I have been picking a word each day to serve as inspiration for these daily events I’ve been hosting on Facebook. The word inspires these daily writings, too. The truth is the words kind of pick me. I know that sounds woo woo but it’s true: they emerge, through the inky waters of my consciousness, like the answers inside an old Magic 8 ball. as if I’m looking down, after having asked a question and I’m waiting for guidance, which in many ways I am; I mean, to live creatively is to constantly be asking for inspiration.
So I let words come to me throughout the day. It’s good if I know the word before I go to bed so my mind can begin to cook with it.
Last night I had no word. I was forcing it—maybe the word is chaos, no. Maybe it’s suffering but I wasn’t feeling it, which I guess is a good thing. This morning, lying in bed I thought of the word sabbath, something someone wrote in the comment thread yesterday when I said I was taking tomorrow off. But it didn’t feel right. I’m not going to say I started to panic--Oh, God! I don’t have a word! Ok, maybe I did a little. I can enter freefall so easily.
I finally got out of bed and decided to make myself something to drink.
Bobby and I started doing intermittent fasting at the end of January—it’s really been a good experience. I don’t feel like I’m on a diet. Which is crucial. And I’m not restricting, also crucial. We eat between 12pm and 8pm. It’s a very simple, clear boundary and I do well with those.
It’s suggested to start your day with a glass of warm water with vinegar, but that’s nasty. The idea is to have something that will set the acid in your stomach to improve digestion all day —lemons, I thought. I love lemons so I’ll do that.
Standing in the kitchen, I sliced open the lemon, removed the seeds and began to squeeze the juice into the glass of warm water. This lemon, man, it was a spectacular lemon, the juice burst out—squirting into, but also beyond, the glass, drops all over the counter. And, as if it had squirted into my frontal lobe, I had it—the word of the day: sour.
I love sour things. And I love when sour things are sweetened with sugar. I could dive into a vat of lemon curd and happily die. Theres a lemon slushy they make at a restaurant in LA that I really love, it’s essentially ice blended with lemon juice and simple syrup and then poured Into a big glass with a bunch of muddled fresh mint. It’s a perfect drink.
One of my longtime best friends HATES lemons, I’ve seen her lose her mind when a server delivered her iced tea with a huge lemon slice in it, when she had expressly said, “No lemon, please.”
One time she was driving back home from her parents’, about a two hour drive, late at night, traffic was light but then the cars started to slow down and soon they came to a complete stop. Turns out a truck full of lemons had turned over and thousands and thousands of lemons were pulverized on the road and she had to sit in that sour, pulpy air for hours.
I’m not laughing at her misfortune, well, I’m kind of laughing, but come ON. That’s funny.
I hate the idea that the things we don’t want are actually called to us, that we somehow create the very things we worry about. What a cruel joke it would be if all of my advanced and expert worrying was actually making things happen that I fear might happen. Talk about something to worry about.
When I was 18, I spent a long weekend with a friend in the south of France. We had taken the train and ended up in the town of Menton on the coast. We had no money, really, and slept under these slender boats that belonged to a private beach club. We were roused early in the morning by the guys who worked the club. They were unfolding the chairs and lounges and they discovered us when they began turning the slender wooden boats on their bottoms. “Levee vous,” they whispered, “Psst, get up, you have to leave.”
Menton is known for its lemon trees and walking through town in the early morning before the shops were open, the late spring air was filled with a heavenly scent—lemon blossoms and fresh baked bread.
Sour means a bad countenance. When relationships end we say they’ve gone sour. The most famous of all sours, though, the most pungent, if you will, is sour grapes—it speaks of resentment, bad sportsmanship, bitterness. This is something I worry about—becoming bitter.
In the musical Caroline or Change, there’s a show stopping number called Lot’s Wife. It’s one of the most indelible shows I ever saw during my years in New York. The show is about a black maid, Caroline, in 1960s Louisiana. She is beset by troubles and hardship. The final lyric of that song also floats up from the murkiness when I need it, Caroline sings, “Don't let my sorrow make evil of me.”
I’m not a religious person but maybe that’s a good way to send us into the sabbath after all. To pray—however we make prayer, and to whomever or whatever we pray--don’t let the sorrow of this present moment make evil of me.