Monday, November 26, 2012

"Synchrodestiny": From Painting to Poetry

Long before I had ever heard of the term “synchrodestiny,” Deepak Chopra’s label for life’s “intricate dance of coincidences,” I knew it was possible to move through experience and relationship in such a way that good things seemed to magically happen, if I were open and aware. Sometimes the eventual unfolding would have begun with a still, small voice saying, “turn left here,” or “wear those earrings today”; other times, I might have been unaware of any such prompting, yet suddenly in front of me would appear exactly what I needed at that moment, or from behind me I would hear, “Andi?” and turn around to see someone I had not seen for twenty years.

I have learned both to expect and not expect these moments, to make decisions with or without them, and to be delighted and amazed (yet not amazed) whenever they happen. Here I offer a recent example:

During a very busy recent period of deliberate, self-imposed unemployment, I was training for a 60-mile fundraising walk. My walking partner and I spent our training time together talking about how we could use our gifts and skills, time and talents to improve other people’s lives, to make money, and to add meaning and value to our own lives. On one walk, the topic was creativity. As I began to recall the creative media I have experimented with (colored pencil, pastels, charcoal, watercolor, acrylic, collage, embroidery, calligraphy, ballet, flamenco, poetry, etc.), I realized that in recent years my work as a technical writer, curriculum developer, project manager, and executive director, while challenging and fulfilling, has been much more about my skills as an efficient, organized thinker and planner, and less about creativity. Not bad, just fact.

About an hour after returning home from our 12-mile walk, I received an email forwarded from my walking partner, a notice of an Intuitive Painting workshop which she had just received via a listerv to which she, as a certified Counselor, belongs. I read the description of the one-day workshop on an upcoming Saturday in Santa Fe for a reasonable fee, and thought, “why not?!” (I later found out that because Nina Ross had posted her notice to the Counseling listserv only an hour before I responded, I was the first participant to sign up.)

Arriving at Nina's studio on October 20, I had little idea what to expect. I was welcomed into a little room with 5 chairs, 4 large sheets of watercolor paper (each taped to the wall—2 on one side of the room, 2 on the other), and two tables of all things “painting” – coffee cans full of brushes of every width and varying lengths, sponges, stirring sticks, scrapers…. Plastic squeeze bottles of brightly colored paints, little plastic pallets, small cups of paint, rags… and cans of water. The four participants and Nina sat first in a circle, while she introduced us to each other, to the workshop, and to a reading from a book by Byron Katie (whose name I recognized only because a few weeks prior I had read one of her books while staying at a friend's house). Then we moved the chairs out of the way, and quietly began to paint.

I used a wide brush at first, making large sweeping strokes from bottom to top, in deep turquoise blue. From there I added purple, then green, and then progressed to trying different colors, brushes, and strokes. Nina suggested I try painting with my left hand, for a change. I did, and a kind of black calligraphy resulted, approximating Chinese characters which I then accented with red dots. She then suggested I turn the canvas, so I worked with it “upside down” and then “sideways,” adding layers of texture, color, line. The result was an abstract painting that made me happy. It was colorful, exuberant, and seemed to say “See? You can paint! You can create!”

I took the painting home, observing it in a variety of lights and orientations. Finally, I put it down flat on the kitchen floor, stood above it, and snapped a picture of it with my cell phone camera, filling the frame. The next day, I sent it to some friends, and posted it here on the blog, calling it "Intuition."

Fast forward a week. I was at my little rented office, working on a few projects, when I decided to walk over to the hair salon in the shopping center across the street. It was not time for a haircut, but I wanted to leave a flyer about The Walk, hoping the salon would be willing to post it for me and help me do the last of my fundraising. As I walked to my destination, I passed an art gallery that I’d never noticed before, and made a mental note to stop there on my way back to my office. The gallery was fairly large, with many different artists’ works, and types of art, showcased. As I browsed, one of the women at the desk approached me to tell me about the gallery (a co-op) and her own watercolors. Then she said, “Are you an artist?” I said, “Well, that’s a really interesting question!” I was thinking of my one and only painting, the evidence right there on my cell phone. “No,” I said, “I’m really more of a poet.”

As soon as those words were out of my mouth, I wondered why I had said them. True, I have more poetry to my name than paintings, collages, and calligraphy combined, but I have rarely, if ever, said “I am a poet.” I've written poetry for decades, read it aloud at poetry readings, but never claimed the identity, "poet."

The artist responded, “Oh! Do you know Joanne?” Joanne, apparently, was the other woman at the desk. They had been chatting as I walked in. Joanne and I introduced ourselves; then she said, “I am the vice president of the New Mexico State Poetry Society” and asked me if I had a book. I told her that I had a file-folder manuscript of about 65 poems, but had never published a book—just a few individual selections here and there. She shared with me that her first collection of poems had just been published, locally. We went out to her car; I happened to have just enough cash with me to buy a copy. She then told me about her publisher, Mercury Heartlink, and recommended I contact them (the web site address was on the back of the book).

I walked back to my office, went online, found Mercury Heartlink's “Contact Us” link, and sent an email introduction to Stewart Warren, the man behind the site. Short version of what transpired next: we spoke on the phone the next day, and agreed that synchrodestiny was at work. He would publish my poetry. I cleaned up the manuscript per his instructions and sent it to him. We agreed to meet the next week, on 10/31, Hallowe’en. He spent the next few weeks working on the book, and meanwhile I collected blurbs and author photos, and completed the 60-mile Walk. By November 19, my book, When East Was North, was available on Amazon, not as an e-book, but a real, live book with a beautiful cover, published by Mercury Heartlink. Less than one month from the date of the painting workshop.

Call it what you will....but for me, Chopra's "intricate dance of coincidences" works just fine. I think I shall rename the painting "Dance of Coincidence."

1 comment:

  1. Very nice. Congratulations on the book, and thanks for the beautiful words here.