That Little Flame That Tells You Who You Are

looking eastAnd now it’s October. This morning we actually had a few moments of rain…a brief passing shower, almost like a figment of our imagination, just enough to get a fleeting whiff of the way rain smells. The deck was christened with a few drops that evaporated quickly and left no evidence.

Yesterday I walked with some friends at the state park to the Gaviota wind caves. It was, appropriately enough, windy. Howlingly windy.  And hot.  But I’m plodding along. I had a terribly regressive day earlier this week, which took me by surprise. I thought I was through with those kinds of images and feelings. But no, it doesn’t work that way.

The colors of the earth are dusty browns and grays, tired and thirsty colors, bleached and brittle, glaringly harsh and parched in midday, softer when the sun begins to sink, as above, looking east, where you see the hills in the reflected glow of sunset.

I’ve been working on the oral history website, and I intend to tell you about it soon with all the hoopla it deserves. I’m grateful to have recently found a new story-gathering accomplice in this project, and she is helping to breathe new life into it.

I’m  trying to be chipper and useful, even when I am neither.  I’m trying to muster up enthusiasm, even when my inspiration flags.  And I’m writing some, not judging it, just doing it.

I shall close this post with some advice excerpted from a commencement speech by Patti Smith that I recently bumped into via Brain Pickings or someplace like that. It’s kind of a pep talk, but sometimes that’s what we need. Also, she refers here to the character of Pinocchio, who, in the original story by the Italian writer Carlo Collodi, was actually not very endearing, but we’ll let it pass.  In Patti’s narrative:

Pinocchio went out into the world. He went on his road filled with good intentions, with a vision. He went ready to do all the things he dreamed, but he was pulled this way and that. He was distracted. He faltered. He made mistakes. But he kept on. Pinocchio, in the end, became himself — because the little flame inside him, no matter what crap he went through, would not be extinguished. We are all Pinocchio. And do you know what I found after several decades of life? We are Pinocchio over and over again — we achieve our goal, we become a level of ourselves, and then we want to go further. And we make new mistakes, and we have new hardships, but we prevail. We are human. We are alive. We have blood.

She continues:

When I left home, I asked my father what advice he could give me. My father was very intelligent, very well-read — he read all the great books, all the great philosophers. But when I asked his advice, he told me one thing: Be happy. It’s all he said. So simple. I’m telling you, these simple things — taking care of your teeth, being happy — they will be your greatest allies. Because when you’re happy, you ignite that little flame that tells you and reminds you who you are. And it will ignite, it will animate your enthusiasm for things — it will enforce your work. Be happy, take care of your teeth, always let your conscience be your guide.

I like that. I’m signing off now to putter. And floss.

Be happy, Pinocchio.

This entry was posted in Finding Hope, Memoir, On Writing, Ranch Life and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to That Little Flame That Tells You Who You Are

  1. Lovely as always, Cynthia! Patti Smith is one of my heroes. So are you.

  2. David Shearer says:

    Good advice from a rock star. Take care of your teeth…

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