Author and pigeon-fancier Julia Cameron nearly ruined my life. Almost 30 years ago, I delved into Cameron’s self-help book, The Artist’s Way, following her instructions of writing several pages every morning until I had filled enough notebooks to make my home a fire hazard
In the summer of ’94, I spent a week at a folk school in Door County, WI where on one morning I sat on a slab of limestone to contemplate a garden of wildflowers, while fellow students walked a nearby sawdust path through the woods to our classroom. One student, a woman named Rose, who was as old as the years accumulated thus far in that 20th century, paused in her parade to question me. “Are you a person?” she asked.
Where do you live? You might reside in the town where you were born or you may have moved around so much you’re not sure where you are anymore. You might have found a connection with a place in your travels that’s so strong it feels like home to you. If you’re a writer, artist, or a professional daydreamer, you probably live most of the time in your imagination.
My friend, composer Karel Suchy, calls it KeRacine, pronouncing the word, in his cool Czech accent, like you’d say, “ker-o-sene.” With this term, he’s referring to the Wisconsin cities of Kenosha and Racine, but it’s more than a mashup of names for him. He’s talking about a powerful energy, fueled by the the creative culture that burns bright here.
I’m convinced I was a border collie in another life. While I lack some attributes of this breed – agility, high energy, and intelligence – I share a common instinct for herding. Dogs may do it for the purpose of providing protection; I do it when I dream up projects and need people to turn them into reality.