The voice at the edge of the forest

August 31, 2011

It’s 5:00 AM. I woke up an hour ago, went to the bathroom, came back, had a sip of water and lay my head back down on my pillow. I told myself that I could just close my eyes and fall back to sleep;  it happens, sometimes. I listened to the crickets for a few minutes, wondered if Ameera had brought Troy inside like I asked her to, heard the faint yelping of coyotes in the distance, and thought how amazing it is that I live in a part of the country where I can hear these beautiful creatures calling out into  the night or that, on occasion, I glimpse the tail of a fox pouncing gracefully across the garden in the long grass.

As my mind wound it’s way around the landscape, remembering spottings of bears and wild turkeys and foxes and moose, a clear voice came to mind from the edge of the forest of my thoughts and said, “Have you read my blog yet?”  It was Carrie Grossman. I still had not read her newest entry. I pulled out my laptop and went to her Facebook page, looked at her newest photograph ‘tags’, read a few wall posts, and moved on over to her website, thelightinside.org.

The first thing I read on her blog was a poem by Mary Oliver called, ‘Of Love’. I was fortunate  to spend a weekend with Carrie down in Connecticut at her family home recently and, as always, when I am around this very special friend of mine, I must be prepared for the unexpected. This particular weekend, the leela of the divine would have it that an amazing woman named Shakti Durga, on her first trip to America from Australia, just so happened to be staying in one of the two houses on Carrie’s parent’s property that they rent out. And so goes Carrie’s life and path that a teacher with such clarity and truth should find herself at Carrie’s front door—well, within sight of Carrie’s parent’s front door—where yours truly, daughters in tow, happened to be staying that weekend.

And so goes my life and path. We had a beautiful two days there in the Grossman’s lovely home, lots of tears and laughter as we ended our summer, swam, walked through a small forest of bamboo, ate the famous Pink Cake of New York, and listened to the teachings and songs of Shakti Durga. The Mary Oliver Poem reminded me of this healing weekend and I knew where Carrie got the inspiration to post that poem.

But that was not the entry that she had asked me to read. I think what Carrie wanted me to read was, “At Home In The Abbey (at least for now).” Having given in to the fact that I was now awake with no hopes of returning to dreamland (at least not with eyes closed), I read her words. She spoke of being okay with being single. I have known Carrie for ten years‑she is a very beautiful, intelligent, spiritual woman. Anyone who does not know her half as well as I do would wonder why she has not found her soulmate, but one thing I know about my dear friend is that she is in search of something far more meaningful than just a companion or a boyfriend to fill some cavity in her life. Her life is very full of divine play and it keeps her busy enough.

I also read about how she came to release her first Kirtan CD, Soma-Bandhu. Somehow her beautiful words and stories, which I know so well, made me feel heavy and reminded me how stuck I feel in my own life. I have been avoiding writing—writing of any kind: poetry, lyrics, blogs, emails, even the simplest of the simple…Tweets!

I read through a few more of Carrie’s blog entries and decide to shut my laptop down and get one more hour of sleep before it is time to wake up and begin the day. Without skipping a beat, in walks the monkey of my mind. So much for morning dreams! I am on a thought train and have no idea where my monkey friend and I will end up.

I don’t need to drive Isobel to school today—the first day; Ameera drives now. I bought Ameera her first car primarily to give myself mornings without 7:00 AM drives over the mountain but I will drive Isobel to school because she asked me to. I don’t really want to take a walk at 7:05 AM, but my friend Pia has asked me to meet her on the railroad trail so I will, as long as we talk about her problems and not mine.

And so it goes. I line up one distraction after the other to help me avoid what I would prefer to be doing at this hour: writing. What am I afraid of? What does writing mean in my life and, by avoiding it, am I avoiding my life? As I journey deeper into that densely wooded part of my mind, I realize that I have not  only been avoiding writing, but I have  also been avoiding phone conversations and email exchanges with friends that remind me of writing. I have been avoiding anyone who reminds me of music as well, because music reminds me that I am not writing. One of my greatest joys in life is driving and listening to music, which I have been avoiding as well. (I am sincerely sorry, Jill Scott; I promise to get to your new album when I can beat back this fear.)

And so, with a great deal of reluctance (like a certain ‘someone’ finally breaking down and cleaning her room), I pull out my laptop, open a blank page, and just start. Not knowing what to write about, I start to write about not writing. Writing is similar to cleaning a messy room, organizing thoughts and putting them on shelves.

I know that my writing is not important in the bigger world, where real writers have more to say with a more colorful palette, but it is important to me in my little world here—tucked away in the woods where crickets and frogs and coyotes fill the late summer nights with a reassuring hum. It is important because it just so happens that writing is my savior. But truth be told, I don’t always want to be saved, and in those dark bottomless periods, no words come. It scares me because I begin to believe that they will never come again, and that the course I have been on for so many years will need to change to a path where words no longer measure my sense of well being. Eventually, when I am close to giving up, my back against the wall, the words always seem to come—at least for now—and I write my way back into a healthy space.

So, with summer on it’s way out and autumn at my back door, maybe my savior has returned to me. I can’t place a bet on it yet, but I am here at my desk tapping out words today, the first day. There is wood to be chopped and stacked, friends to visit, teenagers to tend to, dogs to walk, walls to paint, rooms to clean, and any number of distractions to keep me from this place, but, for now, I am here, facing my fear of writing down the bones. Thank you, Carrie, for the voice at the edge of the forest.

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9 Responses to “The voice at the edge of the forest”

  1. thank you dear friend…. your stuck … is my stuck.

  2. saffron said

    I so wish you would write a book xxx

  3. Dear Ingrid,

    I believe your writing is very important. It is the voice of a real woman, putting her life, heart, soul, joys, fears and trepidations out for all to see. A vulnerable heart, a true heart, a creative, loving soul. Your writing speaks what so many of us struggle to say but have no words for.

    I have been struggling with not creating art. I had been very stuck, in a space of limbo, not knowing how to move forward, not willing to go back. A void, a vortex, a swirling of uncertainty and hidden despair. Lack of money to purchase what was needed, lack of time … really, it all boiled down to lack of confidence in where I was going and what I was doing.

    I am still on the baby-steps path back to creating after a months-long absence. I have ordered items to create 2 new sculptures (a departure for me, who’s specialty is painting and sometimes photography). I have drawn some sketches of possible paintings. I have lived a lifetime in the past month, which is now inspiring/informing this new work. And, the first steps are … or seem to be … the hardest.

    Congratulations on reaching out, on being vulnerable, on being you. That is what I love so much about your work, Ingrid. Your words speak my life. It is the voice of everywoman.

    • loved your response to Ingrid. I had just finished typing mines and had pressed the ‘enter’ button and was re-directed back up and I say your beginning “Dear Ingrid..” and continued to read and was WOW. She’s an artist too and going thru the same lull and feeling of ‘not being inspired and bound by this fear to create’ but I also related to your reference of the lack of time and monetary resources as well. Times now are lean and priorities are many and the financial freedom to spend of ‘non-essentials’ just isn’t there and its frustrating to me. I’m glad you are making small steps back to your creative pool and reading your post was also inspiring and motivating…it starts with a thought and I feel a spark to do something…although I don’t know what that something is just now. I’ve just decided I’m going to be patient with my process and take it day by day. Thanks for your post Amy!

  4. Keith J. Weir said

    Wonderful words, sometimes we just need to “be”

  5. Pj Schott said

    I rely on those voices from the edge.

  6. Dear Ingrid
    Lovely reading, I think that powerful poet just you know to you book and sure longtime to continued let move move.

  7. Pifou said

    I sing for myself, I write texts and songs for myself, I compose for myself.
    The next thing -be heard and listened by others- is not the final point of my own path.
    Sure it’s marvellous that others citizens from this world would appreciate what i make, sure that it can be shared, but finally, the most important thing is all that conducts me to a quiet river of peace, even if every day is a little difficult when the noise of life and the silence of heart comes to me like a flutter and some words in a desert chapel.

    Hope my english is not too bad to be understood…
    Sorry ^^

  8. I thought that was beautiful! It inspires me. It motivates me. Your situation of writers block and the fear of words never coming to you again reminded me of the artbrush and my pencils and the creative process and the creative energy which seems to have left me. I’m fearful that my style will be lost and that what used to inspire me doesn’t anymore and I’m like waiting to be INSPIRED so I distract myself with other priorities and I’m fulfilled just fine but their is a secret longing I choose to keep buried in the darkest portion of my consciousness and repress the wanting to be creating. I find my outlet in listening to music. Music like your album May 1992 (btw I love your new track A Flutter & Some Words 2011), Lauriana Mae, D’Nell, Kameron Corvet, Dawn Richard, Meiko, Elle Winston, Vanessa Daou, Esthero, Nicole Willis, Luke James and others. But I find that the music industry is devoid of honet, heart, felt music…its restricted and formulaic unlike your music and some of the artist I listed after you. I guess I’m writing this to say I miss your artistry (your poems put to music, your delivery of song, your energy in the world) and your voice but times I stay awake a night just driven to discover a new song a new voice a new vibe that will lay my soul to rest. So I said all of that to say I can relate to this blog entry I’m responding to.

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