Last week I checked off my last have-to on my to-do list. Last, for now. During the other 11 months there is almost always a frantic side to me. A rushing. An inability to breathe deeply. Racing from bed to shower to work to workout to errands and chores and stuff to more work to finally bed for months on end. Doesn’t most everyone live such a manic pace? But this week, this July first Monday morning came and drifted into afternoon then into dusky evening, and besides lacing my sneakers for a hilly hot mid-day run, deliciously meandering, I did nothing that felt like a job. Just flitted from one spot to another following sunbeams like a roadside daisy. By evening my lungs were tired from use. Oh July, you are a glorious celebratory month of lazy hazy daydreams.
Meanwhile, along with 328 million twitter users, the President in his glittering tower is doing his best to unnerve me with his fear tactics, his nasty taunts, his juvenile rebuttals, his dogged refusal to do more than pull down, his marvelous inability to build up, with 140 characters a dose. If you succumb to following him, daily one will find their heart in their mouth, their fists balled, their shoulders up, and this my dear is not what July is for; no, not at all. Even if you’re hopping on the subway or freeway at dawn, to spend your day head-down while desk-bound, there must be moments for looking up and out. This President is trying to take joy away from you, from me, from all those little children floating on inflatable pizza-slices in backyard above-ground pools from coast to coast. He is trying, desperately it appears, to stop the currents of decency and trust. To cut us down. To bring us back to newspaper headlines and TV banter and twitter buzz. But not for real news, just hate stemming from his terse wordage. I don’t see how he could do any differently. He ran on a platform of dismantling and is hell-bent on that course with little consequence for those of us who walk the pavement below his penthouse. Would it be too much for me to say he is doing the Devil’s work? If my definition of Satan is the same as the greatest metaphysical poet, William Blake, then I can make the case, with some help.
In the 1938 brilliance of Brenda Ueland: If You Want To Write, you can hear her argument for yourself:
“...this was the man [William Blake] who said most of us mix up God and Satan. He said that what most people think is God is merely prudence, and the restrainer and inhibitor of energy, which results in fear and passivity and “imaginative dearth.”
And what we so often call “reason” and think is so fine, is not intelligence or understanding at all, but just this: it is arguing from our memory and the sensations of our body and from the warnings of other people, that if we do such and such a thing we will be uncomfortable. “It won’t apply.” “People will think it is silly.” “No one else does it.” “It is immoral.”
But the only way you can grow in understanding and discover whether a thing is good or bad, Blake says, is to do it. “Sooner strangle an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires.”
For this “Reason” as Blake calls it (which is really just caution) continually nips and punctures and shrivels the imagination and the ardor and the freedom and the passionate enthusiasm welling up in us. It is Satan, Blake said. It is the only enemy of God. “For nothing is pleasing to God except the invention of beautiful and exalted things.” And when a prominent citizen of his time, a logical, opining, erudite, measured rationalistic Know-it-all, [think Trump], warned people against the “mere enthusiasm,” Blake wrote furiously: “Mere Enthusiasm is the All in All!” See? Satan in the sense that which draws us away from our truth; wherein the place we are alive and present and happy and making something wondrous to reflect life is God.
Certainly it isn’t only the President that is acting in an anti-July, Satanist, anti-enthusiastic, anti-free or beautiful manner; no, not him alone. His beehive of suits sucking the pollen from our souls are equally responsible. As is our own insatiable lust for media gawking. We need to stop picking up the smart device and instead do something else. Anything else. Might we instead dive into own imaginative selves, craft our own yet un-navigated sonnet? Fly off our cozy couch and do something zany? Find our art: our “creative impulse,” as Ueland would define: “It is a feeling of love and enthusiasm for something, and in a direct, simple, passionate and true way, you try to show this beauty in things to others, by drawing [or writing or singing or dancing or filming or you name it] it.” For the love of your own self, spend the month making something for yourself. Something you alone might love.
Perhaps this can this be our un-dictated meandering mission this July? To ignore the fear-mongers or doomsayers creeping into our soul and allow for idle time away from those all-pressing tweets and inflammatory posts. Just shut the tweet up. Perhaps find a mural reminding you of love and a cutie-pie to pose with and another to snap away. Let the month be filled with now-ness. Silliness. Moments rich with creative bursts. Imaginative play. Period.