Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Freedom is Another Word

Here's what I remember: We almost miss the winding gravel driveway leading up to the dream place - 60 acres of quiet open airy light. We pass an ancient building that makes us wonder if we have the right address. We're not really sure what we're in for, yet we're starved for it.

They live at the top of a hill in a perfect small contemporary rectangular box whose entire south wall is floor-to-ceiling windows. The kitchen is deliciously tiny with artisan pottery that on its underside may have fingerprints permanently embedded with fire and glaze. The uber-efficient washer and dryer are corner-stacked in a hidden closet beside only-essential clothing. The sleeping loft is cozy with handmade quilts piled on one mattress that's positioned perfectly beneath a low-angled ceiling. A black grand piano, on which both jazz and classical books lie open, looks out onto the garden space with sculpture, wildflowers, and vegetables that are beginning to fade in the North Carolina autumn sun. A giant pyramid trellis tall enough to walk under and through supports hefty vines that arch up and over, leaving gigantic squash to hang like Christmas ornaments.

All photos: here

They work in a larger building across the pine tree bordered yard. Rough-hewn wood and white rooms open to a two-story-tall communal space. There are more floor-to-ceiling windows, a humble kitchen, a sturdy long exposed staircase, a pottery room, upstairs bedrooms with skylights and tight-weave wool carpet, and a gigantic bathtub. A real fireplace calls for newly chopped wood, and a cozy sofa and chairs are piled nearby. On a grey and rainy day they come home, light a fire, get quiet and warm. The lights are dim. They hardly speak. Settling into a U-shaped workstation that's wide enough both can sit and type, each works independently on what's personally important.

For dinner, the daily menu doesn't change - meat, greens, quinoa - because planned simplicity leaves time and space to do the creative good work. TV is minimal unless it's about art, and work is left behind when they head to the house for true rest.

They want an artists' colony on this property with studios for others to do their work. Focused time and energy has been channeled into creating quiet but powerful personal, artistic, and environmental impact. Right now, it's the perfect setup for performances. People sit on the floor and on the staircase, close enough there is no separation between performer and audience. The invitees feel at home in more ways than one. We sell out here, similarly but different when compared to other venues, in ticket sales and almost in merchandise.

And I can't quite celebrate. We are tired and drained and tense. While everything about this place is a dream come true, I can't seem to fully enjoy it. Matters weigh heavy enough that life and light is being pressed right out of my being. This dichotomy hurts - I love it here, AND I'm reminded my own life is nothing like this.

One morning, while all are out, I learn no one will return until later that eve.

Suddenly I feel a rush through my veins. I'm here by myself. For hours. Left behind? Yes. Isn't that delicious?!? Absolute ELATION. I am ALONE. I can take up space, IN this space. I'm irritated that my legs cannot better support my thunder-running through the gardens and down the hills, cackle-laughing loud and wild, giddy as a child. The massive dogs are suspiciously quiet, at peace more than I've ever seen them. No other human is around to hear me. I want to cry. So much to explore, on my own time, in my own way.

How can I have more of this.
How can I have more of this.
How can I have more of this.

This level of elation might mean my recent history ratio of saying yes/no - more/less - has been very dangerously off.

I'm going to get more of this.

So many hours, days, years filled with worry and stress to the point of un-seeing.

When I get quiet like this I so much easier feel love.

It's possible - the getting closer. Not at all in an expected or preferred way. Who would have chosen this crazy roundabout path?

Who would have thought the art of late-night panic-planning and cramped power-pavement travel littered with snack-attack foodstuffs would lead to the art of passive solar light space, quiet moments, solitariness, undisturbed nature, and soft and steady creative flow? Who would have thought that systematic, electronic, sequined stardom would lead to unfurling, natural, communal impact? That externals would lead to internals? The black would lead to light? Noise to quiet? Chaos to rest?

Freedom is... an experience felt as our nature shines forth, unburdened, unattached... (Kate Potter)

A day suddenly becomes delicious. Freedom might be a split-second away - a flip of a switch, a bat of a lash, another run-step toward the light.

We don't know how optimum the path is until it's behind us. Often, despite everything, we arrive anyway.

Another imperfect post, accompanied by:
Trista Hill is a professional harpist and fine artist, creativity coach, educator in the arts, and Board-Certified Music Therapist. What her formal degrees in music and art gave her pale in comparsion to the gifts she's experienced in working with creatives just like you. Visit her website — tristahill.com — for links to her blog, performances, and other fantastical creative offerings. 

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