Community Green: The Next Chapter

By Pamela Noel

Special to Plumas News

She wanted to experience beauty—the beauty of the chapter of life she was entering.  This was a new time, a time of exploration, a time of acceptance—that of ripening—some call it aging.

Feeling two opposing, or perhaps complimentary trajectories, she wanted to grab the one that was ascending—the trajectory of creativity.  The other, that of aging, she wanted, (not to reject), but to explore and celebrate, seeing becoming older as the opportunity to engage in a new chapter.  A two-part question emerged.   How could she adapt to the changes in her body, while basking in the new freedom she felt in creation?  How could she look at the “slowing down” in life with new eyes?  Looking at it as an opportunity to see and feel life more deeply, fully, letting go of much of the striving that took time and energy away from truly observing, feeling, and being.

While the snow flew outside, she cocooned in her brightness of paint, canvas, paper, and glue.  Disappearing for hours inside a mind of color and line and shape and whimsey, she worked and played and danced in her “joy room” of creation.  Only when she felt the twinges in her back, would she stop and stretch or dance or sing, until the body loosened.

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Knowing that she had many choices for how she spent time, she wondered if creating art was the most productive way to navigate this chapter.  Historically, she had measured her self-worth by the yardstick of making any situation better and happier for those around her.  Now, no longer using that same yardstick, it no longer seemed to matter whether or not she was productive in her historical sense.  It mattered more that she was immersed in a glorious cloud of expression.  Initially seeming a bit selfish, it was becoming clear that this pointless creative activity was feeding her in an important way, helping her to intuitively feel her path through this time of life; finding joy in the process of living, loving, and creating.

And this joy actually had the potential to increase her connection with others…to impact them as well.  Any activity, she thought—that creates inner joy, and self-acceptance—is worthwhile.  Creating a sense of well-being and well becoming, this splashes over her own personal brim of self, and onto the shore of humanity. At least she hoped there was truth in this perspective.

She wondered, at what point does personal fulfillment, (regardless of the activity or process) really impact one’s community?  How can a life given to creative expression brighten the path for others?  Asking this question of one of her mentors, he passed the question back to her.  How do you react when you are in the presence of someone who is passionate about something in her/his own life?

Looking into her own life, she allowed herself to drift among the memories of those who had impacted her. A dance teacher who had shared with her the gift of movement came to mind.  A coach who had instilled in her daughter the sense of team spirit, helped her to cheer on every team mate, regardless of talent.  A father who taught her to see the magic of the natural world; an artist friend who became so carried away with his creative imaginings that he seemed to glow with color and movement on his canvass—all these people throughout her life left her feeling uplifted and positive.  This remembering gave her what she needed, continuing her own creative process, leaving that particular question on the shelf. She could now continue to freely enter this chapter that had the potential to not only create, but could also help others to light that spark in themselves.

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