I can still hear the gentle dripping of the rain from the roof onto my back patio as I walk through the house to the kitchen. The birds are starting to sing their morning serenade to one another, apparently letting everyone know that the rains have stopped, at least for now, and to prepare for the day ahead. I can hear the gentle hum of my refrigerator as I pour my morning cup of liquid life into my coffee cup, and as I walk into the room where the artist’s table lives, the creaking of the wood floors beneath my feet lets me know that my house is getting old, but is still sturdy. My house and I are the same.
The senses are the first thing I take in as I will sit down at the desk. To the left is a bucket full of brushes and colored pencils, the kind of magic wands capable of creating anything out of nothing, especially in the small hands of a boy wizard. There is a small bookcase that houses more magic potions, the many things that a small kid with a huge imagine will use from time to time to help an old man see his world. Paints and scissors, glue sticks and colored papers, all stacked semi neatly on the shelves of the small white structure made of particle board that sits quietly in the corner.
What are three things that I see? What are two things that I can hear? What is something I can touch? I go over the checklist in my brain as I take deep breaths. I keep both feet on the floor because for one to become grounded in any situation, one has to feel the ground. The time for flying is behind me, left in the bed that I just made, now it is time to live among the living. My bare feet will slide back and forth on the old wooden floors, feeling the slight grain and edges in the planks. My senses are waking up all around me, which allows me to wake up too.
Three sights, two sounds, one feel. Check, Check, Check.
This is my routine. This is how I start my day. This is how I re-start my life.
As soon as I am one with this living world, and no longer trapped in the sleepy one, I reach down into my gray cloth bag, and pull out the red notebook. I place the notebook softly front on me, grab the pair of black readers that permanently live in the bucket on the right side of the artist’s desk and put them on my face. I instantly become the small curious little boy that once wore the big glasses long ago, and I begin to smile. The adult clouds that live in my adult brain seem to move out and allows the curiosity to come back in. I am no longer thinking of adult things, the kind of things that grow grey hairs on my aging head, instead, I am at a place where the art comes out again. I am ready to write.
Before I grab the pen and turn the red notebook to the first available page, I flip to the very last one and pull out the two folded pieces of paper that live there. Even though the notebooks will eventually find their way to a burning grave once full, the pieces of paper will be the only thing that makes the jump from notebook to notebook, thus keeping the inspiration alive. Inside the the folded pages is a picture, as well as a prayer.
Two pages, a picture and a prayer. A pact, a promise, and peace.
I grab one of the pages and start to read the words on it, even though I basically have it all memorized, burned deep in my adult brain. But the process is the process and I have come to welcome the methodicalness of it all. After reading the contents of the first page I will gently lay it down the way a small child lays a doll in a crib, and I will grab the other page and start to read its contents. My nose will subconsciously crinkle as to re-adjust my glasses as I continue down the page, and then this page too will find its way gently down into the crib. The pages my be asleep but my thoughts are fully awake by now. My pact with life is renewed.
The picture is next on the list. There is really no formal way of doing things here, no magical potion that tells me to do the things I do in any particular order, but this is the way I have chosen to do them, and therefore, this is how I do them. I will not punish myself if I sequence them a different way, I simply grant myself grace and just chalk it up to the universe allowing me to be free of structure, to simply play. But I will hold the picture in my hand and look at it, stare at the thing that is printed on the glossy paper and smile. Funny how sometimes one thing can bring you happiness and sadness, joy and pain. I look at the picture and the feeling of joy comes to my heart and warms it, much like the cup of coffee to my left warms my throat. My promise is renewed.
My thoughts are warm and my body is too now.
I place the picture in between the two pieces of paper and say the prayer. It is short and it is simple, the kind of thing that kind things should be. A little can go a long way, and so does these words. I am not sure if it is a prayer as much as it is a mantra, But it is directed to God, which in turn means it is directed to me, and the circle of love and being is connected. The peace is renewed.
Two pages, a picture and a prayer, all are placed in the back of the red notebook. The ritual is now complete and I can start the writing. The words that are on the two pages that I keep in the back of the notebook are permanent, the words that I am about to write in the front of the notebook are not. I do not know what I will say, but they still seem to come out, like the rain from the clouds, they will eventually come from someplace and fall where they may. And so I let them, the words that come from the magical place in my head now come to life through the magical wand that is in my hand. Let the wild rumpus of writing start.
I cannot tell you what is written on the two pages. I will not tell you what the picture is of, and the prayer is the private whisper that is passed between my lips and God’s ear. They are my little secrets, the little things that propel my ship forward in the troubled waters that we sometimes call life, and they keep me facing forward during the calmness. They are my pact to myself and this life, they are the promise I make, and they give me the peace I seek. We all need the things that I speak of, the pages that remind us of who we are, the pictures that show us that the past and the future can live in the present, and the prayer that humbles us.
I have my things. I have the little rituals that I do in the morning to get me going and remind me to keep going. I see the sights of my surroundings, I hear the sounds of my world, and I reach out and touch it, making sure it is real and that I am part of it all. And then I start with the things that make me who I am, that cause me pause and make be remember of the gift that I wake up to every morning. I start with two pages, one picture and a prayer, and the rest just seems flow from there.
Life begins when we allow it to.