Promises to Keep

I am, these days, a poster child for depression: unwashed, unclothed, unkempt, unmotivated. But strangely not depressed. Well, maybe a little, but it’s more an easing, an inching, a cautious seepage toward the new, the unknown (and frankly unwanted).

Change in the New Year is, of course, so largely mythical. And yet sometimes change doesn’t need to be tangible to be real. The symbolism alone can be crippling.

I don’t do change well. I don’t go to bed well. I don’t get up well. Don’t like to get in the shower; don’t like to get out of the shower. I love life, but the segue between episodes can throw me into a dither.

“I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow./I learn by going where I have to go.” Theodore Roethke’s tenuous broachings became a mantra when I traveled through Greece alone for three weeks, knowing no one, not speaking the language. I was forty-two, coming out of a dark place in the midst of a charmed life, and those words have worked magic on me ever since.

And so you will find me at the start of every new year, poised for the weeks-long morning of pajamas, tea and fire, short of words but long on the silent questioning dance with whomever lives inside me.

And it will lead me along the long road home, toward those promises I keep . . . but slowly. Have patience.

And yet, as changes go, this year will bring some of the largest for me: the marriage of my firstborn, the college graduation and home-leaving of my baby, the declining health of my sole remaining parent, the impending cross-country move of my son, two very grand art achievements, the tearful closing of Ciel Gallery, an intense two-year labor of love, and decisions about my path from here. Pajamas and tea, indeed.

I recognize, of course, that change, even dreaded change, often brings unexpected blessings, and even less blessed changes help us evolve, most often for the better, kicking and screaming attendant. But evolution requires action, a meeting head-on and toe to toe with our hearts on our sleeves and our brains ready to verbalize and vocalize.  Backs straightened, eyes peeled, belts tightened, no shields. I like being a warrior, but I can get pretty whiny when the battle isn’t on my own terms.

But the promises I’ve made will rouse me, stumbling toward Saturday classes, weekend workshops, dinners and swim meets, deadlines, and the occasional requisite cleaning. Every smile will help me loosen the grip on the shield, step into the future, open the heart a bit more. But the goodbyes will never flow as easily as the tears, and I suppose that saline cleansing is part of the plan. So bring it on Life. Almost ready.

“This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.”

12 thoughts on “Promises to Keep

  1. As a result of months of tossing and turning and a final decision to take the road less traveled, I’ve decided to move forward on faith and keep the gallery open and classes (hopefully) flourishing! It won’t be easy on the tummy, but I feel that a leap of faith is called for, and I’m racing towards mid-air.


  2. Hi Pam I love everything you write as I know it comes from your heart and soul. Change knows me well and change can be tough but hopefully it keeps us strong and more resilient. You’ve shown nothing but kindness and encouragement to me in the short time I have known you….I must say I have put you on a pedestal and admire you very much. Three children out there in the big wide world it’s hard to let go….I am saddened by the news about your gallery closing…you gave me my first gallery experience and made it totally painless and wonderful. I hope all the best for you in every aspect of your life and look forward to hearing from you and sharing our love of mosaics in the future. I hope I can be a bit more courageous in my remaining years. Thank you for being my mentor. I relate to so many things you so eloquently wrote. I too have had many changes in my life and you would think it would get easier but unfortunately I find the opposite is true. Good luck and best wishes…Hugs and kisses, Doreen


  3. I just learned of the closing of Ciel. I am saddened since I know you poured your heart and time into this wonderful gallery. Pam, I love your writing style and there is so much beauty, honesty and vulnerability in your words. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. You are one of my favorite artists and writers.


  4. Pam,
    So sorry to hear about the gallery. You did such wonderful things while you were there. Thank you for giving those of us that needed a shove, the opportunity to risk a little exposure.
    I’m sure great things are ahead for you. You are such a gifted, soulful writer and talented artist. Just keep working your way through this. We all just enjoy hearing what you have to say, whether it includes humor, passion, melancholy, and yes, even change.


  5. Wow, Pam. I am knocked off my socks here by your words. Between you and LeeAnn, it’s me too, though I do feel that this last year, some how, I’ve attached wings that are really helping me fly.

    I’m so sorry to hear about Ciel. Really sorry, friend.


  6. Phewwwwweeeeeeee! This is so beautiful and, as Ilona says, brave and open. I don’t do change well either, and now I understand why. Thanks so much for adding a layer of depth to my own vision, compassion, and tender-heart. Oh you. I like you very much!


  7. You are a warrior – this is a brave post. In many ways we are kindred spirits despite differences in life circumstances. I totally relate to not doing change well, especially getting up well! And I’m sorry to hear about Ciel, too, although I trust that life has even better things in store for you.


  8. Wow – you know how sometimes you’re reading something, and you come across a phrase that could have been – maybe *should* have been – written by you? And your entire being vibrates because you know you have to sit up straight and pay attention now? “I like being a warrior, but I can get pretty whiny when the battle isn’t on my own terms.” is that phrase. I have spent a couple of months thinking about how my authentic self is a warrior and always has been, one who has been squashed and corseted for many years now in pursuit of becoming a ‘better’ person. Misguided, I have come to believe. But at the same time I find myself curled up on the couch with my coffee instead of out in the world making a path. Long strings of “ifs” in front of what I want, wrapping around my ankles and pulling me down. Mm mm mm honey you have opened Pandora’s box. God save us all! LOL

    And what of Ciel Gallery? This is the first I knew it is closing. I’m so sad to hear it, but it’s hard for me to tell from your post how you feel about it. Wherever you go from there, I know you’ll make a success of it, and I hope you can do it “on your own terms” 🙂


    • Ah, your comment resonates right back Lee Ann. It took me years (that aforementioned dark period) to come to terms with who I am versus who people want me to be, and it’s still hard. It does, however, get easier with every year that flees out of my sight. May we all wake up warriors — the world is aching for us, and I firmly believe that.

      I’m crushed about Ciel, BUT I managed to stretch a one-year financial/time commitment into two years of bliss, and I have to believe that good will follow . . . in one form or another. The lease is paid through June 30, and we need to make the Flights of Fancy exhibition (April and May) the best ever!


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