Growing Pains

I’m getting old, I tell myself as I peel back the wrapper of a Russel Stover s’mores in the grocery store. It’s funny how just yesterday I was on a walk and could smell roasting marshmallows and immediately the thought came to my mind of how much I wanted s’mores for myself.

Then, today, I’m walking through not one, but two stores, and I spy not one, but two packages of pre-packaged s’mores. Finally, I concede. At Albertson’s, I shell over the two bucks to buy the mini, convenient package for myself. I step outside, take off my mask, and take a bite of the sweet treat.

The first taste feels like a glimmer – a return to my childhood, of roasting marshmallows on the 4th of July, but once the taste envelopes my mouth, I recall it doesn’t taste as sweet as my memories and it tastes ironically just too sweet for my palate now.

I’ve been working with my inner child lately in between establishing a career; to me, these two contrasting endeavors fight for my attention at times. One part of me wants to take extremely long walks — to go farther than I’ve ever journeyed before, while the other part of me turns in yet another job application. A friend mentions the word growing pains to me and I think growing pains. Growing pains.

Is that what it means to grow up?

I’m trying to find the space to remember a job isn’t your identity as much as Americans continue to ask, “What do you do for a living?” I’m trying to grow through these pains, which I’ve found to be of me and not me.

So, today, I bought a sugary treat from the store. And when I got home, I decided to write this post, not sure why. It’s a bit different in style for me, but I’ve decided growing pains can be vulnerable, candid, hard, and soft at the same time.

Some days, it can be heavy, in unwinding an ever-constant process of healing.

Some days, it can be as light and simple as picking up s’mores from the store.

Tapping Into Inspiration

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Pexels.com

One of the questions many writers, artists, and creators alike contemplate is where does inspiration come from. Is it within our blood? Do we stick a needle in our veins and funnel it all out when we create something new, whether it be a painting, a poem, or a story? Or, on the contrary, do we journey far to discover our inspiration in the ether? In this way, do we leave ourselves and go somewhere else in order to bring back some wisdom?

I believe there is no either-or for where inspiration comes from. I think we create from a communal source, shared between us all, but as the words flow, we channel our unique expression from this wellspring. Inspiration and creation occur from within and without, meaning that it funnels through our instruments and tools, but it also is accessed from the universal source we all share.

In this manner, I believe anyone can access the wisdom within this collective consciousness; all one needs to do is tap into that infinite stream of intelligence and inspiration. Then, as creators, we are tasked with the responsibility (and pleasure) of bringing something beautiful into this world.

I think at the end of the day our lives are rife with moments and circumstances, which push us into a place of creation. To imagine better possibilities. To dream less contemptible dreams. To take our hopes and channel them into something immediately accessible for all.

So, I suppose in this way, we all are tasked with the responsibility to create through the contrast we experience in order to experience brilliant new realities. An artist alone cannot herald this vision into the world alone. Rather, it is through each collective creation we make that we birth our own realities moment by moment.

Given this, my final question is this: where do you find inspiration and how do you cultivate it?

A Moment Lasts Forever

I’ve always considered myself a big advocate for the power of the present moment and its seeming permanence despite its temporary, quickly passing nature. When I was younger, I, unlike many others my age, wanted moments to linger forever — my viewpoint perhaps was more nostalgic and romantic compared to my peers. I didn’t want to grow up or grow old; I wanted things to remain, more or less, the same. In this manner, I never could grasp the reasons why people and situations enter your life for seasons, only to depart and move forward on their own respective journeys.

Now, I’m beginning to understand the significance of the moment before me and the moments, which passed over the past few days and past few years. Every moment brought me to this day — to this now moment to unfold from. At the end of the day, I think that means the people who entered my life, if only for a season, could not stay forever because they were never meant to.

There is no tragedy in this passing. Rather, there is an intrinsic beauty in this greeting.

In more ways than one, this notion of goodbyes and hellos inspired much of the writing in my poetry collection Goodbye (Hello). I believe there is a circular nature in our lives and in our goodbyes and hellos. With every passing emerges a new arrival. Death begets life. The universe exists in a place consisting of opposites. Pain and beauty. Love and fear. Bloom and hibernation.

The more I lean into each season, the more I begin to understand how everything intrinsically is tied into this present moment.

And I suppose, in this way, every moment lasts forever.

Revelations from the In-Between

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the spaces of pause and recollection in our journeys — the moments when nothing actually appears to be occurring but is still bubbling and collecting from underneath the surface. The last few months have contained many of these moments for me where in one moment I feel pressed to make a choice and come to a decision about what I’m doing, and perhaps in this way, deciding who I am.

Along this journey, I’ve realized a lot more about who I am and what I’m passionate about — more or less what are the indicators of a life well-lived — one filled with passion, authenticity, integrity, creativity, and above all else unconditional love. After connecting with an old friend and inspiring another to pursue her dreams, I’ve come to the conclusion that I find joy in the smallest of places — in the melting hum of poetry, in open spaces of conversation, in long walks out in nature, in mentoring and teaching others how to take their words and put them onto the page. I’ve found peace in the smallest of things and the smallest of places — in knowing that wherever I’m going or whatever I’ve produced is not my greatest contribution to society, but rather, the meaningful memories and friendships and kind words I have shared with others; all of these things, for lack of a better word, are what I’m proud to cultivate within this place and within my life.

I believe there is power in the in-between for it is the place where all our wildest dreams and doubts and fears find a place to reside, but I have found solace here. So, I’ve decided I will continue to follow everything which lights me up, inspires me, and even terrifies me a little bit — to learn and grow through the contrast I experience and take these messages from the in-between with me every step of the way.

Soften this Sadness

Nobody told me how to use my voice. Nobody told me how to write my poetry although they most certainly tried to.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that it’s difficult to emerge sometimes from challenging situations with a heart full of gratitude and softer eyes for having undergone such tribulations.

But that’s what I strive to do every day — to emerge sweet despite the contrast, which has informed my pathway and candid resolution.

I think that every word I share on this blog and in my life has been marked by the promise to soften to these words and moments in this liminal space.

Because the more I live, the more I’m beginning to realize that those who’ve hurt me didn’t realize they could have realized better in their lives. The way I see it, every emotion at one point existed as suppressed sadness. When I sit with that cardinal fact, I’m left speechless in all honesty.

So, I present you with this oath, this sentimental promise: I will continue writing candidly in this space because every emotion, which has passed before me was once repressed by him and her and all those who did not believe in me because they could not realize better for themselves.

At My Door

I think sometimes about how everything I’ve ever lost has returned to me in one way or another and if it was never recovered then it simply wasn’t meant for me.

I lost my gold necklace with my great grandmother’s Hebrew name last night. I scoured my bedroom, went back to the park, searched by the tree I touched, but still there was nothing to be recovered.

I was certain I would find my necklace beside that white stained tree and it would be gleaming golden — victorious, I would be.

But in that moment I realized something. I have a tendency to linger, to hold onto items and memories, which bring me comfort even when they may no longer be necessary for me on my journey.

I’ve come to adopt a life motto, which is extremely simple and it is just this: what is meant for me will never leave me. It will always return to me.

I’ve failed to mention the amount of times I’ve misplaced this necklace, only for it to return to me in the most random place after a realization and a lesson had been learned in divine timing.

So, I think just this time I’ll let it go.

I think just this time I’ll leave this golden memory with the comfort that everything — every person, place, and experience, which is meant for me will never leave me and will return to my door when I’m ready to receive them.

Nostalgia’s Rosy Eyes

Romantic Soul by Ron Hicks

Lately, I’ve been contemplating the role nostalgia plays in our lives as we journey forward through all our challenges and respective triumphs.

I honestly believe nostalgia comes from a desire for safety and comfort. Every time I’ve felt nostalgic in the past, I’ve noticed how the feelings I experience aren’t necessarily a desire to return to the exact time I’m reflecting back on. Rather, these scattered feelings bring me to a place of deep and earnest longing for a time when everything felt certain, warm, and comforting.

Now, in light of the pandemic and the fight/flight responses our brains all are naturally working through, it only makes sense to indulge in nostalgia for a time before the pandemic and before masks and this madness.

Every day, it appears that another area of conflict appears on our door side. Another day equals another conflict —another concern, another worry, which appears insurmountable to even us.

Given this, I’ve been reflecting on why we are nostalgic over the course of our lives. What purpose does nostalgia serve? And why do we linger in past memories through tinted rose-colored glasses?

In the end, I consider nostalgia to be laced in a moment, which never truly existed — a moment when everything appeared to be certain, brilliant, and fulfilling.

And so we return to our childhoods. We return to the playgrounds of our youth. We return to the first kisses, which caught us head over heels. And lastly, we return to the moment before everything unfolded before us.

Because even now we desire to trace the elusive “what-if’s.”

What if I had stayed in his/her/or their arms?

What if I lingered another day in a moment of sustained comfort?

I highly doubt nostalgia will ever leave us, but we might reconsider how we utilize this emotion as we face every challenge in our lives.

The Weight of Memories

The weight of your memories can only embrace you for a little while before you let that furniture go.

Ilyssa Goldsmith, Goodbye (Hello),
”Beloved”
Miranda by John William Waterhouse

I’ve been thinking about how all our memories occupy a space in our minds and in our hearts, composing a sizable print of who we are — an endless cycling of people who loved us, who harmed us, who said beautiful and monstrous words, too.

What I mean by this is that we are the amalgamation of all the people who have come into our lives, for their imprint will stay with us to our very dying day. And, perhaps, this might sound dark or ill-brooding when pressed to the page, but I honestly don’t believe it to be that way.

See, I was discussing the weight of our memories with my friend Sierra yesterday and was caught by this idea. Oftentimes, we see healing pressed as a linear journey set with distinct trail markers. We are told to leave the past behind and to forget the weight of our memories at each passing juncture, but I don’t believe we should forget our memories.

I don’t think we should forget the memories of those who said one kind word  to us in one moment and another cruel word to us in the next moment. This, in the end, is the contrast, which comprises every moment of our lives. As human beings, I believe we are meant to sit with the moments, which made us feel good — the tender ones of first kisses, of late nights and early twilight conversations.

And yet, we are meant to sit with the weight of specters, too: of harsh words meant to sting, of the disappointments, which have marked us in the past by those we cherished as well.

Here lies the very principle of our lives. It is an act of proper unfoldment. It is to say I may not linger with you or keep you in my life, but I will remember you. 

I will honor you. 

I will cherish you because you have made me who I am today.

And to live in bitterness or to scorn the space of all these memories would be to say I might as well not have lived to this very day.

An Ancestor’s Kiss

My Grandma and Grandpa at My Parents’ Wedding

Today, I’ve felt such a warm current of love flowing through me. It feels like a kiss from my ancestors, reminding me they’re here with me now, despite the metaphorical and physical distance between us.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I don’t believe energy ever really dies. I believe it continues onward and upward despite the transition some souls make from the corporeal form into the beyond.

Suffice it to say, this transition can be difficult for us to witness, especially when it comes to losing the ones we love in this life.

But, despite this, I’ve come to appreciate the energetic transience, which marks the constellation of memories and love, which exist to me even now.

I love the stories passed down to me of my grandfather, a dapper dresser and dancer. I love the stories of my grandmother, a compassionate elementary school teacher. And perhaps above all else, I love the silly memories, too, of my grandpa on my mom’s side who loved his whipped cream on his hot cocoa and sometimes drank it like a child.

I think I’ll always keep these memories with me.

And it’s on days like today that I’m grateful to be a purveyor of all these beautiful memories.

I’m grateful to keep them written on this page and in the silent, speaking corners of my heart and soul.

Desiccated Moth

In Healed Ford Fusion: Desiccated Moth⁣
By Ilyssa Goldsmith⁣

Recovered moth — desiccated in healed Ford Fusion (K-95 mask on)⁣

For the man who walked over to Albertson’s to pick up his lunch ⁣
I contemplated your meal of choice and its commonality⁣

Now a black mask (curtain) and memorial candle lies on your service desk⁣
Service (were you in service to others when they serviced you) ⁣

In death⁣

Today, they return to their work (on bodies of cars in need of reorientation to this world) ⁣

My Dad’s car could not breathe cold air (onto me)⁣
And now you cannot breathe (and be reserviced in this life) ⁣
I contemplate the mechanics of this contemplation — of bodies and bodies and bodies (and cars and cars and cars)⁣

And now you⁣
I don’t know you ⁣
I don’t know you⁣

But I knew you⁣
And I know you⁣

And now a black mask lies over your desk (in memorial)⁣
A permanent mark for the man who did not wear a mask (who was kind)⁣
Who made cars breathe⁣
until he could no longer breathe⁣

And now you⁣
I don’t know you⁣
But I know you⁣

I say as I recover a desiccated moth in my ⁣
Dad’s car ⁣