A hard part of this cancer struggle has been my lack of interest in art. I haven’t been taking photos for myself. I haven’t been seeing beauty in the tiny miracles that surround me. My creative process has become very primitive. Getting out of bed in the morning. Managing a smile. Taking my supplements. Creating healthy cells. That's where my creativity is directed. That's where my time is spent. And it should be. There is no mocking base level creativity. There is no discrediting survival. Some tend the fire to keep it burning; and others are able to paint the fire. Both have their importance and meaning. But, for me, there is an absence of joy in tending the fire, without the energy or ability to dance with it.
So when my daughter asked... really BEGGED… for us to get pumpkins when we were grocery shopping, her desire to create, combined with my full on panic that I'd been so busy tending my own fire that I'd forgotten that Halloween was in just mere days... meant I had to comply. (turns out I thought it was the end of October, when it was really just the end of September. Why the hell do they start selling holiday stuff so early??)
Here in Hawaii, if you carve your pumpkin, you've got, at best, 48 hours before it becomes a soggy, moldy, bug infested mess. So we've taken to painting or drawing on them so they last longer. She saw that they had white pumpkins. Neither of us had seen those before. And we agreed that those would make the best canvas.
We got our groceries and our pumpkins and set them aside as life took over for the day. The pumpkins found themselves on the console table in our main living space. So I was looking at them a lot as I moved from one daily task to another. And suddenly, I sat down on the couch and just looked at those pumpkins for a bit. And after about a minute, I said out loud, “do we have a sharpie?” “Mom, remember, you have a rule of no sharpies in the house”. And alas, she was right. Sharpies had been at the center of many a wall and/or furniture loss-inducing debacle when the kids were younger. So I did have a strict “no sharpies in the house” rule. But now I was in need of a sharpie. And thankfully, my kids have followed in my footsteps of recognizing when a rule no longer serves it's purpose. And so materialized a sharpie in a matter of minutes, and I quickly had a white pumpkin in my lap, drawing, with permanence, onto its surface.
And I could observe as I was doing it, that something was back. Looking at something and allowing it to spark interest. Letting that interest snowball into an idea. And then letting that idea become a nagging that led me to say something out loud, and then move in that direction. There was a joy I felt as I made those first lines in black sharpie on that white pumpkin. That there was space for my creativity to shift from basic survival, back into frivolity. And I relaxed a bit. Which was nice.
I'm not sure why I chose a sugar skull. Perhaps yet another form of rebellion towards my no sugar diet?? But it was what I saw in my mind, and so what I moved forward with. Seemed fitting for a pumpkin. And it was only as my daughter sat down next to me and started to work on her own pumpkin, that she started to talk to me about sugar skulls. How she likes them because they take something scary and make it beautiful. And how she loves that in Mexico, they're used as a way to relive happy memories, instead of being sad.
Maybe my sharpie-sugar-skull-pumpkin means something more on a grander scale. Maybe there's some miraculous lesson to it; something I'm intended to unravel about my fear of death. But I'm not even inclined to look for anything beyond having a moment to be frivolously creative with my youngest. Because allowing my energy to shift from the necessary and required, to the unnecessary, for even a hot minute... feels more than enough.