There are days, lots of them, when things seem so much harder than they need to be, and then I am reminded of how much worse some people have it and against all odds they remain optimistic, positive, and deeply enamored of life. We all have moods and difficulties, even tormentors sometimes, and we all know that our only choice in the matter is how we respond to it. But some days, everyone but me seems to know the way.

For me, the last couple of years have been filled with my husband’s medical needs, trying to build a new house when we can only work a couple hours at a time, and just keeping my head and heart above water. While we’re not out of the woods yet, things are looking up enough that I can consider being creative again. Something I miss with all my soul.

So, I’m out driving through our rural neighborhood, getting all my little chores and errands done, and I’m sort of sinking, a slow, sashaying-fall-in-a-downward-spiral-direction, melting emotionally into a sort of pitying backwash of self-defeat. The Grown Up voices in my head are murmuring and hissing lightly in the background. “Too old to start something new, don’t have the energy anymore, nobody cares anyway, why write another book if you didn’t have huge instant success the first seven times,” ad nauseam.

So to cheer myself up and activate at least my cooking creativity, I pull into the little farm stand that I love to frequent. It’s spring so all the starter plants are out, neatly stacked on tilted racks in tiny pots, every herb and tomato and organic veggie that you can think of. I love having a garden, but right now my ‘yard’ is a cross between a construction holding yard and a trash heap. Blackberries bushes have taken over all of the 2 acres of open space, and the trees are thick on the other 6. Two shipping containers hold tools, things we haven’t unpacked, furniture we won’t use in this house, a 32′ by 18′ tent covers the work area in front of the home so that we can at lease get the saws and lumber out of the living space. There are tires that people threw down in our gully, my husbands tractor presides over it all and there just isn’t time to make a garden.

I sigh, choose a few herbs to plant in pots, leave my money in the honor system box and head back to the car, all the while thinking of the years I spent making houses beautiful, perfecting gardens, sweating and weeding and watering, and now, at 64, I face about eight acres of rock spattered earth, invasive species and I know that it will be years before I can tame this. My lovely stroll through flowers to a garden filled with fresh vegetable ripe for the picking is once again at least a year away, several actually.

The thought weighs me down and tenses my shoulders as I put the tiny plants in the. back of my car.. I drive down the short gravel road to the main highway and stop to wait for a passing lumber truck.

Something catches my attention over my right shoulder, unlikely movement in the yard of a farm home. Cows, sheep and pigs, I expect. A man or woman with a weed-wacker or a rider mower I take in stride, even deer, coyote and elk are common sights, but this is a different movement, rhythmic, yet unpredictable. Something black and white and graceful

It’s a boy, maybe 10 years old, he has on a white T-shirt, black jeans and vest, and a black derby hat and he is dancing his ass off. His movements are random, but full of the electricity of real dance, expression that takes over, spins, stops, shudders, and flows. It is remarkable, here, in the country, on a highway a young man is dancing his butt off with passion. He does not care who sees him, that his schoolmates will almost certainly mock him, that what he doing might not be ‘good enough’. He is dancing because his soul called him to do it, and it does not matter one whit whether anyone else sees it or what they think of it.

That, my friends, is an artist. That is a dancer. My spirits lifted, I broke into a huge grin, and I sat on that lonely stretch of road and watched him for a full five minutes, my face beaming, my heart launched into the clear blue sky above that young man. His joy was infinite and his creativity was, and I hope always will be, invincible.

And that’s why I write. Maybe only ten people will read this, or my next book, but I’m ready. I write what I love from my heart. I have, like that young man, danced alone, in forests and on city streets at night when there was no one there to see me, and it was beautiful.

So dance my friends,

Sing out loud

Write.

And, only if you want to, share it with the rest of us.

 

Shari May 25, 2024