“Let me keep my mind on what matters which is my work, which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished…”
— Mary Oliver
Some Monday mornings, I wake up ready to show the week who’s boss — my head feels clear, my heart feels light, and I can’t wait to sit down at my desk. Then there are the Mondays where my head feels a little more foggy than I’d like it to. I can’t seem to wake up all the way, restart my favorite weekly rhythms, or summon a sense of wonder and anticipation for what the week might hold.
Yesterday, I must admit, was the latter kind of Monday for me. The wind was howling outside my apartment; the windows were spattered with rain that had been falling for days; and I kept waiting for a “Let’s do this!” rush of energy that never quite arrived.
Which was rather strange for me to believe, given that just the night before, on Sunday evening, I’d had the chance to witness this:
And especially this:
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Ever since I learned that Cirque du Soleil’s show Amaluna would be coming to Montevideo, I knew I wanted to try and go, and I used my boyfriend José’s birthday in July as the perfect opportunity to surprise him with two tickets. He’d never seen a Cirque du Soleil show before (and I myself had only seen one), so given José’s love for all things design — especially art installations — I had a feeling it would be inspiring for both of us.
The story behind Amaluna is a loose take on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, which resurfaces throughout the show, but what I loved even more was each of the individual acts that comprised it — the aerial hoop and uneven bars and teeterboard and even a form of acrobatics called Banquine, a centuries-old Italian tradition that brings ballet and gymnastics together. After so many of the acts, I loved the moment when José and I would look at each other with widened eyes and say, “Seriously — how did they do that?”
I’d thrown my SLR camera in my purse at the last minute before leaving for the show, not sure if I’d use it; as soon as the show began, however, I was grateful to be able to document just a little of the magic. I hadn’t planned on blogging about Amaluna, but the more the acts continued to amaze me, the more compelled I felt to share some of the photos with you all here:
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I was so certain that the inspiration I felt during the show would carry over and be with me on Monday morning — so I was all the more surprised to start the week yesterday feeling a little more off than I expected. At the same time, I’m grateful for the reminder that yesterday gifted me: That there will be mornings when we aren’t always racing to get to our studio or classroom or office and open up our laptop or sketchbook or agenda — wherever and however it is we’ll be doing that day’s work.
And I was reminded, too, of the importance of being patient with ourselves in those moments — to pause; to press reset; and to keep a lookout for fresh inspiration…whether it’s in something as small as noticing a fallen fuchsia-colored flower on the sidewalk, or as grand as reliving a night inside a beautiful blue-and-yellow tent with the Cirque du Soleil. This is a thought that one of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver, expresses so exquisitely in her poem “Messenger,” which I was inspired to re-read yesterday:
My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,
which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.
How interesting is her line, “…standing still and learning to be astonished”? As though astonishment and inspiration aren’t always natural states of being for us, but things we must instead practice and pursue with intention and attention.
Just as Mary Oliver writes, Cirque du Soleil reminded me to keep looking for wonder and whimsy, color and creativity — especially, and perhaps most importantly, on foggy Monday mornings.
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