Confessional

hungry and fearless and thirsty and supple …

I’ll tell you a secret … I’ve been a little distracted lately.

Harried.

Fractured.

Busy.

(Which — I’ll tell you — is a very modern and grown-up kind of brokenness.)

But today, I went for a walk in the woods — something I haven’t done for months now. 

I disappeared into a hole in the trees — freckled dark shade and lush underbrush.  I felt alive and at peace, and when I came out, I walked home and rustled through the bookshelves until I found this little gem by Mr. Cummings (or cummings, if you like) … 

It’s a poem, but today I’m saying it like a prayer… For me and for you:

e.e. cummings

May we stay hungry and fearless and thirsty and supple, always. ❤  

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Confessional

Two Roads …

I’ll tell you a secret: for a little while I’ve been standing at a crossroads. Stuck fast. 

Big, hard-edged life choices have always been difficult for me, with my watery, soft-smudged way of seeing the world, and this season is no exception. The roads are diverging for me, and whichever way I choose has the potential to drastically change my future.

I don’t know, I find myself saying often. 

I don’t know. 

But.

The other day I was scrolling through the photo library of my old IPhone 4S — the one that I used to start this little blog, once upon a time — and I stumbled on this photo:

  
Down on the greenway near Carilion, at a bend where the trail meets the river, there’s a spot where you can stand under the intersection of three bridges: the railroad trestle, the roadway, and the pedestrian bridge. I was always caught by the clean architectural beauty of those crisscrossing lines, and I’ve photographed them many times. 

On the day when I took that picture, though, something was different: a solid beam of the most beautiful gold sun shot between the bridges, making a pathway of light on the water. I snapped picture after picture, transfixed.

And then I went home and promptly forgot about it.

But today, staring at that beam of light, I’m struck by the message I was sending to myself so many moons ago:

There is another road. 

One not made by human hands:

  
That’s the road I’m choosing. ❤

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Confessional

this is what my subconscious sounds like …

 

Insomnia Diaries — 7/20/2014

  

if i should be
transformed

then oh — let the gods make me
a bird

to sing my secrets to the ear
unheard.

*

at night the bush below my window
burns —

the nest inside
catching like tinder.

one small bird leaps up,
alight, feathers on fire,

its body beating and beating
against my windowpane

its song one long scream
that tears through my sleep.

*

in the dream that comes later,
it breaks the glass —

(a fist)

(a torch)

and goes careening room to room,
setting the whole house

ablaze.

///

 

{A note on the text:  The excerpt above is part of a brief series on living with insomnia, and it’s taken from my personal Insomnia Diaries … a collection of post-midnight scribblings that help me understand what’s going on in my sleep-deprived brain.

This is darker than my usual fare, and — if I’m being honest — I hesitated to post it.  I am sharing, however, in the hopes that my words might help you understand the insomniac in your life just a little bit better.

And another thing: the subconscious can be a scary place, but it has much to teach us.

For that I’m grateful. ❤ }

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Confessional

Insomnia: a storm & a silver lining…

storm1

It’s true, what I’ve been telling you here over the past two days:  Insomnia is hard.  And it’s dark.

But also, it’s beautiful… and to stay silent about that would be the worst kind of ingratitude.

I know…  I know.  It sounds crazy to say that there could be something magical about night terrors and hypnopompic hallucinations.  Long lonely hours awake in the dark.  But the truth is, some of my most interesting creative ideas surfaced out of the watery margin between the conscious and the subconscious, when I was lying suspended in insomnia’s strange ether of almost-sleep.

I love how surrealist photographer Jenna Martin describes to thephoblographer.com the way insomnia blurs the line between sleeping and waking, and the way it informs her work:

“I’m a complete insomniac; it’s something I’ve struggled with my entire life.  I go days at a time without sleeping … And when that happens, reality becomes a bit warped.  You know you’re there but you aren’t really present… When it gets really bad, the line begins to blur and I have a hard time figuring out whether I’m sleeping or awake … or if I’m dreaming while I’m awake.  It’s very hard to explain … These aren’t pictures of my dreams when I’m sleeping, but instead pictures of how I view reality when everything starts blending together.”

(Sidenote:  if you’re interested in Jenna’s insomnia-inspired photography, you can check out her blog here.)

It was during a particularly terrible bout with sleeplessness that I began experimenting with camera movement to capture that blurred sense of reality Jenna describes.  

I discovered the trick almost by accident — during a photo walk, my hands shook so badly that the images dragged, no matter how I tried to hold the camera steady.  I decided to intentionally embrace the camera movement, since it seemed like an honest expression of how I felt at the time, and some of my favorite photographs were the result:

storm3

fallbrave

I’m not sure what to make of all this, except to say that sometimes, our dark fearful places are really just invitations into creativity and innovation.

And whether you’re sleepless or dreaming peacefully tonight, I hope you’ll imagine your way into a little creative magic of your own. ❤

 

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Confessional

Flashback: what an insomniac doesn’t tell you…

Yesterday, I told you that I’d spend this week talking a little bit about my struggle with insomnia:

Its darkness…  

And its light. 

The post below is the first I ever wrote about my disordered sleeping patterns … And as far as I can tell, it’s the *only* post in which I ever talked about it overtly.

Somehow, that seemed like a good place to begin.

*

I like the world best by morning light…

morninglight

The way it pushes into the room through every opening.

The way it fills up every space with an invitation to begin, now, while the canvas is blank and the page uncluttered.

I am an insomniac.  I have been for all my life, starting from the moment I was born.  I screamed through every night as a child, terrorized by my own thoughts — the regrettable dark underside of a vivid imagination.

As an adult, I’ve learned to wear my sleeplessness with quiet tolerance.  To rub concealer over the dark circles and go smiling into the day.  Still, I often say that Insomnia is the loneliest small town in the world – Population 1 – and in that loneliness and silence comes a cacophony of thought, words, wonderings, memories, shadows, dark stains in the gray matter, neurons like flashbulbs, firing and firing into the dark.

And then the morning comes.

And the thoughts sort themselves back into boxes.

The lids of the boxes are closed.

The light spills in again.

Those first moments when I open my eyes and drink in the clear white sundazzle — those are the ones I treasure most.

I take a deep breath, and I begin. ❤

 
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the things I don’t want you to know about me…

awake

Can I tell you a secret?  

Almost a month ago, our little corner of the world observed Insomnia Awareness Day … and I didn’t write a word.

That’s bothering me now.  

Truth be told, I make an excellent voice for those of us who suffer from insomnia.  I came into the world sleepless and howling, and I’ve pretty much stayed that way ever since.  But I don’t post often about my disordered sleep, at least partly because … well… It’s dark.

Insomnia is hard.  It’s not just hard because it’s exhausting (and sometimes it is).  It’s hard because on a lot of nights, the things happening in my amygdala are honestly kinda terrifying.  And I figure most people don’t want to hear about the shadows tearing around my room at 4 a.m.

But if you visit this site regularly in hopes of finding light and beauty and magic, you should know this:  some mornings, the light finds its way here because I have to fight for it. 

And while that’s hard, I think it’s sort-of beautiful, too.

With that in mind, this week you’ll find a short series of posts about life in my strange, sleepless little nighttime universe. I’ll include one or two entries from my personal Insomnia Diaries — post-midnight scribblings that help me make sense of what’s going on in my overactive brain.  I find them interesting from an artistic perspective, but more importantly, they testify to an important truth:

Most of the time, we push into the light through a hallway of shadows.

I hope you’ll join me, but if this part of the journey isn’t for you, rest assured that these pages will be back to normal by the weekend.

Sweet dreams, friends.  I’m grateful you’re here. ❤

 

 

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Confessional

Ask me anything …

ashley

Can I tell you a secret?  It’s weird, keeping a blog.  I post photographs and snippets of poetry — sometimes shamelessly personal prose.  I dream in blazing black-and-white, and then I come here and splash those dreams on the screen.  Still, though …  There’s so very little you know about me.  

And you know what else?  There’s probably even less I know about you.

So today I thought we’d try to change that.

*

My proposal is this: ask me anything.  Pose whatever question you’d like in the comment section — whether it’s serious or silly, profound or profoundly mundane — and I’ll try to answer it, either there or in a separate post.  In exchange, all I ask is that you reveal something interesting about you. 

(Think of it as a meeting of new friends around a big, round table.  Imagine there’s coffee.  Or a bottle of your favorite wine.)

As always, I reserve the right to delete any comment that makes me uncomfortable.  That said, I’ll sincerely try to meet whatever genuine and thoughtful question you throw at me… whether I get two questions, or twenty.

listen2

Cheers, friends… Here’s to many sweet conversations to come. ❤

 

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