What things do you put off or avoid to feed your creative self?
Jennifer and I have been talking quite regularly about the impulse to create vs. balancing everything else. Does this sound familiar … you’re up late at night or early in the morning writing, revising, making lists, sending out poems, etc. Meanwhile, the household chores go undone. Grocery shopping waits. Bills will get paid tomorrow … all to finish a line or correct a stanza break. I don’t know how we find the time to write, but we do.
Why just this morning as I walked across my crumb-laden kitchen floor, I decided to forgo sweeping to finish this blog post.
Maybe we don’t honor our creative selves enough—or maybe we devote too much time to craft. I’m not sure, because writing is a joyful yet selfish act. I've certainly opted for cooking hot dogs instead of roast chicken for dinner just so I could speed up the nightly routine. The quicker I can get the kids to bed means a few more blessed moments jotting down the next poem.
Jennifer sent this poem by Louise Erdrich to me. Something to think about when deciding what to do with your time.
Advice to Myself
Leave the dishes.
Let the celery rot in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator
and an earthen scum harden on the kitchen floor.
Leave the black crumbs in the bottom of the toaster.
Throw the cracked bowl out and don't patch the cup.
Don't patch anything. Don't mend. Buy safety pins.
Don't even sew on a button.
Let the wind have its way, then the earth
that invades as dust and then the dead
foaming up in gray rolls underneath the couch.
Talk to them. Tell them they are welcome.
Don't keep all the pieces of the puzzles
or the doll's tiny shoes in pairs, don't worry
who uses whose toothbrush or if anything
matches, at all.
Except one word to another. Or a thought.
Pursue the authentic--decide first
what is authentic,
then go after it with all your heart.
Your heart, that place
you don't even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementos.
Don't sort the paper clips from screws from saved baby teeth
or worry if we're all eating cereal for dinner
again. Don't answer the telephone, ever,
or weep over anything at all that breaks.
Pink molds will grow within those sealed cartons
in the refrigerator. Accept new forms of life
and talk to the dead
who drift in though the screened windows, who collect
patiently on the tops of food jars and books.
Recycle the mail, don't read it, don't read anything
except what destroys
the insulation between yourself and your experience
or what pulls down or what strikes at or what shatters
this ruse you call necessity.