to inform

when i am listening to someone talk about art, and they begin to tell me what informs the painting, i feel my heart pick up the pace. this question of where does it come from always motivates me to look deeper, to press in. i begin by noticing all of these elements that i had missed previously and suddenly, this art is no longer just in front of me, but rather is it is in and through me and we are cut from the same dna.

i have been pondering this today. what informs my life? from where do i derive my energy or strength? what are the influences which lead me to believe one thing or another? this question of what informs my life is complicated.

motherhood has informed much of my adult life. perhaps only for certain seasons, like now, in which i find myself slightly sleep deprived with an achy back. in other seasons, it was my friends: long talks into the night, walking to the grocery store in the snow, or crying through movies. those places where the air is actually thin and as the celts believed, the divine peeks through. most days, being awake to the vast needs of marginalized people is more than enough to inform my life.

and whether or not i like it, pain informs much of my life and the lives of everyone i know. and humans have a great capacity for running away from pain, from avoiding anything that we see as negative.

as i thought about what informs my life today, i realized that even after all this time, i am prone to try and avoid pain. maybe i always will try. but now, i can see in my life, more than ever before, what beautiful and fierce works of art that are made when i allow pain to season and develop my life. the pain digs and carves inside me, and then those holes become cisterns and wells to be filled with divine compassion and love. compassion that otherwise would not exist.

on the days when i forget what those cisterns are for, i try to fill them with anything i can.

but today, i remember why they are there and their role of informing my life. and then i wait for each one to fill.

my boss swears that one day i will write a really good book. we’ll see. maybe by the time i am ready to write it, everyone’s cisterns will be old news.


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