what is a broken arrow?

BROKEN ARROW is the code word used for an unexpected event involving nuclear weapons in the accidental launching, firing, detonating, theft or loss of weapon.  When I heard this term on the radio yesterday, I linked BROKEN ARROW to the accidental emotional launches that happen in my nuclear family life.

nu·cle·ar/adjective
1.  relating to the nucleus of an atom
2.  BIOLOGY; relating to the nucleus of a cell

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As a 51-year-old woman, married since I was 25, and raising twin 17-year-old girls, a BROKEN ARROW can easily be disarming—hopefully not devastating.

There have been thirty-two BROKEN ARROW incidents since 1950.  I’ve had many more. However, maybe with more awareness I can launch less frequently.  I’m quite certain my nuclear family would appreciate the diplomacy.

BROKEN ARROW: an accidental emotional launch

reference link: ATOMIC ARCHIVE 

beautiful obstacles

beautiful:  exciting aesthetic pleasure

obstacle:  something that impedes progress or achievement

I’m beginning to understand that life’s obstacles are an invitation, not an interruption.

 

ancestral wisdom…

Today, I picked up, “The Literature of South Dakota” by John R. Milton.  This book was a gift to me from my grandfather when I was in college.  It fell open onto a short story, “ARCADIA IN AVERNUS” written by my great, great uncle, Will Otis Lillibridge 1878-1909.  Actually a pretty racy story for the time.  “For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind” is the subtitle.  Here’s the summary.The literature of South Dakota

Unhappy wife leaves marriage of convenience for another man, the couple running away to the Dakota prairie to set up housekeeping. All seems romantically well… until the ex shows up. Surprisingly modern (if a little theatrical) novella from the early 1900’s. From the posthumous collection of Lillibridge short stories, A Breath of Prairie, 1911. Arcadia In Avernus
There’s a term that’s haunting me.  In the short story a woman has a dream that she’s in a desolate place and she hears out of the darkness the sounds of human suffering.  The voices grow louder and she sees a man and woman walking toward her.  They are bent beneath a tremendous burden and both have wounds where they’ve carried the load.
lillibridge swing and farmhouse wall
In her dream she asks the man, “What rough load is that you carry?” and he wearily answers, The burden of conventionality“.
“We dare not drop it”, says the woman, hopelessly, “lest that light, which is the searchlight of public opinion return, showing us different from the others”.
He answers her gently, “But the burden isn’t useless, the condemnation of society is an hourly reality.”
We all must carry the burden of conventionality sometimes.  However, we also can choose to write novels (or join the circus or whatever) because we just never know how much time we have.
Thank you Uncle Will, you’re unconventionalness is a source of inspiration indeed.

Lillibridge looking back at SD

 

 

South Dakota—my interior geography

Last week I was in South Dakota for a funeral and a wedding.  In between those emotional events I found some time to drive back roads with my husband, see the stunning late August countryside and find some much needed quiet.  I’m always reminded of how much the prairie landscape resides in my cells, bones and heart.

This landscape gives me clarity, helps me understand my choices and guides me back to my personal True North when I get off course a bit.

South Dakota is my interior geography, no matter where I am in the world. 

Recently, I had to draw a compass at Courage Camp in Bristol, Rhode Island.  I laughed at myself because the way I still figure out directions is to imagine I’m standing on the front porch of my childhood home.  It’s there that I’m most confident in knowing my directions.  (photo below)

IMG_2852Standing on the porch I know which direction the sun sets and how to get to Nebraska. With that knowledge, I can find my way most places.

I often think of my intrepid ancestral homesteaders who ventured West, uncertain of what they would find in the Dakota Territories.  However, and more importantly, perhaps they knew they could handle whatever the prairie offered them. 

I understand that now, at the tender age of 50, in a way I didn’t when I was younger.  I don’t know what’s next, but I know I can count on my interior geography to help guide my way.

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What is courage to you?

I believe right now in American history is an important time to explore what courage means to us on a very personal level.  I’m working on a mission statement for myself, a courage mantra in succinct language I’ll be able to summon when needed.  

I’ve scribbled and doodled and drawn circles and arrows, however, I don’t quite have it yet. I’ll let you know when I do.  I would be curious to know if you have a statement of this nature that you would be willing to share. 

I hope you have a uniquely courageous day. 


Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere…

Jim Jarmusch on creativity:

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.

 

 

This is one of my favorite quotes of all time.  When I think I’m being entirely original that’s when my ego emerges and my work suffers.  If I take note of my inspiration (creative theft), then my work is often more authentic.  Thank you Jim Jarmusch and Jean-Luc Godard, “it’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to”.  Indeed.

quote

 

 

martyr v. trickster energy

One of my favorite books is Elizabeth Gilbert’s BIG MAGIC.  She writes about creativity and what type of energy we let dominate our lives.  She boils it down to two types.

The martyr OR the trickster?

“Martyr energy is dark, solemn, macho, hierarchical, fundamentalist, austere, unforgiving, and profoundly rigid.  

“Trickster energy is light, sly, transgender, transgression, animist, seditious, primal, and endlessly shape-shifting.”

“I believe that the original human impulse for creativity was born out of pure trickster energy. …Creativity wants to flip the mundane world upside down and turn it inside out, and that’s exactly what a trickster does best.  The trickster is obviously a charming and subversive figure.

But for me, the most wonderful thing about a good trickster is that he trusts.

He trusts himself, obviously. He trusts his own cunning, his own right to be here, his own ability to land on his feet in any situation. To a certain extent, of course, he also trusts other people. But mostly, the trickster trusts the universe.”

—Elizabeth Gilbert/BIG MAGIC

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Who wants to live with mostly martyr energy?

Martyr energy is a total bummer.

If the universe is meant to be played with, then we must PLAY.  This doesn’t mean we can escape the mundane parts of daily life, grief or death.  However, deploying our creative trickster energy when needed (even in very difficult passages of our lives) gives us more options and lets us access more creativity.

The trickster trusts and doesn’t let doubt or paranoia get in the way of a good time.

The trickster would invite the martyr to discuss something very serious and then maybe coax them into skinny dipping instead.

Come on, let your inner trickster out.