In a previous blog, I wrote about writing our life stories. I shared my experience at a creativity workshop where some of the participants had led an incredible life. Amazing, I think, because theirs was so vastly different from mine. Most times, when some one inquires about my life or something that I have done, I generally think that it is not a huge accomplishment, but rather just something that I’ve completed. That includes everything from graduating high school to showing horses in the Scottsdale Arabian Show to publishing novels. I wonder, does everyone feel that same? That their lives are just lived, but others’ lives contain a “wow” factor?
For a class assignment, I wrote about an incident on my trip from the Four Corners back to Phoenix. Just outside the Navajo Reservation on Interstate 40, my front driver side tire blew. First blowout I ever experienced. It was quiet harrowing. The assistance from a trucker, the drive back to Holbrook for a tire (of course my spare was flat), and the safe return to the desert were all recorded. It encouraged me to think about all those events that have made up my life. Not just the seemingly negative ones, like a car breaking down on the highway, but the positive ones, like being present when my mare foaled on April 6. There are so many events that I think I would be hard pressed to recollect enough of the details to record it, even for just posterity. But then the thought occurs, what if the more I ask myself about the situations and circumstances throughout my life, would it offer some insight? Some clarity? And then I remember my age (which I was asked to declare during my observation of Kid’s Yoga today, then realized that all of their ages didn’t add up to mine!) and began to think what a daunting task that would be. There is something intriguing, though, regarding reminiscing about past events. I have a friend who, every time I observe her with her family, they spend hours remembering past situations, and almost always with great laughter. Stories are retold to remember and to reconnect.
If you haven’t found your rhythm in noticing the guy in the beat up El Camino next to you at the red light on 67th Ave. and Bethany Home, then perhaps this next suggestion is more to your liking. Look through some photo albums. Are there people pictured that you have lost contact with? Have they passed on? Was there a verbal confrontation and thus the relationship was severed? Or are they strangers, perhaps random pictures taken from dorm parties thirty years ago? Any of the above would work as a stepping off point. If you were to search Facebook or contact a mutual friend of one that was in the photo, what would your conversation be like? How would it feel contacting that person after so much time has passed? Write it down. Is the person no longer living? Do you think they might have had regrets? Write it down. Unknown personalities wearing ski hats and holding wine bottles? Who are they, where did they come from, what happened to them? Write it down.
If that doesn’t get your creativity flowing, how about your own memories? Sit quietly in a comfortable chair. Take a couple of deep breaths with audible exhales (this is great to release stress). Ask your mind questions such as, what is the best memory I have? The worst? Do I have a regret? Who was there? What happened? When did it occur? Whether it drips out or appears as a flood, write it down. Recollect the details. How were the characters dressed? What did they say? How did you feel about their words? Was there a seemingly insignificant couch, dog, car, tree, ice chest, or sandwich that you remember now but didn’t seem important at the time? Write it down.
No one has your memories, your perception of events. Anything you record is yours alone, to keep for yourself, or to share perhaps with the person that was there or a mutual friend. There is no right or wrong way to list the circumstances that come to the forefront of your thoughts, but know that this can often be a cathartic act. Having a box of tissues for tears or a pillow for an angry punch might prove helpful. And, just to try out the experiment, once you have jotted down one event, do others float to the surface? Does it instigate long-held beliefs or forgotten dreams? Can you let go of something that you’ve been carrying around with you? There is always someone interested in the story that only you can share. Give it a try. Write about it, sketch it, paint it, set it to rhythm, or perform it. Allow your memories to fuel the creativity waiting just below the surface, wanting to ooze or dash, in black and white or full color, on a page or through a piece of wood or music. Or will you remember this as one more experiment that you were too afraid to try?
My daily experiments are posted on Facebook and Twitter, along with my updates on printing manuscript #3, Of Stars and Secrets. Visit my web site for poems and short stories that give a hint of where I’ve been, and the memories that have poked consistently enough for me to put them down. www.myjoyenterprises.com