Sunday, November 19, 2017

I Light a Candle

I light a candle.

I light a candle with a violent abrasive scratch of sand on powdered glass, a ripping open of the dark, a hissing expletive, a tearing of What Is.

I light a candle because light is older than time.

I light a candle because fake luminescence will not cut it. I need the very human experience of directing light, by my own hand, more than finger-swiping.

I need the acknowledgement and reminder that what I'm about to do could destroy everything if not handled carefully, correctly, intentionally.

I light a candle because my heart is sick and weighted yet wanting to take flight straight out of my chest.

I light a candle because I'm wondering yet again and always about art and vulnerability and the mere act of being and living in a world rife with insatiable need and hunger and pain. I'm up in the dark not knowing what to do or say anymore - all is cliche yet constipated.

I light a candle because the other day I wrote a long list of names of those who have throughout my life violated my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual boundaries and I'm still blaming myself for not having drawn the line. I wrote these names to see what it felt like to bring them to the surface, like others before me. I wrote this list to exorcize. To let go, again, because I thought I already had. Because I want to be free - I want us to feel free.

I light a candle because I fantasize about burning them. The names. Or the people who have so carelessly burnt in the past, like the man in the mall years ago who unwittingly and unconsciously held his cigarette out in way that left round button scars of searing smoking flesh on innocents who came too close.

I light a candle to illuminate the list of names of those lightworkers who are pushing archaic parameters in our present day and time; not just pushing them, but pushing them DOWN.

I light a candle because flame is alive, and we are alive in this moment as much as some of us don't want to be.

I light a candle to light a way. A path toward the belief that understanding is possible even while it's entirely possible that we can't and won't ever understand.

I light a candle for me and anyone else whose desire to live by example and to practice a new way of being outweighs the crystalline reality that we don't know what the fucking hell we are doing.

Because we cannot undo centuries of wrong. At least not in our lifetime. But we must set the foundation for the shift, even if we won't be around for the change we're dreaming of. This is on our watch. Our hands are on the wheel of that rudder. Pretending they're not is nothing short of stupid, selfish, ignorant, and fascist.

I light a candle because I get tired of being kind. Patient. Tolerant. Careful. Nice.

I light a candle because there are times I want to burn it all down to the fucking ground. Because I want to strip down and paint my face with my own blood and spin and wheel and careen around that pyre to tear out, release and annihilate the wretched age-old shame-pain in my gut, mind, soul.

Because my and others' pollyanna light-holding rose-glasses whine-ass plaintive grasps at "doing and being better" are starting to bore me. Annoy. Aggravate. Incite. Inflame.

I light a candle because there is something more, deeper. Because the festering is starting to poison. Because an eruption is inevitable, is already happening. Strap on the goggles, this shit is real.

I light a candle because I'm feeling the cold bracing wave deep in my brittle human bones that there is no time to waste. That everything is flammable. That we must take care AND we must scream.

I light the fucking match.

*   *   *

Art as metaphor, instigator, inciter:

Amanda Palmer's video cover of Pink Floyd's "Mother"

Bjork's crystalline prismatic explosive fluid opening in "The Gate"

Yaa Gyasi's exploration of generational atrocity via multi-level enslavement in Homegoing

Ta-Nehisi Coates' honest discussion and interview about hope or lack of it with Krista Tippett

*   *   *

Monday, March 06, 2017

Church of the Running Water

On most Sundays I would make every effort to go to church. MY church.

Though initially deathly afraid of quicksand upon moving from Colorado as a child - a fear I gained while sitting in Grandma Ruby's lap as we watched a cowboy in an Old Western film die in it - I made swift friends with the Ohio land when we finally settled there. A stream wound its way through the back edge of our six acres, and I assigned myself as its keeper. Sunday mornings were the days to do this work, alone. Occasionally I was accompanied by our dog Sheba if she wasn't in the barking mood, and if she was, in the house she was left. 

It would inevitably rain, bringing out the scents of wet leaves and rich earth. I watched the water and gauged its swiftness, and if wearing Mom or Dad's too-big moon boots, I'd carefully cross it to reach the repeat-trek path on the other side.

​The edges of the stream crunched in fragile shale, and if I gingerly stepped and cautiously moved small stones in the cold water without stirring up sediment, I could find crawdads, almost transparent in their newness. I carried a large stick with me, and used it not to climb steep slopes, but to dislodge mounds of rust-leaf and black-stick natural debris that had collected in pockets of the stream. 

It was very important to me to allow the Rushing Forward, to assist the Clearing, to invite the Clarity, to remove the Holding Back. 

​Hours were spent in the woods, writing / singing a song or concocting a story while straddling a large log slippery with moss, or carving into the hillside a boot-wide toehold, or looking for small fish or worms or ants or mice. The sound of the water was music. I had names for areas of the stream where it had carved out round-sided pools, where it crashed mightily in tiny waterfalls, where it moved slowly enough you could see through to the multi-colored wonder of its bed-pebbles. I knew the stream like the back of my hand, and rounding every turn brought sheer delight, every time. I'd watch for gnomes. I'd listen for fairies. I'd delay going back home, inviting anything that would help me anchor myself in my middle-and-high school chaos. A place to heal. This, my sacred space. My church. Where I felt at home, connected, at one with Something.

That house is gone now. 
It was bulldozed just over a week ago.  
The land has been cleared and terraformed. 
I will never see that stream again. 
I can never go back.
The end of an era.

We find our refuge. 
And we find it again. 
A new era, whether we like it or not.

How will we step in?


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 — — for links to her monthly letter, blog, listening library & compositions, performances, and offerings to further you along your own glorious creative journey.  

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Gypsy and the Poet

"YOU!!!!" he bellowed. "It's YOU!! The Gypsy! There she is!! The GYPSY!!!"

Suddenly he is high-powered sprinting toward me from down the long white corridor, a slim giant of a man with a beautiful bald dark shining head, huge wide black eyes, long arms and fingers extended in my direction, leaning out and over his own powerful churning legs. 


I stand riveted - young pale Trista in a bright pure red blouse, midnight blue pants, bright red shoes, and long black hair trailing down my back. The door is locked behind me and my key card will not allow me to quickly exit. Beside me is my charge, a scared-out-of-her-mind junior intern, looking to me for direction, hoarse-whispering my name with a questioning lilt. I feel responsible, I feel charged, I feel judged, I feel caught. 

There is no record of this incident in my journal. Details were not carefully notated. Feelings were not processed, at least not on paper. 

But it is emblazoned in my memory. I remember how it felt to literally have my back against the wall without an outlet for escape. How it felt to out-of-habit assess what I had done to trigger an attack, to quickly question what part of my femininity had threatened yet another man. How it felt to have to make a split-second decision to assure the safety of myself and others. How it felt to not know what to do, when there's no time to differentiate right from wrong. I remember how it felt to be in survival mode. How it felt to meet his eyes and not know our immediate and future fate.

I remember how it felt to watch strong orderlies in white rush out of side rooms and fling themselves on him from either side, holding him down and back. I remember the look in his eyes, full of fury and passion, when they dragged him away. I remember both the relief and shame I felt for having witnessed a takedown, how it felt to watch someone else in survival mode. How it felt to have Blame hang empty in the room without a resting place. How it felt to learn later that he was a famous poet struggling with a schizophrenic episode on a locked ward in the corner of a dirty city - a highly intelligent genius with broad sweeping vision, a man who is loving, creative, kind, beautiful.

I'm thinking a lot about misperceptions. How important it is to not jump to conclusions. To question everything. To suss out the truth.

I'm thinking a lot about how much we don't know about each other. How much we think we do, because for generations and generations and generations, people we've never known, over vast swaths of space and time, have unwillingly passed down to us their own fears, traumas, biases, and unexplored "truths".

It's time for a reckoning, say the Gypsy and the Poet.

 Are you ready?

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 — — for links to her monthly letter, blog, listening library & compositions, performances, and offerings to further you along your own glorious creative journey.