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Entries in black and white (39)

Thursday
Mar152012

Visitors of the Heart

I was trying to sweet talk an Indian ferry-wallah into letting me onto his oversold boat the first time I laid eyes on Lorraine.  She and an Irish girl named Evelyn sashayed up with a bag full of samosas and trumped Will and me utterly.

Will and I had both eeked out every moment of leave we could manage from our jobs (about three weeks, as it turned out) and set off on the least practical honeymoon ever.  It took us about four days of planes and transfers to move from the blizzard-bound winter of Colorado through a bitingly wet day in London into the dim and humid tungsten-lit wee hours of Calcutta.  And now finally, we were on a speck of archipelago one ferry ride away from our destination only to be stymied by the only Indian public employee I had ever encountered who was impervious to baksheesh.

And that is how Will and I found ourselves stuck in port with Lorraine and Evelyn and some rich German who, in an effort to vie for their attentions, bought us all dinner and too many drinks.  It was a good start. The next day we managed to get on the boat and get to our final stop where we discovered we were all staying at the same guest house.  I fell in love with several of the travelers I met during the next two weeks of tropical indolence, but none more than Lorraine. 

I have traveled enough to know that the little tribe assembled on that island was not a foregone conclusion.  It was a rare and magical convergence and I was lucky to take part in it.  I'm also lucky that Lorraine still has a gypsy soul, even as she and her girlfriend settle down in Scotland.  That is how they landed on my Colorado doorstep last week and burrowed their way even further into my heart. 

It's also how I know, even when the routine of daily life obscures the proof, that magic still exists.

Wednesday
Nov302011

Path through the Woods

In the just-over-a-year that I've been writing this blog it seems to have evolved from a photography study into personal journal with pictures.  It seems to be getting more personal by the day, which leaves me wondering exactly what is appropriate to put here.  Is it the job of this space to be pretty and cheerful?  (I have that in me.)  Inspiring?  (Erm, some days, maybe.)  Real?  (Well this seems like the obvious choice.  But down this path lies danger.)

So I was scared yesterday to publish a catalogue of my failures.  There's a part of me that feels like it's so immodest to make all of this public.  Dirty laundry should be private!  And then there's the part of me that has discovered this space feels like a release valve... my life gets so full, and pressure builds, and publish and a measure of relief. I guess I'm not sure what the exact right function of this space is yet, but I'm feeling my way through the dark by instinct.  Soon I will get some light bulbs, and then we'll have a real party!

Amy Z left this in a comment yesterday, which I love: Revel in living life outside the crop. It's where the REAL stuff happens that makes up the rich fabric of your life, dog puke and all. Those struggles - be they laundry or light bulbs - are what connect us all as imperfect humans.

Thank you so much for letting me be imperfect here.  Pretty and cheerful feels like an awful lot to live up to.  Thank you so much for telling me your houses are messy too.  Maybe real people do live this way.  Thank you so much for letting me be real.  (Unless you are my mother-in-law, in which case it was all an exaggeration for comedic effect.  We're great.  Really.) 

Wednesday
Nov092011

The Tao of Bird

I thought I was done writing about all this woo-woo spiritual stuff because I've always believed that spiritual exercises should be very personal and also because, with all this talk of religious experiences and praying, I am scaring a lot of people who are important to me.

But, you know, why stop digging now?  I mean, no one's ever been misunderstood on the Internet, right?

Some of you have pointed out that what I seem to be undergoing is more of a spiritual journey than a religious one.  To the extent that I have not joined a church or adopted a new holy book, you are right.  So I know this language is not precisely correct but it does have the effect of really causing those who know me well to sit up and notice that something profound is happening.

After all, if I just said oh, I set a new intention and this time I'm really, really going to make it happen, most of the people in my life would think, Ho hum.  Guess Corinna finally went back to that yoga class she's been skipping for the past two years.

The language, especially to some of the more ardent rationalists in my life, is deliberately provocative.

But.

I found myself defending this new prayer practice against charges that to pray is to give up my power to an (imaginary) outside force, the argument being that the force of my will or my magnetism is what actually brings the transformation I seek.  In the midst of that discussion I decided this is not a useful distinction for me.

What feels vital is the combination of community + intention + gratitude.

When I distill it down to that, it occurs to me that (certain skeptical) people (like myself) could look at the exercise of religion in these terms too: that people go to, let's say, church.  Or synagogue.  Or mosque.  They have a supportive community there.  They earnestly pray, saying what they want, and saying thank you for what they have.  My current theory is that this is the powerful part. 

Maybe good things come to them, and they, being identified with a religion are inclined to attribute those results to their god.  Fine. 

And maybe I do the practice and good things come to me and I attribute it to the support of my community, or the magnetic attraction of my intention, or the poetic dance of the Universe.  Fine.

The point I came to is, maybe it doesn't matter at all.  Maybe the practice is the important part, the thing that has the power to bring us all to the same table, to connect us, to change our lives.

For now, I'm going with that.

Monday
Nov072011

Under The Colorado Sky

I arrived at night on my first trip to Colorado as a quasi-adult, spring break of my senior year in college.  In the morning I shook off the beer-y cobwebs and stepped onto the porch of my host's Boulder apartment. 

The sky.

I couldn't believe how big the sky was.  You can't even take it in all at once.  A vast light, under which I could take root.  Room to be, even if, at that formative time, I wasn't quite sure who I was.   Space to breathe.  A sense the of appropriate scale of things, the world so big and me so small.  But in a comforting way.

I was hooked.

I'm not saying it was the only reason I moved here, all those years ago.  But it's as good a reason as almost any.  The sky here still stops me in my tracks at least once a week.  It is a muse, a constant source of inspiration and frustration, because it is impossible to do it justice.

Thursday
Nov032011

A Revelation

Gratitude Project, day two.

It sounds a little ridiculous to say that I feel like I've been having a religious experience for the past month.  Maybe it would be easier for me to claim that if, you know, I believed in religion.  But yesterday it dawned on me that religion or no, something is working on me.  Lots of little threads of my life, half-learned truths and secret dreams seem to be stewing together into the vivid present in ways which have the potential to be strangely profound. 

Yesterday it dawned on me that all of this is possible because I found a way to give these personal truths a voice.  It occurred to me that any good thing that arises out of this awakening will be a result of this practice of being authentically engaged that I (quite unknowingly) set out on. 

Last week I wrote about the experience of seeing in photography.  That approach just feels right to me.  But yesterday I noticed the power of allowing yourself to be seen.  It's a choice, and not always an easy one.  There's intense vulnerability inherent in going naked into the world.  But there is also the opportunity to be recognized for who you really are or to attract exactly what you want.

It sounds so simple, so obvious, that I can't believe I'm only noticing it now.  But this was yesterday's revelation.  I am oh so grateful to be seen.