It’s Saturday. I’ve been updating this more than usual lately mostly because I feel like I can write here to a specific audience and not waste my breath trying to say these things elsewhere. At 31, I’m tired of trying to talk art to people who don’t give a fuck about art.
I finally finished a book my friend Kirsten recommended, “The Chronology of Water” by Lidia Yuknavitch. I’d read the acknowledgements while I was visiting her in Portland: “If you have ever fucked up in your life, or if the great river of sadness that runs through us all has touched you, then this book is for you.“
I knew after reading those lines I had to get the book. And I did. It just took me a while to finish. But I finally did last night. The last four chapters made me cry like a little baby.
I don’t like admitting that out loud. But it’s true.
The book is about the life of a woman (Yuknavitch) who comes from a (you guessed it) dysfunctional family. It’s not a poor-me story. It’s not a sequential story that goes from A to Z or explains the why of anything. It takes you on a ride. It makes you feel. It’s brutally honest, poignant and beautiful. I dog eared many pages.
I quote: “You have to forgive women like me. We don’t know any other way to do live than to throw our bodies at it. I was the kind of woman whose relationships were grenades and whose life became a series of car wrecks–anything to keep the girl I was and the girl I had–tiny daughter dolls–safe from this world.“
The book feels like a dedication to any sensitive souls out there who have lived hard lives, but are fucking strong in spite of it and perhaps because of it. Who have found a way to cope, some sort of peace in things like swimming or hiking or art, a way of being real that is constant, in spite of failed relationships and families and bumbling through years of our lives not knowing what the fuck or why.
We can write our own stories. We have that right.
The part that resonated with me the most?
“Listen, I can see you. If you are like me. You do not deserve what has happened or will. But there is something I can offer you. Whoever you are. Out there. As lonely as it gets, you are not alone. There is another kind of love.
It’s the love of art. Because I believe in art the way other people believe in god.“
When I read that part, I got chills up and down my skin. Because that’s exactly what the hell I’ve been trying to say here for years. I’m not alone, ever. Even if I think I am. I have my writing and I have my music. Somehow, these things transcend. These things are like church for me. When I get scattered and lost, I can come back to my art and find that thing I’m missing. But first, I have to sit down with my art. Again and again and again. And trust it. Trust the process. Trust that it matters and means something. And if it only means something to me, that is perfectly OK. But likely, if it means something to me, it will mean something to someone else.
And sometimes, I’m faking it. I’m saying, “I know you’re out there. I feel you.” But Yuknavitch also said: “I feel you,” and it got across to me. So. There’s hope. There’s power in believing, or fake believing. Sometimes these things actually do get across. We are all connected in this invisible web. If we knew how connected, we’d probably start quaking in our boots.
I’ve got another cold plague virus, joy of joys. Working at the public library is simply lovely for catching everything under the sun. Last night, I had a number of things I could have done with friends but instead I stayed in and finished “The Chronology of Water,” and watched a movie. Right before I went to bed, I listened to a recording of a new song I am writing.
I was outside on the patio looking at the stars, listening to my new song, all bundled up. In a moment of stillness and space, I got what I was trying to say in the song crystal clear.
A lot of times, my songs tell me what I’m feeling about something. I’m no good at the whole one on one, “This is how I feel” shit. It’s too forced. But this song kind of explained to me perfectly a situation I’m going through and where I stand on it. And it was a beautiful way to understand it, a way of reaching closure on a situation that may never in real life reach closure.
The point being that I’d sat down with my guitar and written something straight from my subconscious when I was feeling some ambiguous feeling a couple of days prior, thinking I’d never make sense of the situation and always be flip-flopping through analytical stuntedness in my head, and now here I was, listening back to it and understanding what I was going through, and that there was an ending of sorts.
I’m not sure if other musicians and writers have the same experience: Learning about themselves through their own songs. Epiphanies about their own feelings/conclusions based on what they’ve written. I’m sure they do, I’ve just not heard anyone talk about it.
It’s probably too weird.
But most of my life, I looked for other musicians and writers to tell me I was OK. That what I’d gone through in my life made me who I am. That my creations mattered and made sense. When really, the only musician/writer I needed validation from was right here. Inside me. Never alone. Always have my art.