Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My Heart Pounding with Passion

Yesterday morning, my eye was caught by a book of poetry in my bookcase.  Trusting this intuitive spark, I lifted the volume from the shelf, leafed through it, chose a page and began to read:

Seven weeks away
from the New Hampshire desk, on the last day
of our trip, in Sapporo,
we ate noodle soup with the head
of the Hokkaido
Historical Museum.  In his good
English, and with
embarrassment, the director desired us
to check the grammar
and diction of a photograph's caption
he had composed in English -
and his two sentences lacked one
"the".  But I also noticed
that if he reversed the order
of clauses, the first
sentence would gain energy; the second,
turned into a dependent
clause, would compress the whole to half
the words and make a witty
shape.  My pencil made loops, circling
new orders of diction
and style, my heart pounding with passion.

from The Old Life,
 by Donald Hall
A native New Englander now well into his eighties, Donald Hall is one of my favorite poets and essayists.  Much of his poetry is elegaic, and, therefore, a bit sad.  But his reflections of life on his grandparents' New Hampshire farm, where he has now lived for decades, meet me at my heritage, and make me smile.  My parents came from farming families, and ran a dairy farm for the first 10 years of my life.  They, too, are in their eighties, and reside on a parcel of land they have owned for nearly 60 years.  Mr. Hall's portrayals of everyday life and of his love for home never fail to move me.

But I digress.  The account I read yesterday, of a moment during a trip Hall took to Japan, sings to my creative spirit.  It is an inspiring glimpse of a person being who he is, performing his life's calling.  In the midst of a lengthy vacation, away from his writing desk and the daily disciplines of a writing life, a serendipitous opportunity drops him smack into the middle of his art.  The easy task of checking the grammar and diction of two sentences become an affirmation of his creative talent.  In working with a mere caption, he comes to glory in the joy of the creative process, in his excellence as a crafter of words.  The mundane becomes sacred.

I can see him at a table in Japan, reading through the caption, then adding a "the".  Then I see his energy shift as divine inspiration flows through him, enabling him to recognize the creative potential of the words.  As he makes loops and circles with his pencil, I feel his joy, his thrill with the pleasure and satisfaction that come with creative efforts.  I experience this same joy when I see the potential of a certain combination of materials, and allow creative energy to flow through me as I work and play and finalize the project.  Mr. Hall transforms words into art.  I transform fiber and yarn into art.

For me, living a creative life means consciously allowing the inspiration of the Universe to flow through me.  It means being present, aware of my surroundings, awake to creative opportunities, and open to challenges my environment or circumstances bring.  It requires discipline, which I am slowly developing.  It means taking risks.  It requires practice, practice, practice.  Most important of all, it asks for play; a romping spirit that revels in the joy of creating.

Donald Hall has figured it out.  I'm learning to do the same.  The reward is feeling fully alive, deeply satisfied, my heart pounding with passion.


  1. You express yourself in the written word as beautifully as you create with fabric. :)

  2. You really do have the soul of an artist. :)