How often do we stray from ourselves in pursuit of survival for ourselves? How often do we do things that put bread on our tables, but don’t truly feed us?

Transcript and notes:

straying from my roots

Recorded 1 March 2023.


Sometimes- often- I stray from my roots.

I stray from my roots, because I have been told over and over again that there's no money in creativity. That that's not a proper living.

I recently rewatched "Better Than Chocolate," which is a 1999 lesbian, romantic comedy. It was revolutionary for its time. And every single piece of the 1990s is in there, screwed down tight. It's perfect. It's hard. It's real.

In it, our main character, Margaret's, mother shows up rather unexpectedly, to crash in her apartment for an unspecified period of time. And while she's there, Margaret says that she's quit University and will potentially try writing. And her mother, who tried opera and then left it to be a homemaker, says "Margaret, there is no money in the arts, you will need to have a backup plan."

Can I tell you how often I have heard that? I heard it so often that even though I got really good at resisting most of what was around me, I did not manage to resist that one. And I have, if truth be told, spent the remainder of my life trying to get back to my roots.

But I keep straying again and again. That plow blade comes down between me and where I'm going. Leaves an icy berm of snow and mud, detritus, scrapings from the road. But it means that I keep forgetting to make poems. I never thought I could forget to make poems. But the fact is the work piles up. The nerves pile up. I've even sold paintings, but I've never sold a poem.

So they just keep coming, the things that I should be doing to make a living. And the things that I am most close to fall away. Like so many things this both is and isn't a metaphor. How often do we stray from ourselves in pursuit of survival for ourselves?

We're trying to stay alive. We're trying to keep existing, we're trying to hold our space. And so we let go of something we have to let go of something. But we can't tell the difference between the life raft and the shark. And we cling to the shark and it swims away.

Perhaps it doesn't eat us. If we're on its back, it can't eat us. But it is not feeding us either.