Clean Slate

It takes a lot of work to clean a chalkboard. The chalk smears and clouds the black. Anything new you write on that cloud is indistinct, blurred, masked by smudges.

It takes more work than wiping that eraser across whatever was there before. Clapping out the dust. Scrubbing the chalk off again. You’ve got to let that chalk dissolve away, flowing off in water. And once you’ve spritzed it down with water and it’s gleaming black and bright, you have to figure out…

What new scrawl takes place of the old?

 

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Take Your Broken Heart, Make it Into Art

Recently, Meryl Streep quoted the late and great Carrie Fisher at the Golden Globes, saying, “Take your broken heart, make it into art.”

Since the election in November, my creative life has stalled. Only this month have I gotten back into the swing of things by printing out my manuscript and starting a revision plan. And yesterday, I revised the first chapter.

It felt really important to start this work yesterday, because of what today is. Today is an embarrassment and a tragedy. Today is another bullet point in an American history fraught with racism, sexism, bigotry, religious intolerance, greed, and hypocrisy. Today reminds us all that white privilege is alive and well, that people put party affiliations in front of morals, truth, and other people, and that wicked, power-hungry, greedy people can still do damage.

Reverend William Barber reminds us that “this is not the worst thing we’ve ever seen.” The country has endured the attempted genocide of its native peoples, slavery, Jim Crow, and periods in which non-white people and women alike were not permitted to vote, among so many other devastating elements of our nation’s history.

This is not the worst thing we’ve ever seen. It is, however, a step back towards those very events that are the worst we’ve seen in this country.

I have found myself feeling more powerless and hopeless than not these past few months. And I feel the need for this honesty is important: part of this powerlessness and hopelessness comes from the fact that as a white, straight woman, the effects of this disastrous administration on me will be limited. Nonexistent? Absolutely not. But limited.

I fear for my non-white friends, for my non-Christian friends, for my fellow women, for the refugees and immigrants whom I welcome with open arms, for the LGBT+ community, for those in my generation already struggling with debt and lack of jobs, for those of us who rely on the ACA, for our beautiful land and natural resources, for the creatures who inhabit it, and for so many other groups. The negative effects of this administration will leak out into every area of life, and that shakes me. Within me burns a desire to fix everything, but I am continually confronted with my inability to do that very thing.

And so I write. I create. I tell stories where evil always loses. I tell stories where people put others before themselves; stories of love, of selflessness, of courage, of growth, of honesty, of the fight for justice. It does not feel like enough to me, but it is what I have. It is one element of my resistance.

Art matters. Out of my own bias, I’ll say that stories matter especially. We get drawn into worlds and lives and experiences that are not our own, and our own perceptions can widen. Our own capacities for empathy can grow. Our views of the world and the people in it can change.

So get to creating, artists. The world needs us. Take your broken heart, make it into art.

~Teresa

Make the Scales Fall

The world does not look the same. Of course, the world hasn’t changed at all, really. We’re facing the same problems we’ve always faced. What’s changed, I suppose, is that my faith in humanity has deflated a bit.

To be honest, everything seems flat and a little pointless. Updating a blog to track the developments of my writing seems… I lack the word. However, I do not want to add to “the chorus of despair.”

So here’s the thing. I’m taking a step back. I need to regroup. I need to look at this world and find the work that needs doing. I will still write. I will always write. But personal platforms seem silly now, in light of everything else.

What I need, what the world needs, is less focus on the self. Less internet. More books, which I believe broaden our perspectives, challenge our thoughts, and teach us empathy and compassion. So I’m going to read and write and survive and pray and do the best I can to do the work that needs doing.

For me, it is creating. But perhaps now I turn my efforts not solely to the creation of written words, but to the creation of relationships, to the forging of empathy.

I leave you with this excerpt from this post on The Paris Review.

Friends, I am off to write something to make the scales fall from our eyes. I am off to love someone fiercely. I am off to be quiet and listen, that my perspective may be broad and my empathy unending.

~Teresa