In May I took a visual poetry class at Art & Soul taught by the wonderful Kelly Falzone. It's a class where poetry interacts with visual art; we made art to fit our words, we crafted words to complement our art, we shaped our poetry, we were inspired by images and paintings and one another. It was a lovely course.
In one particular class, Kelly pulled out an old box filled with black & white postcards. She turned them over so that we could not see the images and fanned them in her hands, asking us to select two postcards like she was a magician starting a card trick. We were told not to look at the cards but to simply think of someone who was no longer in our lives--either because his or her breath had expired or because life situations had taken us away from each other (break-ups, moves, graduations, etc.). Kelly told us that this person we were thinking of had a message for us and they wanted to send on a postcard. Once we turned the cards over, she said, we would know which card this person would send and what the message was. Our exercise was to write down the message.
So I selected two cards, as instructed. I immediately thought of my dear Teri who died unexpectedly in 2003. The heft of her death sits near me still. I flipped the cards over and saw two images: one was a man standing on a bridge in Chicago with a tall well-windowed building behind him, the other was of a man with one knee on the ground who was balancing a sword on his nose. Just as Kelly promised, I knew Teri would send the sword-balancing card, and so I started writing.
"Do the Crazy Thing" is Teri's beautiful message to me, and it came at just the most amazing time. Just days before I had mentioned to my besties Beth (my Bethstie!) and my sister that I was going to just go ahead and leave my job, start writing again and trust that all would work out as it was to be. I had done that before in 2005, and I was ready to do it again, I told them. They both thought that maybe I wasn't making the most rational of decisions.
But this exercise reminded me that sometimes the most rational of decisions keeps us from doing things of wonder. And this exercise reminded me that Teri inspired me so much in her living because she did wonder-filled things! And this exercise gave me a gift I've missed for almost 8 long years: sitting down and telling Teri my secrets and hearing her crazy-wonderful advice!
I highly recommend an exercise like this if you have someone who's missing from your life. It's magical.
UPDATE--and just so you know, I did leave my job just two or three weeks after writing this poem and, in fact, started writing for a living again! I also work at the lululemon store in Nashville and love my work every day. So when the fabulous Alessia at the lululemon headquarters put some graphics to this poem in October, I was terribly honored . . . so voila!