One of my favourite writing friends, Julie Christine Johnson, just published an evocative post “Atmospheric River” on her blog. (Aside* Do yourself a favour and visit Julie’s blog. It will lift your spirits and inspire you.) I had never heard of the term “Atmospheric River” before but it just zings with me now. Julie speaks of awakening from a winter of the soul, one which I know well and so much of what she shares in this post echoes what I am feeling right now.
A couple of days ago I celebrated a birthday. In many ways it was a difficult Birthday because it was my first without one of my oldest friends, someone who is a part of my soul. But also because of A and how much she treasured life, even as it slipped out of her fingers like the broken silken threads of spiderwebs, I also was determined to truly appreciate the day. It ended up being both a terrible and beautiful day, much like life itself. Terrible in that someone, in a six degrees of separation way, was buried on my birthday morning. Beautiful in that a precious new human, the first longed-for son of one of my soul-friends, was born on the evening of my birthday. A burial in the morning and a birth in the evening on my birthday. An ending in the morning and a beginning in the evening of my birthday. This paradox of tragedy/beauty and death/birth made me think of the life of a star.
The past and all its little deaths of finished moments births our present…
There is nothing more magnificent than looking up at a night sky and trying to count all the stars one sees. But the stunning paradox is that many of those bright stars that we see in our galaxy are reflections of their past. Many of those stars that look so bright with life are stars that have died but because of their immense distance from us, we are actually seeing their past in our present. Isn’t that how it is with our memories and our own lives? We see the past in our present, hope for the unknown future but all we do know is the past. The past and all its little deaths of finished moments births our present. The past beauty of stars gives us our present vision of the night sky.
The above article was published a couple of days ago. Ironically it was published on my birthday.
“A team of astrophysicists has discovered that supermassive black holes at the centre of galaxies aren’t just destroyers of stars, but can also be their creators…”
This article filled me with thrills of excitement and it zinged with the epiphany I’ve had this week. I’ve been in my own black hole both creatively and emotionally. For the longest time I haven’t only not been inspired but I didn’t care that I didn’t want to create when life felt so destructive and chaotic. This black hole kept sucking me further and deeper into its vacuous depths. But very slowly a tiny, minuscule creative spark was being birthed in all this destruction.
This personal supermassive black hole had destroyed the stars of my creativity and ripped asunder the fabric of my night skies, forever changing the galaxy of my life, pulling it all into this consuming black nothingness that is grief. But where there is death there has to be life. This black hole I have found myself in has birthed beautiful, vibrant, sparking creative energy. The immense blackness has birthed exquisite light.
This black hole has birthed stars. Out of chaos, beauty.
I am birthing stars again. The synapses of my imagination are sparking with a fiery energy as they are born out of the very thing that was their destroyer. For the first time in the longest time, ideas are flying through me and streaming out my fingers into the ink on a page. Old words are reawakening. New words are taking their first breath. Finally I am creating again. This act of creativity/creation is awakening my very soul and stitching the broken pieces of my grieving heart together again into something stronger and beautiful. The ideas are flying so fast and so abundantly that it is all I can do to capture them in the net of my page.
How do you net stars?
I can’t net all the stars and some of these words, some of these ideas, like the stars in the night sky will die even as their trailing light births new words, new ideas and new stars of creativity. But I don’t need to net all the stars flying past me at light-year speed. It is enough that there are stars being birthed and that even as some will die, more will be born. My galaxy looks different now, forever changed. Life is chaotic and messy, tragic and broken. But life is also beautiful and precious, hopeful and whole. The seasons of a life are many and constantly in flux, changing even as they change us. The seasons of Creativity are also constantly in flux, ebbing and flowing, dimming and brightening. Life and creativity is a paradox of opposites, of winters and summers, of rusting leaves and fragile blossoms, and that is a beautiful reality.
I will net enough stars out of this black hole, enough stars to remind myself that I am breathing, that I have this time, this present moment. This present moment is all that we have but what lies in our control is what we choose to do with it. For me, right now, I am birthing stars.
Out of destruction, creation.
Out of death, birth.
Out of darkness, light.
Out of grief, hope.
Out of chaos, stars.