I believe something magical happens when the right words/songs become imprinted in your mind. For the past few weeks, off and on, I have had Esperanza Spaulding & Algebra Blessett's "Black Gold" playing in the background of my mind. My own private cheering squad, they are ready to sing me through any trying moment.
Wednesday I had another head down, tears between my knees moment as I was getting ready for class. These moments, they keep coming. Thankfully, they are mild, mostly morose, and somewhat harmless. This time I was talking with E about life choices, school choices, etc. And again, I began doubting myself and my decisions. Ever patient, E let me talk through the doubts and eventually I asked him, "Why did I start this journey again?" He didn't need to tell me, but he reminded me of my thirst for knowledge and learning. He reminded me that it was a life goal.
"No." I told him.
That's all true, but I really started this journey for two reasons, I wanted an MFA to advanced my writing craft and for Granma. That's it.
Yesterday, I went to Lowes to buy some fruit trees for our garden. Oh the years I have been waiting to make this move and expand our garden. You see, fruit trees are fairly expensive, and they also require space and dedication/knowledge. Neither money, space, or knowledge we had for them. Until now. Not much, but enough.
While I was there I saw the most beautiful (late)-middle aged woman shopping for her garden. She reminded me of Granma. Her clay brown skin glistened in the sun. Her dress, a blue tank muu-muu, was starched and crisp. She looked like she had poured so much love into herself for this trip. I hadn't even ate a real meal yet (and it was after 1pm), let alone taken the time to oil my skin and press my clothes.
I loved on her for awhile. I watched her, wondered her name, and wondered what was growing in her garden. I wondered if her laugh would sound like Granma's or it she enjoyed entertaining like Granma did. She was so poised and content with life.
Watching her, in my mind, I began to quote Alice Walker,
"I went in search of the secret of what has fed that muzzled and often mutilated, but vibrant, creative spirit that the black woman has inherited, and that pops out in wild and unlikely places to this day."
"...an artist who left her mark in the only materials she could afford, and in the only medium her position in society allowed her to use."
"And so our mothers and grandmothers have, more often than not anonymously, handed on the creative spark, the seed of the flower they themselves never hoped to see: or like a sealed letter they could not plainly read."
-In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens
This morning, as I forced myself to make time for my own "wild and unlikely" pursuits, I realized why I have had so many head between the knees moments, crying.
Let me quote Walker again,
"For these grandmothers and mothers of ours were not Saints, but Artists; driven to a numb and bleeding madness by the springs of creativity in them for which there was no release. They were Creators, who lived lives of spiritual waste, because they were so rich in spirituality--which is the basis of Art--that the strain of enduring their unused and unwanted talent drove them insane."
-In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens
I don't think I could express my own feelings and reactions to life better. And in understanding this, I have come to realize my fear is based on this idea that I will never move into my own spirituality, fully.
So I journaled about it. I even managed to catch a poem hovering for only the slightest of seconds. It, the poem, needs some attention, but the essence is there.
I dream of belonging to the sisterhood of Black women writers who preserve and honor our legacy. Those women who stand amongst us, watch us, and write about us as she lives alongside us. Those women who write with the voice and echo of the sisterhood. Those women, passed on, who Walker reminds us of that cried out for creativity while molding biscuits, carrying babies, plaiting hair.
I know I am one of them.
And with these dreams comes responsibility. Knowledge and due understanding. And so I must read first. I must read before I write. I must study, learn their stories and voices, so that my echo will resound.
In my heart they call me "little sister" and reassure me that they are waiting for me. Waiting for my "true leaves" to emerge. Cultivate and nurture, they whisper.
In gardening, when we sow seeds there is a set of leaves that emerge first. They are the plant's first leaves, the seed leaves, and they are not what we call the plant's "true leaves." These first leaves are essentially present in the seed as part of the plant's embryo. They are the plant's stored food, waiting for the true leaves to take over food production. They are biologically created to be present, and to herald the young plant's life in and ensure food, life. But the true leaves, these are the leaves that must be cultivated and nurtured for growth and for the health and survival of the plant.
They are both necessary.
Yesterday, while watering my garden, an idea occurred to me--plant a garden in your mind.