Little Pink Spoon #5 from The Wheel of Creativity
Outside school, my mother ensured that I was exposed to all the traditional art forms. There I dared to dream, to explore, to reach out for something more. My introduction to creativity was learning-how rather than listening-to.
There were lessons for everything, starting at age six. There was dance—ballet, tumbling and tap—which I adored but did not continue. There were piano lessons with Mrs. Clark—strict, academic and constricted—and the terrible stage fright at every recital, which I am finally mastering today. There were painting lessons, and private voice lessons as well, as it seemed I was gifted in this area.
Outside school as well, what began as a delightful dream soon deteriorated into work and fear. I could only envy the pleasure of friends who played piano by ear at our parties. I stopped studying piano when I was 12, and I always regretted it. I avoided dance again until my 40s, when I discovered Gabrielle Roth’s 5Rhythms. I never painted again. I learned to plant the seeds of work and pleasure in separate gardens.
The one place in my life where pleasure and work flowed together was on the back of a horse. With all my other pursuits, I could go through the motions in my head; but I had to be in my body to stay in the saddle. Those strong Arabian spirits settled me down, and I was passionate for them. Horses gave me my first physical experience of an unseen force that flowed through all living things, connecting us to each other. Deep within I knew that this force was truer, stronger and more important than anything I was learning in school.
God Gets a Box
One Sunday morning, when I was 11, I felt this force in a new way, like a knock at a door deep inside me that I hadn’t known was there. I responded in the way it was done there at South Main Baptist Church: I left my pew and walked the long aisle to the front where, met by the preacher I was guided to ask Jesus to be my Lord and Savior.
In that moment, I stepped into the box where others would define that unseen force for me. What the Wachowski brothers called The Matrix, I call the box.
Stay in the box. Out of the box. Boxed in. Boxed out. Boxed. Boxing. Bach’s teeth. Box of chocolates. Boxer. Box your ears. Boxes. Make you feel good. Make you feel bad. We love ‘em, hate ‘em. Box and forth we go. Small package. Container. Someone who hits someone else. Put you in your place. The champion. Heavy weight. Light weight. Welter weight. Bloody. Saving young boys. We love our boxes, don’t we? Names. Categories. Diagnoses. Prognoses. Tell me where I’m going, who I am, what I will and can and won’t and can’t do. Tea leaves. Tarot cards. Capricorn or Aries. Black or white. “Aah! I understand now.” Crimes are committed in the name of fill-in-the-blank (usually some form of moral God). God-box. Boxymoron. Small and smaller. Tempest in a teacup. God in a box. Foolish one. Feels so good for a time. Takes so long to learn.
I was a good learner, and all my questions found answers there, for a while. From the innocent awakening of my young heart, I was taught to have the answer for the rest of the world. I was taught to be right. In the context of what felt to me like loving and caring, I learned fundamentalism. But along the way I misplaced my direct connection with the unseen force that had called to me in the first place, the force that was flowing through me all the time.
For the next 10 years, Southern Baptist Christianity would be the only box I knew. Eventually, that box became my launching pad. Life’s journey has led me far from the shores of that safe haven and back, beyond the box to the unseen force beyond definitions, back to myself.
Q: Do you remember the first time you became aware of the force of life flowing through you? What kind of box were you given to contain it?
Continued next Monday…
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