August. A month of transition. A month of humid, hazy days, late night thunderstorms, and the whisper of autumn around the corner.
We’re soaking up every ounce of sunlight we can– dipping our warm bodies into cool lakes and sparkling pools, fanning ourselves on our decks and porches, filling and refilling glasses of lemonade (or something harder, perhaps) brimming with cubes of ice.
It’s a time for deep gratitude. Of listening to cicadas in the dead of night. Of long country drives. Of dining al fresco.
There is beauty and wisdom in August. A gentle reminder to take it all in, and thank summer for its offerings. There’s also a hard lesson to be learned– the lesson of letting go of languid afternoons in exchange for the cooler sunlight of September.
On the first weekend of the month, we hiked a trail that was harder than it looked. I had less than adequate shoes for the journey, and had to be cautious with my steps. I knew that I could persevere with what I had, but experience reminded me to be cautious of forest floors: winding roots that jut out of the soil, sturdy rocks that hide under paths padded with litterfall.
Last month, I found out that I didn’t get into an artist residency program I had applied for. It seemed perfectly suited for my creative practice of creating mandalas from nature, of listening to silence and sitting in stillness. I convinced myself that I had to get in.
But I didn’t. I asked myself why it was so imperative that I got in– was it because of the learning, the support, the community of likeminded artists working on their own fascinating projects? Perhaps. Or perhaps it was something else. Perhaps it was validation I was looking for.
Perhaps I needed my wild idea to be validated before I took the risk– before I entered the forest. When I looked up the etymology of the word ‘valid’, I was surprised to read its original meaning: “strong/be strong”.
Be strong indeed.
After the tears, I reminded myself that the idea for my project was fully formed before I knew about the residency. It was born from something more intentional than just a 2-week project proposal.
It is about embodiment, about deepening a practice, deepening a life. It requires bravery, time, courage, space.
I know that it has to be carried, regardless of the circumstances. So I’ve decided that I will write and create from this idea over the next month, as I travel through the East Coast of Canada. I will sit with sunsets, taste the sea salt on my lips, walk the trails and listen to the trees.
Maybe I won’t have the best shoes for the journey, but all I need to do is put one foot in front of the other.