Living Juicy: Passion, Purpose, and the Perversity of Spirit

It’s not just peaceful and quiet in the wine country, it’s juicy and alive filled with wonder, color, change and possibility. It’s alchemy at its finest. Juicy, juicy, juicy. The grapes turn to wine with the help of Wine03human hands; the sun basks on our veggie gardens and produces food at the dinner table; the birds find food to feed their young in their twig-filled nests, and the peacock must do its mating dance and spread its blue-green feathers to show its magnificence.February 2012 043

All creatures have a passion and purpose. Every day they are busy at work to complete their mission. They simply must. This holds to true for people. Everyone has their own reason for being on this planet, if they just heed the call.

But the call does not come without its own perversity. The spirit must find its way through the obstacle course of life, and arrive if it will, dependent on its level of unbending commitment.

I learned about the perversity of spirit on Saturday when I took a writing class called, Writing as a Path to Awakening by Albert De Silva, author of the haunting memoir, Beamish Boy and Poet Laureate of Marin County, California. In the course, he shared an article by Rufi Thorpe, author of a novel, The Girls from Corona Del Mar. In the article published by The Literary Life, a young writer was asking the teacher, “Whether or not he should be a writer. Do I have what it takes?”

She answered, “that no one, no one can answer that question for you.”

On the verge of tears he went on, “But do you think I’m talented?”

She replied, “What I think is that talent is the least important thing about a writer. “What is important?” he asked.

She said dryly, maybe cruelly: “Perversity of spirit. Talent is the least important thing about a writer, compared to a love of books, which must be deep and abiding. The only thing a writer really needs is the emotional equivalent of a cartoon creature’s bouncy springiness, so that after being run over or blown up–or in the case of the writer, rejected and rejected some more–the writer is irrationally unfazed by even the most valid criticism and continues to work.”

We do what we must. Whether you’re a writer, photographer, leader, educator, curator, sculpturer, painter, etc.–it’s the perseverance and determination to see your goals and dreams come true–regardless of the Nay-sayers, the obstacles, the odds. Who cares about them and that? If you must create, you will.

I love this quote by Goethe.

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“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do. As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.  — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Whether is Goethe, the poet or Nature the creator, they show us their creations every day through sheer will. Sonoma MPK 05

The truth is, the world needs beauty in the form of story, art, photos, cooking recipes, etc. and of course always is made from two essential ingredients: perseverance and an absurd, fun and strange sense of humor.

It doesn’t matter our age, what matters is our passion to create and stay juicy. The perversity of the spirit.


Sacred Space: Inner Peace

There is no greater state of being, nor higher goal worth pursuing than Inner Peace. What I call, the Sacred Space that springs eternal from the soul. Despite our joys, fears, doubts, hurts, disappointments and suffering, when I go inward into my heart, Light-in-HeartI tap into a pure, true and untouchable place, a knowing that I, that all of us play a part in something much more magnificent than ourselves, a part in the profound beauty and grand design of this one precious life.

August 2016 005In the wine country, there is evidence of this wherever I look: in the bushels that attract butterflies, in the herb garden where basil, cilantro and parsley thrive, when the Sonoma moon shines its light on my darkest nights.

Inside my home, it’s in the books of poetry I read, and the novels I hold in my hands. It’s in the grand silence that inspired writers to spill their stories onto the page.

Joan Didion, who experienced the excruciating losses of both her husband and her daughter, one to a sudden death, and the other to a cruel disease, found her salvation, her way out through her writings, her sacred space.Gifts of Beauty 002

I suppose my greatest pull to wholeness and the life that was calling for me, came from May Sarton, a poet and journal writer who lived in New England. She wrote about the simple things inside a profound daily existence filled with language, animals, flowers, friendships, and poetic reflection. I was hooked with her first book called, Plant Dreaming Deep. 

In her books, she speaks about solitude and how it helped her find her way through a noisy world, to avoid collisions with others. I ask, “How can we fully be ourselves and yet not collide with other’s wills and ways?” I like the idea of riding alongside someone in their journey, instead of butting heads to reach higher ground, greater solutions.

Sarton’s books live on a shelf by my nightstand. She reminds me every day to keep life real and simple. And in 1995, when Sarton died, I took a trip East to visit her home and grave in Nelson, New Hampshire. I knew then, I would like to continue her life, someway, somehow. My blog is a humble attempt. In her honor, I share her poem with you that she actually wrote on a pane of glass in her Nelson home.

May Sarton


A Poem on a Pane of Glass

Happy the man who can long roam-ing reap,
Like old Ulysses when he shaped his course
Homeward at last toward the native source,
Seasoned and stretched to plant his dreaming deep.
When shall I see the chimney smoke once more
Of my own village; in a fervent hour
When maples blaze or lilac is in flower
Push open wide again my plain white door?

Here is a little province, poor and kind —
Warmer than marble is the weathered wood;
Dearer than holy Ganges, the wild brook;
And sweeter than old Greece to this one mind.
A ragged pasture, open green, white steeple,
And these whom I have come to call my people.
– May Sarton
1955-1972, Nelson