Her hair was a miracle, a wonder, a symphony of wild and beautiful. You could get lost in hair like that.
Let it wrap you in golden strands the color of wheat just before harvest like a blanket and a fire on a cold winter night. Her hair was a mystery, an enigma, a talisman.
Her hair beckoned you to magical forests, castles, charmed cottages.
I was in love with her immediately. Entranced. Intrigued. Infatuated. I knew deep down it would not end well, but I hung around waiting for her to either find a table or leave. I intended to follow her out the door if need be. Determined to talk to her.
The odalisque sits staring off into the now. Completely comfortable in her body, belly, thighs, and all. She has come to terms with it and embraced her physical self.
The artist is in love with color and is not concerned with flattering her, though she is gorgeous. She is just what I need as a muse – a woman at ease in her skin, able to tell her story, and willing to do so to anyone who will listen or to remain silent – according to the whims of her audience.
People talk of their muse as if a magical creature that drops art in their laps fully formed and ready to go. No. The muse is the inspiration for the art – the one who whispers in your ear….the stray thought that ties the piece together.
Matisse’s model for the Odalisque series was Henriette Darricarrère. She too was a painter. She gives the appearance of complete comfort and rest while holding her poses – for ten hours at a time. Art is not necessarily easy.
The blue and white porcelain pot with the plant echoes the blue and white porcelain in the room I am in as I write this.
The stone path to the door in the tree is made up of stones too big to be called cobblestones. They are worn and broken in spots – the path was either once well used or has been abandoned for years. I can’t tell which.
The doorway calls to me. Has always called to me. I’m quite certain happiness and contentment lie behind it. I think it is the Tree of Life.
I’ve been trying to get there for years.
Sometimes the heels of my shoes are too high and I can’t negotiate the stone path. Other times, the atmosphere on the way to the door is too foreboding. To inaccessible. Too dark. Too far out of my way. Too something.
I am determined now to go through. I have kicked off my heels and stride barefoot through the forest. Vulnerable and a little bit afraid.
Most likely, the door will be hard to open. I think the hinges might groan. Might be rusted shut. I don’t think many people actually make it through that doorway. Not these days. The times are too — something. I’m supposed to be a wordsmith. I should be able to summon the right word. I can’t find it. Maybe unsettled. Complicated. Perilous. Insane.
If I get through….no…when I get through, I will paint the door red. In opposition to the Rolling Stones.
There is too much black already.
I am so weary.
Once on the other side, I think if I stand in the doorway and look out, the forest will be sun-dappled and green. The path is welcoming and not perilous. The tree may bear apples. Bright red and juicy. Plenty for me. Plenty for others.
I think once the journey is over, I may forget how arduous it was.
That might be a blessing. Reality, which has been far too much with me, tells me that is not likely.
It wasn’t easier with sturdy shoes. But approaching the door naked and with reverence seems the right thing to do now.
I have stripped myself of that which might hold me back. That may keep me from feeling all the feels. I am vulnerable, but I am strong.
I will stride as much as possible across those worn, broken rocks through the dark, dreary forest.
I am tired of the dark. Tired of dreary.
I am tired.
It’s now or never. This crosses my mind a lot. I don’t have a lot of years left. I have spent my life, it seems, in a perpetual state of stress. I can’t remember not being stressed. Not since I was 10. Fifty-three years of stress can kill you. Sap your will to live.
I haven’t lost that. I am not defeated. I am determined.
A second wind has energized me. Or maybe a third wind. Hundredth wind?
I’ve been at this for a long time.
What’s on the other side of the door?
I try to imagine it.
A cozy room with a narrow quilted bed, reading chair, and books?
Another doorway to a sunlit meadow brimming with flora and fauna. Ripe apples? Mine for the picking?
Nothing? Everything. Mindfulness instead of mindless existence.
I am weary of trying to reach that door and failing.
I don’t think I’ve been trying in the right ways. Tried tackling the path with someone or more than one someone by my side.
Tried it alone but was fortified for battle and obstacle. Provisions, hiking books, walking stick, pith helmet. Camera to document the journey.
Tried it tearful. Tried it prayerful. Tried it angry.
Now, no try, just do.
Yoda is perhaps the greatest philosopher of all time. Do or do not. There is no try.
Maybe all of life is just a journey. But that seems too despairing. There has to be a point. A destination. A place of fulfillment and ease.
I intend to find out.
That door beckons. Has always beckoned. I will push it open.
The light dominates but doesn’t reach far enough. It’s the first thing a newborn sees.
Light gives us color and shadows – penetrates and reveals.
There are things that hide from the light. Cockroaches of feelings and thoughts that if brought out might destroy us. These stay in the shadows bearing witness but silent. Sometimes rustling so we don’t forget. A haunting of sorts.
The others reveal themselves – prisms and golden archways to the past, to the future. Sunbeams of insight as understanding dawns.
Should we bring those shadow dwellers into the light? Would it destroy them or us? Or are we just repulsed? Is the unexamined life not worth living? Do we need to get the magnifying glass out for all the firings of our synapses? Should every memory be put under a microscope? Backlit and magnified? A hundred times? A thousand?
The cool stone of now, just now, is seductive. A balm for the mind. Some of us actively seek it trying to escape just for a moment, a few minutes, the clamor of thoughts and scuttling of shadow memories. Seeking silence and stillness.’
Now is sanctuary. An absence of worry and fear. Here. Just here. Now. Breathing. The light not penetrating. The slate clean. A return to the womb where we don’t remember, don’t think, where we only have the nurturing of now. The peace of it. Protected from the onslaught of the light and things that scuttle in the shadows.