Discover more from Omnishambles
Getting down to business...
Hi! It’s been a minute…Life rambles on at its prescribed speed and as usual, I mean well, but life has other ideas…
There is a recorded version at the end of this note so if you’d like to skip the script I totally understand.
Sitting at my desk, morning light is seeping through the window at my back and highlighting a stack of books my computer monitor rests on. It is a stack of unsold poetry books, copies of my own book, Broken Oranges. I can’t decide if it bothers me, or not. Almost immediately following that thought, as if on cue, the light grows in intensity, warming my back and creating a glare off of the white edges of the stack.
It doesn’t bother me, really. I am not in the ‘business’ of writing, I just write. I’ve stopped sending my work to magazines, journals, and other competitive ops. Occasionally, on a whim, I’ll send a piece and then I always berate myself for being so needful of someone else’s affirmation. And for being forgetful of why I write at all.
I would be a liar if I said I have no desire in making a living doing what I love. Who wouldn’t? But, I have purposely chosen to eliminate the urgency of success to focus on the essential and necessary business of living. I use to crave the adrenaline of competition. That sense of anticipation, of waiting for the email that said I was good enough, that I was ‘in’. I did this for years with my visual art and again for my writing. The only difference was that the luster of winning has dimmed over the years. My deep desire for peace has overshadowed my desire for a shiny new line on my CV. Which, by the way, I have deliberately not updated in at least five years.
Career suicide is what some would call it. No. Career suicide happens when you walk away from a dream job, let go of all the hopes and dreams tied to said dream job and freefall into an unknown future. Or, instead of career suicide, it can actually be what obedience looks like. In the eight years since I was led to let go of what I thought was my true calling, we have moved, I have written two poetry books, nurtured and loved six, soon to be seven, grandchildren, turned an old pole barn into a studio, realigned my vision, and have begun a new chapter of
teaching encouraging others to embrace their own creative journeys.
Broken Oranges is my second book of poetry-a genre I never imagined I would be writing, let alone writing enough to publish. I guess that’s why seeing this stack of books under my monitor doesn’t bother me. Yes, I would love to see these on someone else’s shelves, but for now they serve as a reminder of how far I have come since I answered an unlikely call to walk away from what I had worked so hard to achieve. Some would call it unpractical, a little nuts, and probably a little stupid too. I won’t disagree. It hasn’t always been easy, or fun, but it has been surprising, and beautiful, and more than I could have hoped for.
You often hear Mary Oliver’s poem, The Summer Day, quoted. But, it is usually only a couple of lines, and you probably recognize them, even if you don’t know poetry—
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?*
The lines are used so frequently as an inoculation against stagnation but, for me, the meaning has been truncated if you look at only these two lines. Look at what comes in the lines leading up to this—
I don't know exactly what a prayer is. I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass, how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields, which is what I have been doing all day. Tell me, what else should I have done? Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?*
Like Oliver, I don’t always know what a prayer is, or how to do it exactly or well. But I have learned to pay attention, learned how to listen instead of litanize my wants, learned to wait, learned how to unknow the learned things, and trust what I cannot see.
As always, a poem…
Many, One Despondency wraps my body In sluggishness, muffling this acuteness of living into an interminable ache—relentless In its accosting—comforting in its regular-ness. And God dies a million ways daily- Which only makes the plausibility, Of resurrection a real possibility. One does not care the order I put My socks on, whether I park here, Or there; only that I wear them To keep me warm, and get my groceries For the day... One provides in Their way. Speaking to me, now, In sepals and rhizomes, in the old White cat snoring, and the mouse snapped lifeless in a trap; The voice of my neighbor when I call To check on her platelets This week-- praise God When they are up, God is still good When they are not. The God of "I'm too blessed to be stressed" is buried in my compost heap as the God of blue Skies looks down. I just spoke with The God of Queen of the Night and was assured Her luminous, fragrant night blossoms Are on their way, just as The dogwood God weighted branches to overflowing Until they touched the offering limbs of The Ornamental Cherry God... Gone are the mighty, righteous oaks we planted- they rotted, from the inside out— but God of the acorns Promised a new forest for us To try again, meanwhile, underfoot, the earthworm God greets the Spurge God and they gossip about the fungi God- I interrupt to ask of famine, and brutality to hear Only that they have their appointed tasks, but God is at work there too, Mind your hoe, they wince, lest your small damages reap greater misery. Wise, wise I say, and thank you, thank you, thank you, You are good, even in ways I cannot see.
Susan Mulder 2022
If you made it this far, thank you. Tell me, what is it, well, you know the rest…
It isn’t easy to listen to the still,
small voice of calling. In fact it can feel impossible, even if you hear it, to respond. Are there small steps you can take? Can you begin by saying ‘Yes’ and then see what happens? What are the things that continually pull your heart in an impractical direction?
I’d love to hear from you, just hit reply, or leave a message in the comments!
*Mary Oliver, ©1990, quote take from Library of Congress