Forget divine blasts of inspiration and fantasies of specialness. A slow slog toward mastery has unmatched gifts that you won't recognize until you commit.
This beauty of a piece, this joy, which I’m reading in the dark next to my sleeping husband whom I don’t want to disturb but too bad because THIS WAS SO FUNNY—this is some real how-to-live shit. What if you just wrote the funniest, humblest little bit of scripture? You know? If you’re giving anyone on Earth that extra freedom-feeling and chance at joy on this hard planet, that’s not less than ANYTHING.
You’re the goddamn best.
When I see an Ask Polly email my heart lights up. Beautiful uplifting heady words form the first steps of my day in the timbre of hope and gladness. Incredibly I relayed the same story yesterday, about my first singing lesson at 50 where I was singing The Rose, and also burst into flames, I mean tears, much to the bewilderment of my tutor. ‘And the soul afraid of dying, that never learns to live’ were the lines thar bowled me over as I recalled how many of the things I longed to do I’d overlooked. It’s a day that reminded me of the soul inside urging to surface. I do believe when we are present in the moment and loving where we are it’s the soul saying ‘remember ME?’
Every year on Christmas day, my family and I watch It's A Wonderful Life. Despite the number of rewatches, every year the final scenes touch me the same - when George returns to his imperfect life after seeing the world without him in it, and his heart is overflowing with joy and gratitude for every piece of it. Every year, the magic of that movie lights my whole life up with that same deep joy and gratitude - my messy and difficult and lovable family, my hang-ups, my to-do list, my dissatisfaction, are all awash in sheer beauty and presence and love!
Polly, your writing does the same for me. It so often thrusts me into that immediate, loving, present space you talk about so often, even on a normal ass Thursday, even though I have so much I want to change about myself, even though I wish I exercised more, even though I feel tense so often, etc etc etc... it all feels okay, and even magical. What art your writing is, and what a gift it is. This piece in particular really really did it for me today. Thanks so much for everything. <3
This was just the motivation I needed not to skip my comics meet up today. :)
This is lovely. Also saw your note at the end offering free subscriptions to those who are struggling. You're a good egg Polly.
You articulate this feeling so beautifully. Whenever I have these moments of transcendence, I always question it a little-- was that real? Was I really connecting to the cosmos or am I a complete lunatic? Especially if I am alone and creating something from the spirit of pure passion, rather than doing something approved by capitalism. Thanks for validating these little moments. They are so, so real.
I've been thinking about my journey of creative mastery through the framework of fermentation. Capitalism values the end product—the finished novel, the successful business, or the “fluency” in the foreign language. The time it takes to master something isn’t really something that is honored in this culture. Being in process is not that sexy or marketable so it’s no wonder we try to get out this stage as soon as possible. But it is process that allows us to actually change, to question the limiting beliefs and stories we’ve been given by our culture and society. When we allow ourselves to ferment, we allow ourselves to shape-shift, access our inner wisdom, and become forces of nurturing, healing energy for our planet. When we are genuinely called on a soul journey, it usually one of fermentation. We must sit in our humanness and confront our vulnerability and fragility to learn anything worthwhile.
Full post is here:
I relate to this so much. Thank you for making me feel a little more understood today 💜
Loved reading this piece. As a middle aged art student, I totally love and follow the slow cultivation frame for my practice. This post was a reminder that it’s perfectly acceptable to go at my own pace 🤩 Thank you for all your amazing posts in 2023.
ALL the feels. I've been hardcore feeling the flatness alternating with the weepiness lately (it's annual). I also loved and memorized this song as a teen so was sniffling as I read. Once again, as you do weekly, you've inspired and encouraged me. This time to embrace being an amateur; to try things that previously seemed ridiculous because I "had no aptitude" so would be wasting time. I've been making little stabs at creating art after years of terror (a result of my elementary art teacher, who I'm certain is burning in hell, holding up my work and encouraging the class to ridicule it), but now I'm thinking I'll be that advanced middle aged lady who will learn about art and have fun making it. You really are a treasure.
Adding my voice to the chorus of gratitude for this one, Polly, and also because I wonder if you would share this with your teacher <3 It's so beautiful. thank you, thank you. I have felt in a creative trough since September and this helps so very much.
I opened up comments to everyone on this post because a reader requested that I do so. Thanks to everyone here for all of your extremely kind remarks and your continued support!
1) this is my favorite column of yours, ever;
2) it made me cry in a dentist waiting room -- like no I’m not crying about dentistry but about (points at phone, sniffling);
3) I love ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ so much but have always hated that that song, but now I feel like I should listen to it again and reevaluate that
You can't brute force inspiration, but you can shape the circumstances in which it flourishes.
Loved how funny and honest this was. Thank you!
This piece is magic. Your magic is the way you write about yourself that makes random-person-me feel seen and helps me see myself. Jeez you make me feel alive!
I am a middle aged woman on a high school teaching sabbatical to write, or in my fantasy, become a better version of myself. I've been writing, but I've also been taking singing lessons, just because I felt like it. I can't even read music. The satisfaction of process, as you put it, has been everything. It happens that "I Don't Know How to Love Him" was the first song I worked on. After reading your piece, I want to go back to it. I don't think I really got it, just like I didn't get surrendering to the force of big small things. Maybe I'm starting to get it. Thank you.
Not to be weird, but I think we'd make great friends.
Yes yes yes! Some days I hesitate to comment because it’s just a reiteration of slamming my fist against the arm of my chair as I leap to my feet a d cry out, “YES, EXACTLY THIS!” I recently entered a new sphere of people who are interesting and creative and most tantalizing of all, don’t see my Big Awesome Energy as TOO MUCH as I have been enduring lately. My creative pilot light relit, intense crushes that lead nowhere, and sudden excited effortful output. In therapy we worked out that it’s just my inner child finally being seen and valued and even embraced (even if the romantic bits didn’t pan out, which flattens things a little) and it’s enough to send me into a total tizzy. I need artistic collaborators desperately, someone to yes-and with, “ooh and then we could” into the night until something marvelous is born. Back in my regular life, everything feels even more unbearably two dimensional. How to cultivate these people who live 130 miles away or find any locally?
Thank you as always for your writing, it also inspires my own.
Resonated with the street mime with too many espressos feeling. And also with the flow state of enjoying something seemingly meaningless, yet perhaps very meaningful after all in that it makes us more alive and present within ourselves and for the people around us. This piece is like a brook trout, fin wimpling in the stream, with beautiful mossy green patterns. Love the references and the humor and the thoughtfulness. Thanks for sharing and I’m glad I found this (thanks Chris Duffy!).