Archive for August, 2007



Okay. So we all know that adage about the cup half empty or half full, right? And the cool thing is to always make it seem that we are the half full type of personality, sucking the best out of what little we have, right? (Who actually admits to being a half empty kind of person?) But here’s what I think: pour out that half full or half empty, whatever it is, and start over. Be empty. Be totally empty. So empty that you’re shaking that cup, swirling your finger around the bottom, searching for that wetness, so empty that the frustration builds up, because what will happen is that you’ll get to fill it again. If you leave it with anything, you’ll have to mix it—and what’s a mix? Like all the colors of the palette swirled together: mud.

Boredom. I need to look that word up. My guess is it means something like this: “Pertaining to the inner drive to delve deep into the soul (boring like making a hole) to find internal peace, pleasure and creative joy.”(I was always good at that Dictionary game, the one where you find a word, make a definition, and try to stump everyone. Margaritas always helped to loosen up those definitions a bit. I always won, but with the margaritas, winning didn’t particularly matter). What happened to boredom? It’s the best thing going: emptying out in order to refill. How many of us can remember that beautiful whining we used to make, when the entertainment was over, when the drive to do the long desired summer activities were met, then came that moment, when it would start… the bumbling into walls, the picking up and placing down of a multitude of materials, and increasing the volume of our complaints to deaf parental ears: “I’m bored!” And then, it would come…the project that would inspire us for days, the clubhouse, my macramé hammock (that I never finished), the dug out irrigation system I created that almost destroyed my parent’s yard, dressing up the poor dog like a clown, making a ridiculous play to entertain only the family:  those inspired creative impulses that have carried some of us actually into our careers.

Better than that: boredom. Successfully mastered will bring that drive to delve deep to find that peace and creativity anywhere, anytime. Waiting at the airport. Waiting at the doctor’s office. Waiting for anything: how many times do we need to wait? How impatient are we about waiting? Fill the time with cell phone calls, with calendar adjustments, work affairs…but to wait that extra bit of time to EMPTY, to create that void, then to call up what specifically we want to fill that spot, so that in the process, time disappears, and we say….ahhh…because we have filled with grace and the artistic brush of our souls…boredom…that moment of listening to what says, “hmm, what would be fun to do now?”

I think as we get really good at boredom, we can almost bypass the whining stage: we learn to be on the alert to get ready to EMPTY, and we even get excited to cleanse out, to dump out, to trash calendars and watches, and then to await the magic of the simplicity of filling…the surprise and charge with reaching out with openness to the obvious wonders of the Earth awaiting us to make what we will with it, as ridiculous and nonsensical as it may all be, and what does it matter? The object is creating joy.

Yesterday I walked past a little boy sitting on the sidewalk, totally absorbed into pounding designs into bricks with a hammer and awl. I watched him for a bit, and delighted in the fact that he didn’t even notice me. I wondered what stories were going through his mind with each hole that he made, and how he probably learned how to use his tools better with practice, learned the nature of the brick, made decisions about where the bricks would go. I wondered if he would become a future architect, an artist, a mason, or just someone who learns to empty well and search for new ways to fill, and to fill in ways that bring the soul a kind of peaceful happiness. I really doubted that he had any kind of schedule to be hammering holes at that specific time. It was emptying out and searching for the fill that produced that endeavor.

Boredom. I so love it.




August 11, 2007 at 3:16 am Leave a comment

Last Chance Mercantile

Last Chance Mercantile. It’s this vast place in the foggy outer plains of Marina, affectionately also known as “The Dump,” but the idea is that what could turn out into the landfill has a “last chance” to be found and purchased by those who are savvy enough to shop there. Russ and I stopped by many times; that’s where we got the door for the shed, supplies for the van, and we always had this ecstatic feeling that we sort of had one over the general population by finding extra cool stuff real cheap, and we helped out our beautiful Mother Earth by reusing unwanted items.

Over the past year and a half, I’ve been there many, many times, not to shop, but to leave a multitude of Russ’ possessions. I’ve become intimate with the place in a way that only people in my position could possibly understand.

There is a section that is a sea of Port A Pots and walkers, and I added Russ’ to it today. Why did I wait a year and a half to add it to that pile? From the first time I saw the line up of the Port A Pots, I could almost see the ghosts of the dead lingering around there, blundering around to go to the bathroom, and perhaps I wanted the passage of time to give him the dignity to firmly become a ghost before dumping that item with the rest.

Early on, with one of the first large loads that actually a friend delivered, I became convinced that the only recording of his sweet voice was taken there. It hit me all at once in the parking lot of the Marina, with his family around, making plans to have lunch and suddenly I was bawling to their total mystification and I had to get to the Last Chance right away. I pawed through the piles of stuff over and over, not finding that familiar blue tin marked “Dark Horse.”  That’s when I learned that items are not kept more than a week, and then they do go to the landfill.

I know what it means when I see collections; today I saw several portfolios of beautiful drawings, a short lifetime of a budding talent in pastels, oils, pencil. The age of death can be so easily determined by what is left behind, and it’s those collections that can identify that it’s a death, not a Spring Cleaning project. On a trip with my sister, we saw what must have been a room full of albums in neat alphabetical order of tunes from the 20’s, then sprawled across a table for 50 cents each. 

Over the past year and a half, I’ve thought a lot about things. It is of course true, that adage about how we are not about our things, that we can’t take our things with us to the Other Side, and we can clutter up our lives with things, and we shouldn’t cry over broken things and on and on and on. Yet, things, I think, do hold some spirit of the person. What I love, and I know Russ did too, is coming across a mystery thing, like at Last Chance, and somehow being “called” to pick it up and hold it for awhile, and being drawn to enjoy it, or maybe being the one who knows what it is for, where maybe the loved ones of that person had no idea, and then taking that thing home to incorporate it into our life.

I had a really hard time letting Russ’ shoes and clothing go. His dad was the one who made my eyes get real bright when he sincerely said that someone could be using those items if I could just turn them in. He was being practical, which was smart. The purpose of things is to let them be used. Not to hold them tight.

So, today, after my drop off of the Port A Pot and some of my own Spring Cleaning items, I wandered around. I admired the drawings of the young woman and wondered about her life. I found little goose figurines that I knew my mother would love, and she would appreciate that they were only a dollar each. There was a couple clearly sorting for their antique store or for resale; they had three carts lined up, and hardly glanced around at anyone. Another lady was lingering over some glasses, taking her time, pondering, perhaps sensing the spirit of the former owners who might have been convincing her to take them home.

Will someday my life be hauled off in jumbled heaps to Last Chance? I guess so. It’s not such a bad thing. No one in my current family could possibly know the value or use of every thing I own, as I couldn’t have known about Russ’ things. We have led lives full of varied interests.  So there, Goodwill, garage sales, it will all go…and maybe, an artist, a Russ character, a happy silly couple starting a new project, will pick up something of mine, as I hope people have of Russ… getting a warm, inspired sense, finding the thing irresistible, telling friends, “Hey, I scored at Last Chance!”


August 2, 2007 at 9:06 pm Leave a comment