On the Lull Between Storms

Sitting here waiting in New Orleans between the weather induced by tropical storm Isidore and hurricane Lili, I am thinking about the negative space, the shadow between events, the silence between the notes that makes a succession of events a melody, the patterns of rise and fall that make a life. The lull between storms. I understand that place very well. It seems as if all my life that has been a place where I can be found. When I was growing up, my existence was defined as those periods between things – whether they were my father’s explosive interactions with me, experiences of popularity split by long stretches of isolation, wild creative bursts of inspiration separated by deep, dark nothing depressions, times when poems and songs and stories and words just flowed endlessly from me, overflowing the levees and seeping into all parts of my world that too often passed and left me standing in stagnant, brooding water.

Every artistic or creative person at some time, in some fashion, embraces this manic-depressive cycle, anticipates it, longs for it. It is, after all, the interaction with the muses that sparks the electricity, jerks us out of the mundane and into the magickal, pulls us from the ordinary and sometimes quite painfully drags us into proximity to the extraordinary. A coastline between hurricanes is like an artist who has worked in oils and after a period of inactivity begins to work in clay – an artist between mediums is a very unpredictable force. To me, this is a natural state. I know that this void will soon be filled with lightning, storms, torrential rains, buffeting winds and rising tides. I can feel the undertow growing even now, a sense in the pit of my stomach that tells me that once again, I have failed to rest well in preparation for the upcoming time of trial. For it is a trial, getting through the mania in one piece, finding enough focus to get it all down in a manner that expresses it adequately, seeking the calm center of the eye so that the squalls of the eye wall don’t drag me too far off course, destroying the civilized place where I hunker down, waiting and watching the sky for signs of significance. As Annie Lennox once sang, “here comes the rain again.” As Robert Zimmerman put it, “a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.”

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