Tag Archives: art

Dirty Work

I need a shovel.
Someone get me a shovel.
Please, quickly, I’m begging you!
Get me a shovel!

Will anyone stop this relentless slinging of dirt?

Clawing at the walls with soiled nails. Suffocating from dust filled lungs. Tasting bitter, hand-sown layers of the purest, natural earth.

With my spade to the ground, I stamp my foot down and slice the blade through. My arms heavy with the weight of my burden, lift a shovel’s worth and toss it away. My calloused palms tighten their grip. I repeat: Stamp my foot, slice the surface, lift and toss.

I hear a hissing. “Your efforts are wasted.”

Stamp, slice, lift, toss…
I mop my forehead with a swipe of my arm.
Stamp, slice, lift, toss…

I hear the sound a second time. The s’s are drawn-out like a serpents coil just before striking. “Go ahead, dig faster. Your sweat will only turn the soil into mud.”

Stamp, slice, lift, toss…
My body aches with every exertion of my energy.
Stamp, slice, lift, toss…

The voice finds its way in, “What do you hope to unearth that hasn’t already been dredged up?”

Stamp my foot on the metal edge, slice the surface, lift and toss…
Stamp, slice, lift, toss…

“Foolish undertaking. The holes you dig will bury you.”

Stamp, slice, lift, toss…
Stamp, slice, lift, toss…

 

-CS

 

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Why Do I Write?

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Incredible, isn’t it—that we are able to explain what the mind imagines with a pen or keyboard? If you think about it, there is a hell of a lot of time and space between our brain and our fingertips. I like to think that extra distance is a gift. I’m able to express thoughts and ideas in a way I am not capable otherwise; streaming out the words one by one with clarity and conviction much like a fierce water current.

Often my writing serves as a form of therapy. My mind is a churning, boiling pot of thoughts and providing it with a point of focus allows steam to escape through to freedom. A break from the constant sloshing, I like how my writing seems to keep me in the present moment. Recently, I was introduced to a quote from Lao Tzu that says, “If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.”

Even if I’m writing about a memory from the past or an idea about the future, my brain chooses to focus on the words. I focus on the way in which I sew them together, the art of writing. And so I stay in my skin, in my body, in the chair I sit. In the moment. Focus for a busy brain is like the sensation felt after removing a heavy backpack from one’s shoulders: relief.

Writing is my friend, my colleague and my coach. It reminds me that I’m intelligent, thoughtful and authentic. It challenges me to be bold, to take chances, to be creative and to have a voice when my vocal chords fail me. It teaches me lessons about life, about others, about myself while bathing me in sunlight and pouring water down into my roots; forever supporting and encouraging my stalk to grow taller.

Writing gives me the opportunity to feel like I’m serving a greater purpose. If I fold my genuine, honest, passionate and love-filled work into a paper airplane and send it flying out into the universe, I feel that for the most part only good things can come from it. I aim to see it as I’m doing my part to spread good in the world no matter how small or insignificant I feel at times.

Happiness is found in the thrill of stringing the right words together to mean exactly what I’m thinking, in an artfully crafted fashion. It is in the smug smile brought to my mouth after using a word correctly based on its definition before I’ve checked it on dictionary.com. Happiness is in the eternal hope that another person may feel something from words on a page. From my words.

If you think about it, there is a hell of a lot of time and space between my words on a page and the brain of another human being. Incredible, isn’t it—the idea that my own creation could be the source of inspiration in another, given the distance?

 

-CS

Round One

I put my gloves on
They smell the same
Like layer upon layer
Of flesh and sweat
Frozen in time

Like the old me and the new me
Thrown in the ring together
Opponents of the rawest kind

I sit here rolling through the film
Imagining what it might be like
To punch through this wall

Instead I slump against it
I feel the impact
My head lulling forward
After it’s been knocked backward
I taste salt
Licking my freshly opened wounds

My breathing is labored
I suck in the air in front of me
I let the blows exhale
Inside a cloud of smoke

What’s it gonna be?
Will you stay down there
On your ass
Will you rise up
On your feet

 

The bell sounds again

-CS

 

 

 

To a Warrior, From a Warrior

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I can see with my eyes, the strength in your step, the soldier in your stature, the shine in your sword and shield.

I can hear with my ears, the conviction in your voice, the steady in your warrior cry.

What I cannot see, what I cannot hear is the greatest power you possess.

Do you know? Do you know that in order to conjure that power, you must first share your gift?

You must not be afraid to share it with the world.

The more you share it, the more it will spread. Your powers grow. And everyone touched by your glowing green magic will also grow.

The beauty in the warriors journey is the struggle.

Sharing your gift will not be easy, in fact, it may be the most monstrous enemy you face.

Consider this a challenge.

Show me: Make that which is invisible come to life in a blazing fire.

You must show me so that I may burn brightly too.

And like the sun and the moon, you and I fight to keep the world from darkness.

-CS

A Change in the Weather

Sitting on a park bench

An older gentleman sat down next to her on the park bench. She kept her eyes locked on the open book she had been reading, but she kept him in her peripheral sight. Instinctively she noticed the classic snow-grey, wool newsboy cap that was perched on top of his head. It covered the bare spots that his few remaining silvery wisps couldn’t reach anymore. She continued reading.

As she reached her hand out to turn the page, the man spoke. “You don’t see many young people with books in their hand. Goddamn cell phones are ruining the planet. Can’t even have a goddamn conversation with anyone I tell ya.” His hands moved as he talked, but he kept his gaze on the surface frozen pond that sat in front of them. The girl marked the page where she left off and closed her book. She paused to see if the man would go on. When it was apparent he had no more words, she cleared her throat and responded with what she had been thinking. “I like your hat very much.”

He smiled as he bowed his head down toward his feet.

“Do you mind if I ask where you got it?”

He turned toward her and rested his arm on the back ledge of the park bench. “How bout this, I’ll tell you where I got my hat, if you tell me what makes you happy.”

She looked at him, puzzled. “What do you mean?”

“Tell me what inspires you. What makes your bad days bearable, and your good days extraordinary? What makes your brain electric, your body alive and somehow manages to make the world stand still?”

The girl was awestruck. What should she say? A million thoughts swarmed the inside of her head, yet none could sting her tongue. After a few moments of silence the man kindly said, “I’ll go first.”

He told the girl that his hat had a previous owner and that it had just recently come into his possession. He described the previous owner as a self-important, greedy and high tempered nuisance that he had been cursed with knowing his entire life. Although his face gave nothing away, she could just barely detect a hint of fondness in the way he spoke. He explained how their discussions always ended in arguments, and months would pass without them speaking to one another, but he recalled, there was one instance that had been different.

The two of them were in their late twenty-somethings, both clueless, both trying to navigate the separate worlds they lived in. They met for coffee, and went on a walk through this very same park. He didn’t know if it was the bitter, winter chill that kept their mouths frozen, or if they feared once they started speaking, the peace might end. They stopped walking for a brief moment to watch the skaters on the nearby ice rink whoop and whirl around in circles, their cheeks rosy from the bustling excitement and the raw, arctic air.

She was the one to break the silence. “I thought things would be different. When we were children I would imagine my life, what it might look like, what I might look like…,” she trailed off. “It’s all wrong.” She was visibly unsettled, but more than that, she was somber.

“I feel the sun shines too bright for my eyes, the relentless wind blows my hair in every direction, cold rain soaks through to my skull. My mind is weathered.”

He didn’t know what to say, he had never been good with words when others were upset, especially when it was so unexpected. Certainly, he never expected this. He stayed quiet the remainder of their walk, if she minded, she never said so.

A few days later a package came in the mail. Upon opening the box, she found a handwritten note:

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Underneath the folded tissue paper there was a gift in the shape of a hat.

Years passed much like the ones that came before, neither that day in the park nor the gift were ever mentioned. In fact, he said to the girl he’d just met, he hadn’t given it much thought until a few days ago when a package appeared on his doorstep.

His twin sister, younger by mere minutes, had passed on no more than a month previous, leaving behind a piece of shimmering armor and a memory.

When the man finished his tale, the girl knew her answer. What she had known all along, but needed a reminder to melt the ice and let the words float to the free flowing surface.

“A good story,” she replied.

 

-CS

The Words I Never Said

There you are, stunned. Frozen to the very ground you stand on like a man made of snow who’s been left alone after all the cheerful, rosy-cheeked children have gone inside.

Muscles immobilized, heart or stomach (at that moment it’s uncertain which) beneath your feet, limbs hanging on by thin threads…

In the middle of a winter snow storm, everything stops.

The only sound is the silent, suffocating, choking on all the words that refuse to release themselves from your throat.

Have you been there?

Before any one clear thought or emotion can bubble itself to the surface, feeling as if you’re trapped inside a tumbling, swirling snow globe filled with a thousand emotions leaving you simultaneously nauseous and paralyzed…

I have.

In my circumstance, I was hurt by someone with whom I had shared a very close bond. When I had my last and final conversation with that person, I found that I was at a loss for words. Overwhelmed by shock, anger and grief it seemed the only words I could find were, “What happened?! Explain to me what happened!” I spewed them on repeat like I was an improperly programmed robot.

I replay that conversation in my mind over and over again until I feel sick to my stomach, haunted by the words I never said. I feel ashamed, I feel foolish. I feel smaller than a speck of glitter floating around the inside of that snow globe. I find myself wishing that I could have a do-over.

If I could push the reset button and my interaction was played out just as I wanted, would I feel better? Would that bring me peace?

For anyone who wishes they could go back in time and say the words that needed to be said, I can’t give you a time machine and I can’t bring you peace, but I can give you comfort and acceptance. Comfort in the knowledge that you are not alone, and acceptance from one who has endured the same method of torture. It doesn’t matter if it’s been 20 years since, or 20 minutes. Your words have infinite value. Your words matter because they matter to me.

I don’t know who you are or your individual situation, but I promise you, your words are precious stones. Not all those you encounter deserve to hang them on a chain around their neck.

-CS