Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Musings brought on by harvesting Neighbor Beans

In countries and situations where writing is forbidden, it takes on primacy.  In prisons, people scratch their message into stone, onto dirt.  On desert islands, messages are shoved into bottles and set to sea.  When communication is made to seem actively impossible, the human will to communicate rears its head and people willingly risk death and dismemberment to do it.

This is healthy.

In our current  culture, something much less healthy is afoot.  Writing is not forbidden, it is discouraged.  Hallmark does it for us.  ...Writing, as we are taught to do it, becomes an antihuman activity.  We are forever editing, leaving out the details that might not be pertinent.  We are trained to self-doubt, to self-scutiny in the place of self-expression.       Julia Cameron, "The Right to Write"

Remembering back a year or so, into the years that I was enrolled in and dropping out of college, discussions and rants by art and literature teachers attempted to draw a definitive line between "art by talented and gifted and poverty-stricken artists" and "crafts by the masses..." 
It used to really bug me to listen to them.  I was impatient to just be an artist.  The writing teachers made much more sense: write, write, write.  learn how to use punctuation (I've messed up there pretty good).  remember that your piece needs "a beginning, a middle and a conclusion," and write write write.  

These beans, for instance.  Do they worry if they, as youngsters, climb the fence correctly?  Do they wonder if the blossom on the other side is a prettier shade of purple?  Do they race to be the longest, fattest, most striped bean on the pole?  Do they doubt if they are a bean?  Do they consider their fate, harvested, dipped in hummus and eaten?  Or worse, frozen in a freezer bag marked "July08"?

In this time of smokey summer skies, terrifying world events, and illegible communication I remind myself to take care.  Take care of my garden, share the bounty, preserve some of the crop to bring summer flavor and nutrition to the winter table, and to write as though my life depended upon it.  It does.


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