childhood / rivers / creativity

I spent New Year’s in Philly, where I grew up and along free-flowing waters (Wissahickon, Schuylkill, Cresheim Creek). It’s a strange thing to go back somewhere that is both deeply familiar and newly strange. It shoves me into a depth of attention that I don’t normally inhabit. I noticed a purple berry I’d never seen before, a new green trim on the porch doors of my childhood house, the way the alleyways welcome you home between each street.

I’m working through “The Artist’s Way” and in it Julia Cameron says, “the reward for attention is always healing.”

I was exploring the city with two girlfriends and we set New Year’s intentions in the bit of woods where we used to walk our dogs when I was a kid. My friend Samantha paused to identify a tree with still-clinging green leaves—the attention of an herbalist, a healer.

In “Women Who Run With the Wolves,” Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes talks about the “river beneath the river,” the source of creativity.

“Once that great underwater river finds its estuaries and branches in our psyches, our creative lives fill and empty, rise and fall in seasons just like a wild river. These cycles cause things to be made, fed, fall back, and die away, all in their own right time, and over and over again.”

Collage made from Lapham’s Quarterly and Kinfolk while listening to Sun Kil Moon.

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