Swimming with crocodiles

After my last post, I was compelled to paint this picture. And I’m also compelled to admit in the spirit of pure honesty, I’ve never really done an Esther Williams-type swim with crocodiles. It was more like, while I was lolling in warm salty water, I heard a muchacho say, “hey, señorita, don’t go swimming in there. There might be crocodiles. ” And then I heard gales of laughter. And one afternoon I swam in a lake where, later that night, I would go hunting crocodiles. Or maybe we were hunting alligators. I’m not sure. At night, in the liquid black water, I could see shining eyes of some large critters.  But the only thing we  caught was the last round of beer at a local cantina.

But the illusion of danger was still there. And there’s something about that type of risk that makes a person feel free.

I have floated through cathedrals of mangrove roots among clouds of seahorses, I’ve snorkled over forests of coral and scared a baby barracuda. But those toothier denizens of the agua?  We’ve never come face to face. But I’ve flirted from a distance.

The eyes have it

Ricë Freeman-Zachary, at Notes from the Voodoo Cafe posted the Nadine Stair poem. You know, the one in which she talks about what she’d do if she could live her life over. She’d make more mistakes, be sillier, eat ice cream.

Hmm, well, I was one of those people who decided at an early age to live differently. I climbed mountains, swam rivers (with crocodiles!), and ate a lot ice cream. I didn’t live sanely for the first half of my life. Yeah, it was fun. Yeah, it made me what I am today: A person with a lot of unusual experiences, great memories. The problem was, I didn’t really apply myself to anything but experiencing. So now, well, there’s a lot I do without.  So for the last 10 years I’ve been doing the sane thing, with a raincoat and hotwater bottle, trying to make a parachute with which my misspent youth can land more softly into old age.

Sort of.

Problem is,  I can’t seem to shake the need to live creatively. I can’t shake the obsessive need to draw and paint, to tell stories, to sing and play music, even if it means I don’t study something useful, like accounting or database design. Sometimes I get discouraged, and vow to stop all that watercolor and charcoal activity. Pack away the flute and whistle.

But then I read books like Ricë’s book, Creative Time and Space; Making Room for Making Art. It gets me going again, makes me realize that there is a place in the world for people like me, and that sometimes some of us can earn a living. It’s like a little jet pack, boosting me to create every time I dip into it.

And I’m trying hard to live creatively, even while I’m wearing a raincoat and lugging around that hot water bottle.  I often get to climb, if not a mountain, at least a hill. And I occasionally eat ice cream.

But I have given up the crocodiles. For a while. At least until I’ve got some sort of parachute patched together. Then who knows where I’ll land.