I’ve been making lists. I made one at an exquisite bar the night before last, sitting under giant hanging squid lamps - peach and coral and apricot glass spirals glowing over leaves of paper journal. Black napkin. Ring of water makes a blacker puckering skin in the center when I lift the glass. And I talked about tattoos with the bartender. He has lived here for 3 months. Under the sea creature lamps.
I wrote down a list of Things I Am while I listened to his voice. “Human” was the last bullet point.
This same night I was given a free chocolate filled with caramel from a very tiny – tinier than me – little lady with very brown hair and the most silver silver high heels I have ever seen. Those were stars, not shoes. The chocolate was striped, chessboard drizzle, white lines like railroad tracks cracking in an earthquake and melting in my hot lava mouth.
This very same night I was given a painting of a woman in an aqua skirt and white shoes with the head of a bighorn sheep. Incredible.
The sun was still up while all this happened in the world. And what’s amazing is the way our sun on our world fills this section of Downtown Louisville – 4th Street between Broadway and Chestnut. Fishbowl of gold and electricity – same thing as glowing glass squids in a bar, same thing as stars on a tiny woman’s feet.
I wrote that for you because I felt inspired. Because I am “Human” and humans go around getting inspired all the time.
Inspiration: Here is the thing that will happen tonight as author Michael Dowd speaks at this year’s annual Kentucky Interfaith Power and Light’s Awards Dinner with his presentation “Beyond Sustainability: A Realistically Inspiring Vision”.
Starting very soon – at 6:30pm – this writer and former pastor will explore how our mainstream understanding of science and the universe can both shape our relationship to long-term sustainability and inspire hope. Dowd, the author of the acclaimed book, Thank God for Evolution, will use insight from his work and activism as both a man of religion and a naturalist to examine how the seemingly perpetual gap between science and spirituality can be bridged: a marriage between a “sacred view of death” and informed respect for the ground under our feet. Tonight’s dinner will be held at St. Paul United Methodist Church and will honor all efforts being made within the community to inspire cooperation and celebrate the benefits of an open interfaith society.
Today I made another list for someone who asked for Things That Bring Hope. That list was very long. Some things I wrote to her: “David Bowie”, “Banjos”, “Sharing cigarettes with strangers” and “When the sun comes in from the west under the bridge and looks like coins on the river and the water looks exactly like thick, whipped frosting. Exactly like it.”
She is a Christian and I am an Atheist and we inspire each other.
Image: Courtesy of KIPL Awards Dinner Press Release
(Also, I’m still inspired by Night-Before-Last.
I reached out and touched – finger-to-finger, across the table – a silver ring bought cheap at an expensive shop. I got cold in the night on the patio between Broadway and Chestnut when the sun was gone, and I belted a white shirt over my dress because that’s what my friend had to keep me warm. He’s 10,000 times bigger than me and it was a ship sail of cotton around me. I drove him home because his car wiggles from side-to-side right now no matter how you turn the wheel. We bump heads before he gets out.
Alone now. I take my cold self out of the turquoise truck. I take my satchel, my belly with the dot of chocolate, the knot of keys like bright electric snakes in my hand at the door lock. I take my Bighorn Woman wrapped in purple tissue paper. I take us all down the sidewalk, over cement covered in shimmering ice-chip light from rain and streetlamps and broken glass and whatever. Orange snow cone. I take us over my own black sidewalk-chalk shadow 3 miles long.
Step. Step. Step. Up the stahhh-eps! – whoops, there . Motion light lantern. Early spring moth. “Please Keep Door Locked At All Times”. Yessiree. I take the journal with the paper and the list of Things I Am and it says that last of all I am “Human”. I can’t remember what I wrote first.
I will have the Bighorn Sheep Woman in the aqua skirt and white scalloped heels with her long arms and long legs and beautiful sloping, musical instrument shoulders - cello shapes, violin shapes. Her limbs in shades of sand and tan and tawny – “Sable”. I will have this woman framed. Herd Animal Lady. For my wall. For my living room. Where I am living a very, very Human life).