Letter Box — Newsletter #36
A placemat marking the space
Please accept my modest contribution and these words in simple pen and ink. My elderly typewriter has passed on to greener pastures and of this date I haven't embraced the current technology!
I am here—
Jean Callahan Crowe
More journal entries for and about my son, age 2.
We had a rough night last night since you are having problems adjusting to life without a crib.
Interesting to note that we, in all likelihood, are the only animals that can daydream. This is probably because we are the only ones that are self-aware. Your father and I discussed that concept tonight and could not really define it Did you know that in the dictionary 'consciousness,' 'realization' and 'awareness' use each other as definitions? What a crock, language can be so useless when it runs right smack into the unexplainable. And that is definitely the category that self-awareness fits into. I think of it as knowledge that goes beyond the boundaries of that which can be experienced by the senses.
This centers on the idea that you know you exist in a concrete world and can assess your relationship to it and to the unseen dimensions of time and space. In short, you know fully well that you are an ant on an anthill, with incomprehensible but very real elements that exist beyond your scope, elements that would be crystal clear to beings with intellect superior to yours (what is a pencil to an ant after all? Non-food and that's it.) Humans aren't born with self awareness—by observing your growth I realize this. Newborns are bundles of instinct, only the recognitions necessary for survival are in place.
The world is a vague blurry thing, full of erratic fuzzy shapes, strange sounds and weird smells. Only slowly do babies discover their physical selves and eventually gain recognition of their surroundings. For a very long time there is existence without awareness—a fugue state that some return to if senility or dementia plague their twilight years. I wonder what it would be like to live a life like that, flowing through your appointed life span without acknowledging anything but instinct. And what would we be if we were reduce to only that? Intelligent but blank like computers? Hell bent on procreation like the ephemeral, mouthless Luna Moth? Fierce and vicious like hyenas? Gentle but helpless like rabbits? Thank whatever gods are out there that we will never have to find out.
Colorado Springs, CO
I wish I could get this poem to every fire fighter in the country. Unless one is personally involved in fire, we never really realize what these men and women do for us. Now, we are all personally involved.
Our country stands silent—
We have seen
Men and women—
How does one wrap
In this devastation—
Not a word is uttered.
You have not won—
Patricia Ann Doneson
Granite, shorn of its grasses,
A shale behemoth rises from cool blue,
Entropy foams at the edges,
I meander green kingdoms,
Sea thrift whispers feral tales
Poetry bolts, spills its wild seed
Some people are like that.
You compliment my scars.
Weekly, we meet
Let's review it again and again,
Santa Paula, CA
Thank you so much for the Creative Edge News. I especially appreciate and relate to the piece by Patty Waldin (NL 35). I can really feel what she's saying!
Carmel Valley, CA
Someone once asked me: "Why don't you draw something?" With a crayon I made a child-like rendering of a human figure. It did not lead to a burgeoning of expressive endeavor. I self diagnosed "artistic paralysis."
Nevertheless, soon after, I bought clay—the inexpensive, air-dry kind. It wasn't intimidating; things expressed themselves; all I did was squeeze. Some of the forms that emerged amazed me. This was definitely an easy entry for me through the creative portal.
Then I was invited to an art/movement class. I went, carrying my clay like a security blanket. As instructed, I worked with eyes closed, just moving the chalk or crayons over the paper, perhaps using both hands simultaneously. I might start with my non-dominant hand and finish with the other—a variety of tricks to entice the inner onto paper. It worked. I wrote my associations on the backs of the artwork using one hand and then the other. We danced our pictures or moved as the music or feeling impelled, and then did another picture. I began to trust and value the images and words, and I kept all of it because the teacher said: "It is a part of you."
One day I came across this poem dated five years earlier. I didn't remember writing it, but it had a hold on me for a couple weeks as I read it and recited it over and over. I reworked it only slightly, looking among old artwork for its origins. I found the forebears in these four pictures.
Humankind races on
The crystal egg hangs in space.
Carmel Valley, CA
I carry my own internal furnace,
Spontaneous combustion occurs
Just behind the heat
but, in truth,
I take Mound Meadow Trail out to the sea.
These tilted rock shelves
All along pathways
Thistle and wild rose co-exist
Fog cools contention
It's not your eminence I want,
I want your custom with words,
You came to your themes
It's not your academic attainments
I want your shift and pivot in a poem,
This is your gift,
Carmel Valley, CA
Had it not been for Creative Edge, Doree Bart, the retreat, etc., this little piece would not been published to arrive today—the exact anniversary of Mother's death, a year ago. You probably have no idea how much your open house and open heart fosters! Thank you!
At a creative arts retreat, I choose to make a mask. With a partner, one takes turns placing damp plaster over the face, waits for it to harden, then oneself spreads plaster over the form, sands it into softness of surface. Decorating options abound. My dear friend, Laura, places strip upon strip of warm tape over my face, eyeholes and breathing space carefully created. Tenderness, a gentleness of caring, as the layers build up. My prone position helps relaxation, which slowly becomes meditative. Today, I witness my trust to allow another to place a mask upon my skin. I relax tension gathered over the recent months of great stress.
After letting the mask dry and readying it for decoration, I intentionally pass by beads and feathers and wildness of possibility and am called to the delicate watercolors. I use a simple wash of aquas, gentle blues and pale browns, then leave the mask to fully dry again.
Upon returning, I carefully hold this creation upright. One large blue tear-like drop appears down the right cheek. I place the solid mask upon my face, look in the mirror and see the face of my mother, who died a few months ago. She rested in a coma as her face softened and held the glorious delicate paleness that preceded her journey for which she was prepared, yet left a tear in her wake.
(a two act play)
Glory, the hospice worker,
I, too. clumsy as a witness
My husband told me secrets:
I listened hard lest words slip out,
I stored, for winter, his dreams.
I embroidered in my mind,
House lights dim my reverie.
DOC Westville, IN
10/13/01: Thank you Creative Edge for encouraging me, for giving our thoughts a space to be seen. Thank you for the letters, x-mas cards, for remembering us when much of the world forgot. You folks are rather ingenious. By the friendship you have extended and the psychological support and comfort found over the years in your Newsletter, creatively you have taken a bite out of crime. Specifically, a criminal I am no more, this to both my own and society's benefit... And you dare to call yourselves a "Non-profit" organization? I'd say there's much more here than a pay check...
For anyone lost in the discordant worlds of addiction, or dependence... for those in our nation's institutions, I only hope they will be fortunate enough to discover the worlds of Art and Music, of Language and Expression to lead them from The abyss.
10/31/01: (Looking forward to my parole in Oct.) I'm faced with the reality I'm a 40 year old man with zero prospects and a degree worth less in the world of academia than the paper it is written on...
While I'm not suicidal, I am a bit stuck. That is I've not a clue where to go to look for employment and with 12 years served, the selection may be slim. Will music play a part? God, I wish it could, but I must face reality. Hell, nothing is as it appears and the more in tune I get with myself the more I realize you just live and play the hand you are dealt.
I would like to teach songwriting on a novice level, I've devised some very simple ways to use metered poetry to create music. if one can count syllables, one can write the words to a tune. ItÕs quite simple. IÕve done it in various groups in prisons for years.
12/28/01: My immediate goal is my Master's from Indiana University at Bloomington. After struggling through the likes of logic, biology, physics, astronomy, and Shakespeare, I am very glad to now have all my core courses fulfilled. I have nothing but electives remaining toward my major: Labor Studies.
Personally, I would hope to score a spot inside a union representing the underdogs, and acting as a full time benefits specialist. I would help members of unions plan their futures, and facilitate their retirement by advising them on auxiliary retirement plans beyond pensions, which would supplement their union subsistence. I look forward to my release... with eleven years of sobriety I am excited embracing freedom. The prospects look bright, and baring another economic depression, I'm confident employment in my field of study will be forthcoming...
DOC Huntsville, TX
7/21/01: Please find enclosed for possible printing a poem, "Just A Smile Away" which is about my spiritual path in Buddhism. Maybe it is O.K. for the newsletter.
Sorry for not writing sooner but I am going through some of the worst times of my life and I have to stay very "focused" to keep from slipping back into "self-destructive" behavior. My daily sitting meditation helps me to maintain my "cool" nature or should. I say "Buddha Nature." Humans are conditioned beings and in the past I have allowed myself to become aggressive... that was because I did not recognize fear for what it was. I let fear provoke me into violent acts/aggression. But I have learned to control myself.
As I follow my breathing
Appears I've taken the right
1/27/02: It is with great pleasure I must report our combined efforts have in fact landed me at the right place to attend Sam Huston State University. I think this is a step in the right direction. :-)
or WISDOM CALLING
This isn't a message in
When it seems out-of-control...
Chester Vinton HAAS III, #327322
Helena, MT I've appreciated continuing to receive The Creative Edge and stay relatively up-to-date on what all you're up to in the name of creative spirituality, or spiritual creativity. Another publication I appreciate very much is the quarterly magazine Spirituality and Health. You may already be familiar with it... I'm enclosed the current issue which I think you as a labyrinth lover among other things might find stimulating. Bob Holmes
Thank you for your creative offerings!
I invite readers to share their own creative works with a few words about the context of their work for either the new Letter Box On-line or regular hard copy version. I look for work and comments I feel support understanding and encouragement of the creative process, and hence, the process of life.
Submit your name, city and state with your works to Donald@creative-edge.org for publication. I also encourage you to approve adding your E-mail address. Submit images in 72dpi GIF, JPEG or TIFF format.