Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Tenacity saves the bunny.

My shins and knees are bruised from the rescue lessons. I looked at them as I changed for bed last night, recalling the unyielding floor of the pool. I’d expected some bruises, but not these marks-- deep purples and blues nearly black. What the hell? The sight was a catalyst, an invitation into a fatigue-induced depression already brewing. Of what use is this crazy thing I'm doing? I'd sort of felt it coming but hadn't paid attention so, when the chasm opened, I dutifully jumped down its throat like, well, a good little rabbit.
I don’t like it down there.
I only see reflections.
My greatest efforts seem pointless in a place where nothing has a purpose, even those things I love most.

I’m a fool there, soon to become an old fool, then nothing at all.
It’s a place like grief and heartbreak and deep as a well, claustrophobic as a grave.

But it’s a familiar place. I’ve been there often. And…as many times as I’ve been there, I’ve come out again. I knew this, somewhere. And the knowing was like a voice from another room. I didn’t need to understand the words to get the message.

The rescue lessons start in shallow water. Like learning a dance, the student memorizes the movements. The bruises came from my early efforts, when I struggled against the water instead of using it, trying to gain leverage against the slippery tiles. Over and over and over and then some.
Then, clean as the click of tumblers in a lock, mind and body merged. The water became a tool and with my left hand, and a wrist of a mere 5 1/2 circumference, I rotated Pete, 6 ft 5 and 300 pounds, onto his back and pulled him to the surface in one smooth movement.
He emerged with congratulations for both of us, teacher and student.

Practice makes perfect.

Writers, artists, chefs, dancers, carpenters, singers, parents, lovers, lifeguards.

The merits of lifesaving acknowledged and set aside, I know it’s the ‘click’ that drives me. The click always drove me, this time into deeper waters.

I know how to pull myself out of a depression. It can be learned. It can be taught. Last night, for a while, there seemed to be no purpose in living. This morning, I felt great pleasure in opening a new bar of scented soap in the shower.

I’ve introduced speakers and accepted awards for myself and others, but my GOH presentation at Balticon was the first time I’ve ever stood in front of an audience spoke aloud the stuff I usually write alone in the safe corner of my den. The speaking was much harder than the dancing. I’ve watched the tape several times now. It’s painful somewhat because I see mostly the flaws. I don’t like the sound of my voice and I’m not nearly as articulate and entertaining as I’d like to be. The first time I watched it I decided I should never do it again.

But what if I do, and in time, it clicks too? What a rush that would be!

I must mention the Balticon staging crew. Elaine Brennen and Marc Gordon went far beyond expectations to enable me to do the best job possible. The crew were courteous, professional and warm, the announcers congenial and well-prepared. So many things to be considered: lighting, logistics, sound, recording, timing, seating. From where I stood, the coordination seemed smooth and effortless. But I know it was not. I know that a great deal of effort went into it.
I’m fortunate to have worked with such fine people.

Alright. Enough time at the desk. It’s time to make some art. But first, we swim.

g’night

8 comments:

Rubius said...

Lisa, in my opinion it is really great to see someone so involved in life and self-improvement and working at something like life-saving techniques.

I paid close attention to that speech and I truly did find it inspiring. I enjoyed your stories and I appreciated what you had to say about your work and your past and all of the things that make your art what it is. I especially appreciated how it was not one of those usual "art speeches"... the kind that anyone can make.. it seemed to be truly you... and it left me more interested in your art than ever.

we are all fools and we are all wisemen... and none of us are old until we let ourselves be.

may the 'clicks' drive you all your days... they are mostly worth the effort

As a budding artist (still in the pod) and a daughter of an artist and a great grand-daughter of an artist I saw only the successes in your speech. The points well made... the comments that seemed to be so true as to leave marks. Your words left marks on me... but I appreciated your bravery best ... you really CAN do anything... your daughter was right.

Really_Rather_Not_Nice said...

The thing I'm trying to teach myself is that its often the doing and learning of a task that is more important than the task itself. It keeps us from being as sedentary as we may be tempted to be, out of depression, fear, what have you.

I can't remember where I read this, or if I'm paraphrasing, or what, but somebody once said that movement is the compost of the mind. Activity, and learning, and challenging ourselves both physically and mentally is what allows us to be creative creatures. Which seems like such an obvious thing to say... but something that needs to be said often.

Lisa, along with always surprising me here, you also impress me with your honesty. You're one of the few people I know who can manage to be inspiring in both creativity and depression. Not that that makes the depression any more pleasant for you, but the fact that you share it so ego-lessly and honestly with everybody here certainly makes US feel a bit more normal. Sometimes its the tiniest realizations, or the most illogical ones that knock us back over the edge into the dark.

I don't relish hearing about somebody else's painful down-swings, but at least I don't feel like I'm the only one, and it gives me hope for my own life and work, seeing what you've done.

Really_Rather_Not_Nice said...

And just so you know, I wrote all of that in my underwear.

(So nobody thinks I've gone soft).

Dan Guy said...

I rather liked your GOH speech at Balticon. You are brave. Neil has a great deal more practice at public speaking than most of us; one day it may click.

TivoFanatic said...

I am but a small voice...but if one small voice can squeeze into your subconscious, listen to it...Your speech was articulate, inspiring and very entertaining. Any flaws you think may have been there were definitely washed away by your endearing and sometimes outrageous stories. Triumph in your victories...we loved every precious moment of your time with us

Orin Drake said...

You inspire me with these things, your art and your life. I'm sure that's little consolation, but I could not pass this post by without finally saying so. Thank you for existing.

Jenn said...

Notes from a stranger.

From your post:
"The speaking was much harder than the dancing. I’ve watched the tape several times now. It’s painful somewhat because I see mostly the flaws. I don’t like the sound of my voice and I’m not nearly as articulate and entertaining as I’d like to be. The first time I watched it I decided I should never do it again."

From Neil's post today:
"It got stuff I wrote into print. There is nothing for a young author that teaches you how to get better faster than reading something you wrote in print -- suddenly every mistake, every infelicity, every laziness, shows up as if in neon letters."

I happened to read both of these today, from Neil's page to the link he provided to your site. I think the synchronicity of these two statements is meaningful, and was thereby compelled to share them.

It all gets better as you go. Just keep dancing.

lisa said...

To each of you, thanks so much. I promised myself when I started this journal it would be about the process of art. I don't think I can write about the process of art without writing about the process of life.
Because one makes the other.

to Jenn: interesting. Thanks. I keep hearing and living this idea that to learn to do something well, you must do it. I am happy to find myself in good company.

To all:Which reminds me---one of the things I must do before I enter the studio tonight is finish another rescue lesson. Time to hit the water.
Just to remind you---sometimes it's you who inspire me. Thank you.