more than just his job as he takes our orders and debit cards and gives us food and drink in return. He is caring for humanity. He sees the inherent value of people and shows it to us in the fifty-eight seconds we are in front of him. This is the gift he gives.

And it is one that we all are in desperate need of. Because it is so incredibly easy to forget that we matter. That although we are imperfect, we are also invaluable. Of course, not everyone receives this gift. Some are so busy with their lives and their selves and their keeping up that their spirits have grown numb to such offerings.

But he gives it anyway.

Today he was just taking his break when I found my place in line. We exchanged hellos and somehow some coffee spilled from the mug he was holding while we were chatting. I walked over to the condiment section, pulled out some napkins, knelt down and wiped up the liquid.

I should be doing that for you,” he said.

“You are on your break. I am happy to do something for you this time,” I reply.

He goes to the back for something and then disappears outside for his ten minutes to himself. As I order and get out my card to pay, the other barista tells me Mr. Black has already taken care of it.

I couldn’t find him outside to say thank you and he didn’t have to do that. Watching him do what he does touches my heart every Saturday. I see the gift he offers and gladly receive it each time. Maybe buying me coffee was his way of saying that today I got to be his Mr. Black.