Most of us know that being both present & mindful to the moments that unfold while also being able to visualize our hoped-for futures go a long way in the shaping of our realities.
But let’s shift gears a bit & scan our history, ask ourselves how form, or the lack of it, has informed the path of our lives.
Go WAY back, if you can, or at the least, consider the stories you were told about your first handful of years. Research confirms that the first three years of our lives are the most impressionable- critical in shaping our brain’s architecture & providing the base for our organizational development & functioning throughout life. This small segment of life from so long ago also has a direct impact on how we develop learning skills as well as social & emotional abilities.
Makes sense to me. I was a product of LSD & the summer of love. In fact, that pretty much sums everything up. I could even end the post here, but what fun would that be?
At the least, I’d like to share some brief details so you know where I’m proverbially & literally coming from, & why my current quest to embrace form in its varying degrees of glory is so important- to me, to you, & to any other creative being out there. (Especially those of you that scoff it like I once did).
Though baptized in a Catholic church with my father’s Cuban family in their best polyester & gold necklaces sitting proudly in their pews while my mother’s American Heinz 57 family fidgets in theirs, my official christening is really at a Led Zeppelin concert. There, in the front row in my mother’s belly pack/sling, Robert Plant shakes his rock n’ roll locks & covers my six-month-old head with sweat.
This is how it begins, with one of the pillars of musical genius letting loose on stage, volume so high, 42 years later, my left ear still occasionally goes deaf.
When my parents split two years later, it is not for lack of love, but lack of form. The structural integrity of my father’s brain is akimbo- he is diagnosed with schizophrenia & locked up- with regular jolts of electric shock to aid him in his healing. Needless to say, he is & will never be free from the facility in which he now lives.
Jump to first grade. I ruin page after page of xeroxed mimeos, making frantic, giant holes with my eraser when I realize I haven’t followed the directions & am doing it wrong. In fact, I can’t really comprehend much of anything, & resort/retreat to my imagination to help get me by.
Fourth grade: salvation. Something clicks. I comprehend language, am invited into an advanced reading group. There among the musty books of the school library, I find the mojo that makes my heart flow. John Steinbeck, The Brother’s Grimm, autobiographies of Amelia Earhart, Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller- stories of other people’s lives, of new places & ideas beyond my own borders.
At the city library, I venture into the adult sections. I go there regularly, alone, and browse everything from astral projection to the savannahs of Africa. Language becomes my spaceship. I learn to cultivate it so that I, too, can be a storyteller. To say on the page what I don’t have the courage to speak out loud.
Meanwhile, my mother, the eternal hippy, does her best to raise my brother & I. It doesn’t always go so well. In fact, I could script the next series of after-school specials, & probably for several seasons thereafter. Episodes could include (but are not limited to) countless self-made meals of frozen toaster oven pizza, the Hell’s Angels roasting pigs in the back yard & doing lines on the living room coffee table, & my mother & her own series of unfunny husbands selling drugs for the Miami mafia (via my grandparents no less) while slowly snorting up the profits.
Amid the chaos, I come & go as I please, guided only by my gut & some teachers who take the time to see me for who I am: a young girl swirling in a messy hell with terra firma nowhere to be found. I survive on sheer will & the belief that it has to get better. (And a lot of Elio’s frozen toaster oven pizza).
In college, I meet poetry. Rumi & Elizabeth Bishop to be exact. I am in awe of how they made language a vessel, a FORM for expression, & how they arouse such deep feelings in me with so few words.
““Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”- RUMI
They awaken in me a spark & the light of the world. I begin to see beauty in all the small things that I’d previously missed. Even a waft of dust in a streak of sunlight makes me weepy.
I read Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek & know I have to change my life.
“The texture of the world, its filigree and scrollwork, means that there is a possibility for beauty here, a beauty inexhaustible in its complexity, which opens to my knock, which answers in me a call I do not remember calling, and which trains me to the wild and extravagant nature of the spirit I seek.” – ANNIE DILLARD
I have to allow myself to be led by my own poet’s heart, to heed that call, wherever it might take me. & take me, it does, with no real form or structure in sight. I am a waft of dust in a rainbow of light.
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In it, I’ll reveal how I mistakenly made marketing the bad guy, how that influenced my frenzy against form & how a recent epiphany on INTEGRATION helped me set the record straight.