Sunday, July 1, 2018

Summertime Somnolence

Hello, dear readers. We're knee-deep in summer heat now in Maryland and it looks like many others across the east coast are experiencing the same. I think it's too soon to call it the dog days of summer, but it sure feels like what I've always come to associate with that term: long days of oppressive heat and accompanying somnolence (if you let it).

First tomato of the summer: a delightful yellow pear
I have some more interviews coming up over the next few months so stay tuned if you're foaming at the mouth for more veterinary creativity. Until then, my garden is flourishing with color and tomato plants that defy the orderly staking process and therefore have arms that are reaching out for salvation.

In some of the quiet spaces I've found over the past few weeks (still healing a collarbone that had the nerve to break at the end of April), I've tried to nurse some creativity and have fallen short. Instead, I've been prey to lots of distractions -- some good, as I've been reading plenty -- that sap my desire right out of me.

However, I've come across an excellent quote form Mary Oliver (which is redundant as all her quotes, by definition, are excellent) that has kicked me in the pants when I needed it the most:
"The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time." -- Mary Oliver
Volunteer sunflower from dropped birdseed. An unexpected delight.
I don't know which part about that declaration I like the best -- the bit about creativity needing "power" or it needing "time" -- but the time part in particular speaks to my core. As a heavily Type A personality, I get very caught up in to-do lists and place an overemphasis on productivity with a resultant feeling of despair if something (or far too often, many somethings) doesn't get accomplished. The fact that creative juices need time to marinate and that this time is not only OK but necessary, is such a relief. It's like giving myself permission to take the time to think, all the time I need.

I came across another quote recently that emphasized this concept of taking time, but under a different context. In November 1958, John Steinbeck's son, who was away at boarding school, wrote his father about falling in love. Steinbeck wrote back a lovely, thoughtful, empathetic response but it was the ending that spoke to me and even though it was in reference to love, I'm going to take the liberty to apply to many other things in life, like creativity:

"And don't worry about losing. If it is right, it happens -- the main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away." -- John Steinbeck

That declarative "nothing good gets away" might be overly-romantic but my gods doesn't it feel freeing? To know that if there's really something there (love, an idea, whatever -- again, I'm extrapolating) then baby, it's there. I just like the feel of that.

An explosion of lilies in the front yard -- my own fireworks show.
And, here's another one from Mary Oliver. This quote is in full view in my office: "Things take the time they take. Don't worry."

But I also have to laugh. I just finished a collection of Ursula Le Guin's blogs, No Time to Spare. It's a joy to read as her voice shines through in all its clarity and down-to-earthness. It's a comfort. But her message (granted this was written when she was in her 80s and perhaps feeling fatalistic) was focused on dwindling time. No time to spare. Get it done. Hurry. Life is short. Make your mark.

What to do when your heroes are telling you opposing things!?

I'll have to go ponder that in my garden.

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