This has been a year of turmoil in our society, of people frustrated with the plight of other people, of coming face to face with our own desire to reach for a higher place of understanding and compassion for others while feeling divided. I often turn to books to try to understand my feelings. Reading myself in another person's story is often like seeing myself better in a mirror, the for better or worse of 'oh, that's who I really am,' and 'this is where i fit in', or 'these are the people I am connected to'.
I have felt a deep connection to this year's books, THE MORNING THE SUN WENT DOWN, by Darryl Wilson, THERE, THERE by Tommy Orange, CANYON DREAMS by Michael Powell, and then felt a much needed affirmation to do what I am excited by...my art and writing... in THE MOMENT OF LIFT by Melinda Gates.
Her book is about improving societies by improving women's lives, by looking at old rules and customs we have accepted as social mores, rules that tie people down. The book holds stories of the reasons we resist change and the ability we have to create change, to pull others into a a world of better choices and better health, both physical and mental, into a world where we are not afraid to reach up to the next person who may help us fly with our own ideas and dreams. It is also a trust that we will reach down to pull the next person into a better situation with us.
That 'moment of lift' she writes about happens when we have the exhilaration of transcending social or physical limitations ( a lack of wings on my part) and reach out to the act that gives us the feeling of reaching our full potential. For an artist and a writer, it is important to remember that feeling, to mark when we feel it and to do more that allows that full energy to come from us, to not question that sharing our thoughts and stories is the thing we are supposed to be doing with our time.
Periodically, books like Melinda's come along and make me wonder if I should be doing more volunteering, more donating, more of something to help those who are not as fortunate. While the answer is of course, yes, after some soul searching about what my purpose may be, I realized that my moment of lift comes when i create art and stories. it is the feeling I get when i hear the red-winged blackbirds calling in the wetlands around us while I am painting. While my body may not fly, their music fills me with energy and takes me to a higher place while I am painting outdoors. It is a feeling I can bring back into the studio to share.
I would love to hear your thoughts about Melinda Gates' book and also your experiences with your moments of lift.
If you would like to read earlier installments of Painting The Sky, you can find them here.