Saturday, April 26, 2014

Instructions (inspired by First Sip)

A poster I saw once upon a time and which has made the rounds online,  such that it would be difficult to identify the creator and the original source,) has frequently offered consolation for me whenever I've returned upon it:  "Yes, I've made mistakes. Life didn't come with instructions." 

I've heard others refer to it this way: "I didn't get the playbook," implying other people did, assuming they were on a team or the team.  Yes, the outlier's feeling, the one who doesn't get it, the misfit, things I know and forget and relearn. 

What also comes to mind is Blake's dictum from the Marriage of Heaven and Hell, "the tygers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction."  I would call myself a tyger, agent of creative wrath, or wise.

How often was I told "It's very easy if you follow directions?" Rather than following directions, I considered myself stupid for both not following directions and for not doing something "very easy."

Then at other once times, I might have learned from others with experience.  "Nothing is easy," my first landlord told me, after I'd fatheadly commented that what he was working on looked like "it wouldn't be easy."  Or, the groundskeeper at one of the educational institutions with which I've been associated, gleefully asserting: "First we put it together, then we read the fucking instructions." 

Lacking such confidence or persistence and then willful ignorance as a substitute, and yet there may have been a time when I was willing to let of regret and do the next necessary thing in front of me.

So imagine my delight when at last I discovered there are instructions.  Thank you, Mary! Thank you, Claudia! 

For me, these words convey presence, appreciation, gratitude, and sharing all of it, whether through speech (also silence and being with another/others) and art which "hinges on having experienced something so moving that I want others to know about it."(June Wyler, quoted in Conversations with Artists by Selden Rodman.)

(For those who prefer a simpler version, there's the Zen master to himself: "Oh, master?" "Yes, master." "Be calm." "Yes, master." (Source))