SRAOC #6 Grace And Gratitude

Small Rebellious Acts of Creativity (#SRAOC) is a weekly invitation to explore a word, or phrase, through whichever creative avenue, platform or modality the participant wishes. It is intended to be a philosophical or creative catalyst moreso than a straight up writing prompt.

This week’s prompt was: Grace and Gratitude

ADAM

The idea of grace and gratitude has always been a fundamental aspect of character for me. It is a spiritual discipline, one easy to start but difficult to master and be consistent with. The tendency to fall into complaining mode is strong. To focus on what we can be thankful for is too easy to dismiss.

It is a contemplative spirit that seeks understanding and strength beyond itself.

Music that encapsulates this for me is from solo bass performer Steve Lawson. His 2004 album, Grace and Gratitude, is a spiritual refuge for me musically and aesthetically. He samples and loops his bass guitar in sonic landscapes and has been a constant companion when I am writing.

This is my favourite track from the album, Despite My Worst Intentions. Have a listen. The whole album is an aural hug and meditative journey.

Below is a live recording so you can see how he does it from one of his house concerts. I wish I could attend one if I lived in England.

This is the title track from the album, recorded for Bass Player magazine. It is a beautiful piece of music.

RUS

Sometimes, the lessons of grace and gratitude come at the least expected moments.

Earlier this week, I found myself in a situation where I needed to have a tough conversation with about seven of my students. Due to some sloppy editing, we had published some material online that was never meant to be shared with a larger audience. It wasn’t anything that put another person in jeopardy; it was just information that we cut from the article for the purposes of developing and refining the angle. It was sloppy, and none of us liked the message it gave to our readers.

After I had shared my concerns, I asked the students, one by one, if they had anything to add. Beyond a few mumbled apologies, there was nothing anybody wanted to say.

Until we reached Natalie.

Now, Natalie is our copy editor, and a darn good one. She’s quiet, but confident. Her contributions to the team have been largely made with a red marking pen.

When it was Natalie’s turn to speak, she let us have it. She reminded us that we had lost our desire to have “fun” while still working to the best of our abilities. In a matter of seconds, she had turned a shaming into an inspiring moment about what our team is all about, and what has brought us together this entire year.

Since then, our team has had a more positive energy, and our production has markedly improved. All thanks to Natalie and her graceful words of optimism and inspiration.

The next day, the editors and I made her a card to express our gratitude. What goes around comes around, and we put our creative talents to work to recognize just how thankful we were (and are) for her speaking up and showing us the way back to enjoying our work.

So here’s to you, Natalie, and all of you who have the courage to speak up. we are grateful for your words…and you!

JODI

Serendipity found me on Monday morning. Grace is not a word I come across a lot when making cut-up poetry, but there it was, the day after pulling the prompt. Gratitude  often arrives most powerfully in the small moments of life.

Small Rebellious Acts of Creativity #5

Small Rebellious Acts of Creativity (#SRAOC) is a weekly invitation to explore a word, or phrase, through whichever creative avenue, platform or modality the participant wishes. It is intended to be a philosophical or creative catalyst moreso than a straight up writing prompt.

Small

Make it accessible for yourself. Easeful. Invite yourself into a place and a space free from the pressure of overwhelm. Pressure to perform. Keep it simple. Small is not subjugation. Small is not less than. Small carries a power all of its own. Gift yourself 5 minutes. Sometimes it doesn’t need to be anything more.

Rebellious

Rebel against apathy, procrastination, perfection, self contempt, self doubt, lack of confidence, lack of time, other people’s antagonism, lack of belief, the voice of the inner critic, and anything else that wants to tell you ‘no’. Flip the bird at your Imposter Complex. Interrogate. Innovate. Initiate. This is a space for saying yes.

Act Of

Do. Doable. Doing. Done. Even if it’s five bed-headed minutes, on a Wednesday morning, with your first infusion of caffeine for the day, tapping a list of ten things into your phone. Make a space. Fill it.

Creativity

Make something from nothing. Anything. The possibilities are endless. Draw. Paint. Build. Dance in the shower. Play. Howl. Doodle. Bake. Cut up poetry. Block out text. Collage magazine pictures. Snap a photograph. Garden. Read something aloud. Send someone a card. Make a digital mash-up. Create a playlist. Hum a song. Journal. Daybook. Write a list. Instagram a favourite quote. Play the instrument you have buried away in your cupboard.

This week’s invitation is…

We will be back Sunday to share our meanderings and renderings and to see where ‘the strength in fragility’ took you during the week.

SRAOC #2: Mortal Scorch

Small Rebellious Acts of Creativity #sraoc is a weekly invitation to explore a word, or a phrase, through whichever creative avenue, platform or modality the participant wishes. It is intended to be a philosophical or creative catalyst moreso than a straight up writing prompt.

JODI

it came through my skin
like emotional Morse code
translating the SOS from my heart
into pustules on my skin

but there is no
secret message to be found
in the Braille of my pain
through your fingers tips

this is the mortal immolation
of who I once was
and you as the scorch of memory
my body is trying to erase

ADAM

bravery is bullshit

multiple myeloma 
     a confrontation between cancer and 
the inevitability of mortality
     my mother-in-law
          almost three years gone
medicine that kills her just enough 
     to keep her alive a few more days*
          a ravaged body
robbed of days and sunrises
and sunsets and moments with grandchildren
     I doubt I’d be so brave;
          I’d be too fucking scared

* with acknowledgement to Luka Lesson’s poem “Antidote”

SRAOC #1: The Way Home

Small Rebellious Acts of Creativity #sraoc is a weekly invitation to explore a word, or a phrase, through whichever creative avenue, platform or modality the participant wishes. It is intended to be a philosophical or creative catalyst moreso than a straight up writing prompt.

FROM JODI

I began with home as an acronym, googling to find a computer term for something beginning with ‘e’ and worked from there. I wanted to splice stills of The Wizard of Oz (there’s no place like home) with photos of the houses I had lived in as a kid but that came to a messy end on the very first day when I was unable to find a photo of one of the houses. What is mashed into Dorothy are interior shots from our home in Cairns which I accessed online. I lived there from Jan 1989 – Feb 1990. The house was fortuitously vacant when they were taken.

I have aphantasia and have no visual recall. I have long said that my memories are more like a data log or a ship’s log. In the future this might be how I find my way home.

PLEASE NOTE: each slide is set to 25 seconds and you may need to pause to get through all the words.

FROM ADAM

I’m coming off the back end of a rather tumultuous week, one that has left me drained physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually, and the prompt was a glossolalia throughout. 

Towards the end of the week when things had settled down a little, I tapped into small acts of creativity unrelated to the prompt. However, on reflection, each of the acts of creativity were echoes of what it is I want to be doing, and being. Writing, drawing, playing drums; all of these are physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually fulfilling for me. Even five minutes sitting down at my drum set to play simple rudiments (single strokes RLRL RLRL, double strokes RRLL RRLL or paradiddles RLRR LRLL) can be a meditation, a prayer, a solemn act of recognising myself and my spirituality in regards to creativity. 

This is the way home.

 

FROM RUS

A few days after my mother died in May 2007, I missed the powerful words of Georgia Heard, our keynote that I had scheduled for one of my conferences on creative nonfiction. Her book, Writing Toward Home, had made such a profound difference in my life, and in the lives of my students (I still use the book today in my university courses in writing).
The irony was not lost on me that day.
Since then, the concept of “home” has always been important to me, returning to the origins of who we are.
A few days ago, I stopped by the cemetery in a moment of wandering and wondering.
Writing this poem afterward helped me rediscover the way home….

 Homeward Dig

The mud just dried on my tired black shoes,
Scuffed from the bustle of life that has carried me far from home.
My retreads are flat, and yet the mud still clings to the worn lines that define
My weary travels.

I brush the sole and wipe away the dirt,
Thinking of simpler days, where
The What-ifs were enough,
Hour upon hour on the water
Cherishing the subtle ripples of origins unknown.

Now Here: I step over the deep tracks in the mud,
Holes in the ground freshly dug
As I seek out the graves
Of my dead dad and mom.

Is this the way home?
To stand on the turned soil
That sealed their graves
And Meditate on the mortality
Of a life half-lived?

I gather and roll the dirt in my hands
Mold a maleable pebble
Warm to the touch.

But ask me to mold this life
Into any simplistic variation of the past,
And the dirt dries,
A powder sifting through my fingers
As quickly as my sands fall in this life’s hourglass.

The undertaker appears and asks if I have lost my way.
He is warm, maleable, a shapeshifter with the dirt.
A simple nod from me, and he will lead me to their home.

But not my own.

I cannot find my way there by way of grave
Or by pictures’ past.

In this present moment,
Wondering what’s next, yearning for what was,
I think I am lost,
But I am home.
In the moment I am always
Only
Ever
Home.