One of the things I love about vacations is how they blur the edges of my life.
Travis and I are in Palm Springs this week. It’s pretty hot, but a fantastic getaway, as always. We’ve been floating in the pool for hours most afternoons, letting the main decisions of the day be where to have dinner and whether or not we might do some karaoke later. Our minds can wander and our conversations meander. We’re meeting new people and having fun conversations about all sorts of inspiring possibilities. We’ve outlined a novel we might co-write, devised a personality test and typing system for organizational development, ruminated about dozens of different futures and affirmed the trajectory on which we’re headed. It’s heavenly.
Regular life these days seems to call for so much sharp focus and decisiveness. Pressing needs that demand not just opinions and ideas, but also commitment and rigor and preparation. That’s how it usually occurs for me, anyway. And it feels like the stakes are always higher than ever, and whatever position I might take better be strong and sure, or else…
I’m a lucky one, because I’m already inclined to be opinionated and driven and kind of bossy. When I feel unclear about something, that just means that I haven’t made my choice yet. So if I want to rid myself of any discomforting uncertainty, I just need to make a choice and take a stand. That at least solves the problem of not knowing what to do, because it’s already done and now full steam ahead!
But it’s good to be reminded how refreshing it is to just be blurry sometimes.
And I don’t mean blurry as the opposite of clarity. I mean blurry as a gentler and more inclusive clarity.
Maybe life doesn’t always have to be like a desperate “Escape Room” puzzle where we’re racing against the clock trying to find the one correct solution that gets us all out safely. Of course we face some urgent issues that require smart decisions and coordinated effort. But I think part of my greater clarity is remembering to include vast, open, indistinct expanses in my awareness and imagination. To be as blurry as I can be about as much of it as possible.
A soft-focus sensibility that smooths out some of the hard edges of it all, letting the world be prettier, like a watercolor. Places where you can’t quite tell where land ends and sky begins, and where the boundaries between you and me dissolve. Gray areas. Time to drift in ambivalence and ambiguity. Space for contradiction. Complexity not always like a problem to be sorted out but something we embrace as a revelation of unresolvable and richly interwoven multiplicity.
One of the big controversies in the City of Palm Springs right now is the placement of a gigantic statue of Marilyn Monroe. It’s an imposing 26-foot-tall Marilyn in her iconic pose from Seven Year Itch — the moment when she steps over a subway vent and her white dress flutters up around her while she joyfully tries to hold it down. This bombshell colossus was first created by artist Seward Johnson about ten years ago, for a two-year installation on the Palm Springs downtown main drag. After that, she went away for 8 years, touring maybe. Recently, the statue was purchased by a private company and has been re-installed in front of the Palm Springs Art Museum. And, boy, do lots of folks here have very strong opinions about it! People are up in arms about the location, whether or not the image is exploitative, whether it’s really art or just oversized kitsch, questioning if zoning regulations have been violated, etc..
I love not having to have an opinion about it. I can see various points, and I’m engaged by the different arguments. I like hearing what people think and why they care. But I’m not that invested in however it goes, and I’m certainly not responsible for deciding anything about it.
She makes me wonder if there are matters in my life in Albuquerque to which I might bring a similar non-attached appreciation. Low-stakes interest. Care without righteousness.
I’ve had a couple of other pleasantly blurry experiences this week, which I’ll probably share with you on Sunday. But for now I’m going to float over to my cold beverage on the other side of the pool and watch the palm trees swaying in the blue sky…
See you at 10:00am this Sunday, at Maple Street Dance Space. With special musical guest, Katie Gill. My talk will also be posted online Sunday evening at BOSQUECSL.ORG. XO, Drew
©2021 Drew Groves