(A couple of years ago, I awoke one morning hearing: Teach people to feed themselves. I found this strange, yet as time’s passed and encounters have fed me, I find that message not so odd after all. Here’s what happened recently in the form of a story that will continue to take form.)
This weekend while sitting outside I looked up and noticed a tiny bird, a sparrow I suspected, at the feeder eating. Other birds would come and go yet this one remained.
I watched. It stayed. Something was different as to its position. I neared not wanting to cause alarm and realized it had pushed just a bit too far into the feeder and was stuck. I found a pair of gloves and opened the lid. A little eye looked up at me. With one finger I gave its little bird head a nudge. The bird flew away and I realized how it had gotten stuck.
What little seed remained had been pushed away from the front toward the back of the feeder’s opening. The bird was just trying to reach the food. I filled the feeder then from my chair watched birds crowd around like people lined up at troughs, breakfast lunch and dinner bars, across America. I wonder if folks who frequent food bars have a deep awareness for the specifics of what they're eating and the behavior in which they’re engaged or are they on some deeper level like the sparrow just trying to get fed, fearing food will go away.
I then promptly went on a binge myself starting at the Belcourt with a Noon movie about Yves St. Laurent. Although I'm not a fashionista, I was quickly taken with this man's creative genius, the bond between him and his business and life partner and the art they collected over 20 years. I fed on beauty and creativity through film.
Then I went to Watkins to see "Handmade and Bound" (on view through Oct. at Metro Center) an exhibit of handmade books, discovered zines which I didn't know existed and bookmakers, men and women making new books from the covers of old books and repurposed leather. One young woman made books with etched wooden covers while another made miniature book necklaces. I fed on creativity while discovering the new and the old becoming new.
Then I ventured downtown to the Symphony Hall for chamber music, trombones, the youth symphony, and Nashville in Harmony before walking to Fifth Avenue to revisit paintings and photos from the night prior. I fed on bites of sound and color.
By the time I returned home nearly 12 hours later I wondered if he hand of the Muse should have pushed my head from the trough, from the feeder of creativity a little sooner.
I wasn’t numb nor like folks after holiday meals who complain of having over eaten but I did wonder: What just happened as I fed and fed and fed? Did I need Art AA?
I reminded myself not just of those at food bars, but of people who shop and shop then have to rent storage units to store their stuff. I’m not a shopper or a big eater. I collect experience yet if I'm not fully engaged in the experiences I'm having I’m no different from many lined up at food bars or renting storage units - buying, eating and stuffing my body as a bin.
The phrase ‘History repeats itself’ is attributed in various forms to different people. I know personally I’ve judge how we collectively repeat history on the big plane, different players, similar story lines of unconsciousness, greed and the haves versus the have-nots, trying to control and reacting in fear. Yet if in my personal script I’m going through the motions and not fully taking in life’s moments then I’m like the sparrow eating from life’s feeder afraid seeds of experience are running out.
As I’ve reflected on that day, I’ve remembered my heart opened by a movie as well as the sense of home I felt seeing the French countryside. My insides were moved hearing trombone players fill a room with sounds evoking rich dark chocolate and old growth redwood forests. I was inspired and held hope hearing “One by One” a Zulu song sung by Nashville’s only GLBT choir as well as the young musicians making up Metro’s Youth Symphony. And I was physically drawn to a painting by Tony Breuer titled “A Crack in Earth: New Openings” of ghost horses emerging from blacks and blues to oranges and yellows.
In memory I was re-fed the beauty of creativity through music, voice, color, story and texture.
Learning about being fed has taken time, awareness and curiosity. I suspect I arrived here like most kids with the knowledge of how it is to feel and fill. I was nourished while playing in the woods and being out doors, while creating or sitting in the floor of the small elementary school library repeatedly reading books of poetry referencing nature.
Then I neglected the feeding and feeling of my insides partially because it was too painful to tend within. Gradually I forgot how and in turn forgot this Self.
Self-Feeding 101 wasn’t offered in school. School involved learning from the external, the teacher, not ones’ insides or an inner authority. (Having been a teacher for two years in what seems like another lifetime, I’m embarrassed to admit I didn’t teach students to think for themselves.)
Forgetting how to listen within I didn’t realize I was hungry or reaching for something like the bird at the feeder. Actually I forgot life was a feeder from which to feed. I didn’t know I was remembering how to fill and feel until it was happening. I began to listen, to recognize energy in my body, moving energy responding to the external playing upon my senses. I began to let myself feel, to cry with joy and sorrow when moved by music or a moment. I began to listen to the sensations evoked by smelling rosemary growing by the door, noticing the sun’s path across the sky, hearing the wren before daybreak and at dusk, stopping to watch the tiny owl that perched outside my window just after 5:00 every afternoon as winter arrived one year. I learned to be fed, to fill and feel, by paying attention to my inner experience as teacher.
Having been asleep through so much of my life, I suspect on Saturday I gobbled up art-related experiences while making up for lost time. That’s not necessarily bad.
What I’m certain of for now is in this season of harvest, there is a parallel creative harvest of which to partake. How profoundly beautiful is that? Earth is an artist as are people teaching us how to be filled and feel, acquainting us with our insides, with the soul and what deeply satisfies. What I am certain of for now is as long as I’m awake within, life’s feeder will never run out of experience. (You can feast on experience too by clicking on links above for info on music, art and more.)
-Dawn, The Good News Muse 6 October 2011