Lying on the Couch
Today I have felt guilty about not going into work early or staying extra, about my mother and not checking in with her about her doctor’s appointment, about coming home and lying on the couch and doing nothing, for eating a bagel smothered in cream cheese and jam, about deciding to not go to a protest rally this afternoon and instead go out to my studio, for putting sugar in my tea, for staying by myself and looking at artist calls and then making this list. It’s a lot. All of these choices felt onerous.
Here’s the thing though, the bagel was delicious and so far the world has not stopped because of my taking an afternoon to do what I want. What I need. Yet that double meaning? Lying on the couch, it’s accurate. I did lay on the couch and the dialogue about doing nothing – was a lie. I didn’t put it together till I started this list though. I was doing something and it’s important. I hesitate to type, ‘taking care of myself’ because it seems so overdone but there it is. I struggle all the time to do things outside of my responsibilities to my family, my partner, my job etc., etc., without feeling guilty. It’s ridiculous. When I first started thinking about this earlier in the year and working to oust the ‘shoulds’ from my thinking I pondered how to make work about it. How do you paint guilt? Self portraits looking sad? God help me. How about a still life of dirty dishes? No (it is kind of a cool idea now that I think about it), what came to me was that I needed the antithesis of guilt and that would have to be joy. Celebration. We need more, not less of these things. And so the idea to do a series of paintings of cake was born. I want to stop with the thoughts of what I haven’t done or what I should be doing and instead feel joyousness. This is what I plan to do with my one wild and precious life.
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?