He shifted nervously in his chair and sighed as yet another 737 taxied off toward the runway, heading for some unknown destination. It wasn't his destination. He knew that much. His plane had been delayed. He wasn't sure why. Something to do with fog...somewhere. It all sounded rather nebulous which seemed appropriate in a way. He felt rather nebulous. Staring out the enormous (severely smudged) window, he absently tapped the notebook on his lap. Another jet taxied out while the plane he'd seen only moments ago climbed into the air.
He continued to tap, purposely ignoring the notebook that had been his constant companion (and sometimes nemesis) for more than a year. "What if I finish this? So what?"
That last thought was tight and hit hard. Like the dot beneath the question mark, "So what?" punctuated a larger question that resided somewhere between his head and the pit of his stomach. What if no one reads it? What if no one gets it? What if no one wants it? What if no one cares?
He stared down at his notebook without really seeing and drew a question mark on the cover. He traced and retraced until the ink began to smear a bit and he'd worn a groove into the surface. He watched the ball of his pen as it followed the curve of the mark without any real guidance from him. Then he actually took notice of the shape.
Huh. That was interesting and a little ironic.
The question mark reminded him of the country road that ran in front of his family's farm. It was a big, wide curve (almost a full circle) that wound around Tabor Mountain and ended abruptly at a ninety degree, left-hand turn. There was no way to turn right because the mountain blocked you. There was nothing ahead but fencing and some farmer's pasture. There was only one way to turn--left. And that was a straight shot right into town. He'd never thought about it before, but there it was...a question mark.
It didn't hit him all at once. The idea began to sink in slowly, like butter melting on a warm slice of bread. The question mark looked like a road, a road that was familiar and not unfriendly. It was a meandering road, but it wasn't a treacherous one. Maybe question marks (and the questions that precede them) weren't really a bottom line in and of themselves.
What if asking "So what?" wasn't really the end, but the beginning of a journey?
What if a question mark was just a familiar path into town?
Today I wore one of my favorite T-shirts. I think one person actually smiled and commented. I've come to realize that some people don't see the humor (or the reality) of what's printed across the front...
"Top Ten Reasons to Procrastinate" 1.
Okay, I guess you have to BE a procrastinator to fully appreciate procrastination humor. And I definitely AM a procrastinator. In fact, I'm probably one of the worst kinds of procrastinators. I fool myself with my procrastination tactics and then feel ashamed of myself for not getting things done. I beat myself up and hang onto feelings of inferiority, comparing myself to those who do and complete and accomplish their goals without fail.
They're the ones with checklists that actually have checks.
It's not that I don't get many things done. I do. My days are full of productivity, tasks that demand (and get) immediate attention. I'm just not good at doing things that are challenging, yet not necessarily pressing...things that I want to do, but don't actually have to do.
This doesn't bode well for someone who wants to (but doesn't have to) write.
Last night I watched a little of the Lifetime story about Georgia O'Keeffe. In spite of the fact that I only saw about half of it, the movie still managed to inspire. Two lines, for example, especially resonated with me. The first, was when O'Keefe stated that she saw her whole life in every empty canvas.
I SO get that.
A blank piece of paper (or computer screen) can definitely have the same effect. Life experiences, collected and neatly filed away, somehow clutter every inch of space. Every encouragement, criticism, inspiration, and doubt are present in the glaring emptiness of the unblemished page. There is a trick, I think, to making that first (and second) stroke, some combination of ignoring and embracing that lifts the chin, trains the eye, steadies the hand.
But maybe all that's just another way of saying it takes guts to begin and even more to keep going.
In the movie, O'Keeffe's husband said, "Work doesn't become art until somebody buys it!" That sounds superficial because there is obviously more value in art than any price tag (great or small) ever reflects, but I had just been thinking about the reciprocal nature of art when he uttered that line and it seemed to make a lot of sense.
I was reminded of the old riddle..."If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?" Scientifically speaking, of course, the vibration that a falling tree generates is only categorized as sound when it's received and has an impact on some creature's ear. Pressure waves exist and do their thing regardless of the audience, but "sound" is a term of perception. Sound must be sensed.
It seems like art is kind of like that too. It's a communication that wants to be received. Work that isn't seen is like a voice that isn't heard. So maybe work really doesn't become art until someone values it, invests in it, finds a place for it in their life or soul. Maybe it's only then that the cycle is complete.
Only then does some lonely percussion become the inspiration for others to dance.