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The Art of Life

May 5, 2010

I am going on a road trip with my 84-year-old father tomorrow.  We are heading to the Idaho house, but we are taking the long, less travelled route.  Dad has never been up the north-eastern side of California, nor eastern Oregon and neither have I.  We will stop by the Lichfield wild horse adoption center outside of Susanville before heading north to Alturas.  I am considering adopting a wild horse one day, but I need to learn a lot more about it first.  All week I have been thinking about what to write that will sit here for, maybe, the entire week.   I don’t know if I will have internet anywhere.   I love that.

It came to me about 5AM this morning when I was having my coffee on the couch, a blanket wrapped around my legs that were already clothed in my work pants.  I am coming to the end of Through Black Spruce, the novel by Joseph Boyden that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago.  I have taken my time with it and even though I have limited reading time right now, that isn’t why.  It is because haven’t been ready say goodbye to the world described in the book, one in which characters live with both feet planted on the earth, yet more often than not, each foot is standing in two different worlds at the same time.  Decisions in their lives are influenced by what the outside world tells them and offers up.   This morning I read the part about a young girl’s first goose hunt.  I feel changed from reading it, like something in me has found a voice, like my soul stretched across time and space to connect with the life these characters are living.  I couldn’t finish the book in a hurry even though I wanted to know what finally happens.  I don’t want to leave Will Bird and his niece Annie, so  I closed it and went on with my day.  I will savor the final pages this evening. 

I feel that I am living with each foot in a different world on number of different levels right now.  Like working the job that has brought stability to my family for 18 years and at the same time making my journey into my new career as a writer, the one that has always been there dormant like the seed in winter.  Just now, I was talking to my husband about the passage regarding the goose hunt.  I opened the book and looked at the words as we sat together on the couch.  The words looked like any other words out of context and I couldn’t simply read the passage to Tim.  It’s power was not only in the words on the paper, but in my life at that moment.   I realize how important it is to me to be able to create that in my writing and that because of Boyden’s skill, I would never have to say goodbye to the people I encountered in Ontario.

So what is it that brings me to this particular story in such an open and vulnerable way?  It could be my intense yearning to live closer to the wilderness and my fear that it may not actually happen.   Lately, more than ever, I have had a difficult time seeing my salted husband living more than 3 blocks from the beach.  We talked about it though, as honestly as possible.  The other day we watched a nature show about whale migration.  It became clear to me during the program, that although I find the sea wonderful and amazing, I am an earth person, a wilderness seeker, a mountain crazy, forest animal, rocky crag, thick tree and sage brush loving fool.  I told Tim of this and expressed my worry of his deep happiness while living in the mountains away from his beloved ocean. 

Our talk itself became a moment that took me again into the book and its message about the reality that we are what we are, and we have to listen to who we are, no matter how many things we try.  This doesn’t mean we can’t try other worlds and find parts of other worlds that feed our souls.  Tim told me that he is a water person, whether it be ocean, stream, lake, snow or ice.  He loves to snowboard in a blizzard better than on a sunny day.  The snow around him makes him feel like he is home.  We realized that once again, we make a perfect pair.  A woman who loves the ocean, yet feels at home with her feet on the ground, and a man who loves the earth, but seeks water as his basic element.  Both of us have one foot in each world, but they are weighted differently.

Again, I must circle back to Joseph Boyden’s characters and what has touched me so deeply about them.  I think it is the way he conveys the characters as individual beings who make all these choices that either bring them together with others or not.  That in reality we are walking alone, but connections to others and to our world are available if we choose to partake.  We can let the wind speak to us or ignore it, we can say hello to a stranger or turn away, and the right choice is different at different times.  The world presents not only the canvas, but the paints, the fruit and the energy.  Life doesn’t imitate art, life is the art and we are all artists by definition.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Helen permalink
    May 5, 2010 4:21 am

    That’s nice. Have a safe journey.

  2. May 10, 2010 3:41 am

    Your writing flows beautifully.. I am going to read my way through – but now after this taste I will go back to the beginning so I know you better.

  3. May 10, 2010 4:53 am

    What a wonderful comment Jean Groberg. Thank you so much.
    ~Julie

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