16 May 2009

The Return of the Crow

My Dear Reader,

Hello! I hope you've been well. I've been very busy beating myself up. It's funny how so much time goes by, and recently I've had some things going on around me that have reminded me of something very important: My life is passing each and every day, and it's up to me to embrace it now before more of it is gone.

In light of that, I stopped with a friend today at an art fair in Beverly Hills. Now, this art fair is several blocks long, and I've been to it once or twice before. I used to work in the neighborhood, afterall, and my former building towers over the park where artisans of all kinds have set up tents filled with their work.

No biggie, I thought. We walk, we look for some paintings. I'm unlikely to buy anything...


Imagine my surprise then, Dear Reader, when I stumbled on a booth filled with BRONZE SCULPTURES OF CROWS. I'm not kidding. My good sweet friend, knowing me well, took one look at the gleam in my eyes, and said, "Um, I'm going to leave you alone."

Even another woman, who was talking to the artist, saw the look in my eyes and excused herself so I could talk to the artist myself.

Let me introduce you to Vicki! She's a former animator, who left the business a decade ago when it became clear to her that computers were the animation of the future, and not the paintings she had once known. And guess what!!!??? She LOVES crows, too!

I was like a kid in a candy store. I adored this!

Apparently, just a few minutes before, Michael Jackson had been looking at it, too. I guess crazies all think alike. F.

Vicki and this Sable Crow spent an hour chatting about why we love crows, how misunderstood they are, how misunderstood we are, and how much can be learned of humanity by understanding creatures that can fly.

She told me a lovely story of the night her parrot went missing. After a frantic search, they found him, and when he was back in her arms, he kept putting his head on her chest and saying, "Good boy, good boy." Astonishing. And let me remind you, dear Reader, that crows and ravens are smarter than parrots.

There were fountains, and free-standing sculptures, and table sized sculptures:

Vicki described the lost-wax process by which she creates her pieces, telling me of the foundries she uses and how much she loves her work. It was an extraordinary afternoon.

What's that? Did Sable Crow buy something? Patience, dear Reader! All will be revealed.

As I told Vicki, "I see this not as a single purchase, but as the beginning of a relationship." There is a long tradition of the relationship between artists and patrons. By the end of our conversation, we'd talked about a life-sized scarecrow that she dreamed of doing (filled with crows, of course!) and I'd told her of my hopes to buy a house soon, and promised to commission a fountain with two crows to grace my garden.

Now, as I sit back at my computer, returning to a writing that is so hard for me, I'm thinking about how much life is about the people we meet and connect with. The people whose stories we come to know. I'm glad you're interested in mine, dear Reader. Leave me a comment and share yours.

I heard a song this morning that I've listened to many times, but never HEARD. Sarah McLachlan covered Ordinary Miracle in her latest collecton album.

It's not that unusual, when everything is beautiful.
It's just another ordinary miracle, today.

I've been struggling so hard lately, dreaming so much (both metaphorically and literally) and have felt so distanced from my dreams. Last week, I had a board retreat for the Trevor Project, and we had a managment consultant come in and run it. (For investors in the Trevor Project, please know that while her services are very expensive, she donates them to us FOR FREE because she is so connected to our cause.) As I drove her to the airport, we talked about the way I'd been feeling lately, and she helped me to see that I have been suffering a kind of slow-motion shrinkage of my future.

Imagine, if you will, how I've always seen the road ahead of me. The road slopes steeply up, with rolling hills on each side. There are high forests ahead, and while the road curves and I cannot see where it leads, I have long been confident that the road was a good one, that my future was filled with increased possiblity, and that the journey would be worth the effort.

But for the last year or so, that road has changed dramatically. I seem to be chopping my way through thickets of brambles. There are thorns that cut my flesh. The road has seemed to slope down lately, and to have gotten narrower. In the story of the last year, the road has narrowed dramatically, and is sometimes hard to see.

So I have been living in a world of diminishing possibility for the first time in my life. For a person used to a parabolic, scary future, this narrowing of possibility is terrifying. That tomorrow will not be better than today--a fundamental belief of mine lately--is a terrible way to live.

For better or worse, I believe we make choices based on our perceptions of the world around us. Consider Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor's video in the post below. Consider also her closing query: which side do you choose?

The revelation that I choose the path on which I walk--that I choose the way I perceive the world around me--is what I've been working on in my absence.

I chatted with Dr. Taylor the other day in my office. She reminded me to be careful about how I perceive the world. Our perceptions are powerful. She reminded me that, though the financial world (she didn't know about my romantic world) is in chaos and is filled with uncertainty, that I am safe, that I am loved, and that I am needed. She signed her book with a lovely reminder: "You are an angel in the world."

I promise that my silence has been no casual neglect, Reader. I do not abandon this digital garden of mine. Instead, I am struggling to see the world in the way I used to, to see my future as filled with possiblity--bigger than it is today.

The appearance of Vicki, for me, is a part of that struggle. I perceived her today as a kind of milestone, a marker on my journey and a reminder that joyful surprises and wonderful people populate my future. Those crows perched on wheels and grinders and fountains were more living to me than their feather-and-bone brothers. They were for me a symbol of my own progress, and nothing less than a sign that I am--at this moment with you, dear Reader--in exactly the right place.

And as for what I bought:

Vicki calls it: "Conversation Piece"
I call it: "Writing"