Go Big or Go Bust: Day 197 (Lesson from the garden - self-confidence from potatoes and courage from a dream)

A number of weeks ago, I mentioned that I'd been down in the basement and the poor potatoes looked like Rapunzel without the benefits of gravity.  My gardening filmmaker friend Marian Evans (of Wellington, New Zealand) advised me to "Stick those spuds in the ground!" (something like that).  And so I did,  I went and dug six inch holes and stuck them in the ground with their 'eye stalks' pointing toward the sky.  These poor potatoes are left over from our crop last Fall and, try as we might, we hadn't gotten around to eating them.  By the summer, they were a little squishy and, as you can see, actively taking matters into their own hands.

early Summer

early Summer

I finally got around to planting them in early July and a week or so later, was thrilled to see what Marian must have know would happen.  The little stalks had turned green and were even sprouting tiny leaves.

July 11

July 11

Look at what's happened in the past three weeks.  One potato produces a whole bush.

Today, August 4

Today, August 4

Which brings me to the lesson I got from these potatoes: each one of us, potatoes included, has a yearning to do what we were brought to Earth to do.  And I'm moved by the faith of those potatoes in the basement.  They weren't getting what they needed even though they were giving all the signals that they were ready to get planted ... and still they kept on trying, growing, using up the energy of their potato selves to get to some sunlight.  (There are two very small windows in our basement, just enough to give you hope.) 

It reminds me of a night back in 1985 or 1986 when I sobbed myself to sleep after wailing to Mr. Green that I didn't know what to do anymore, if I was supposed to make a feature film, then okay!  I'll make it but I need money from somewhere.  (I'd been applying for and not-getting a lot of grants.)  Or should I give up on this artist/filmmaker idea and try to get a job in advertising or something?  Or should I devote myself to being a mother and have a whole bunch of kids?  I felt willing, I felt open and I felt desperate to know what I was supposed to do.. 

That night, I had a dream.  It was one  of those dreams which feels important, like a message.  I was in a 1950's type kitchen with a witch.   She wasn't good or bad, but she was powerful and forceful.  She commanded me to make the feature:  "Don't stop now!  You're almost there!

That dream gave me a powerful confidence to keep on going.  It wasn't easy and it wasn't finished til the Fall of 1989 but then the film, a feature starring Lea Floden as Louise, got into the Dramatic Competition at the Sundance Festival and the Panorama of the Berlin Festival and forever changed my life.

I'd love to have that kind of dream again.  The difficulty of this job of getting The Louise Log out to a larger audience has me doubting if I should be devoting any more time to it.  On the other hand,  it feels like that's what I'm supposed to be doing.  And then I think of what those potatoes had been going through from January to June.  I bet they had their doubts. 

Go Big or Go Bust: Day 152 (on persistence ... like the potatoes)

One of our grown kids recently tried to save me from embarrassing myself: 

HIM   "Mom.  The whole 'go big or go home' idea--" 

I jumped in.

ME   "Go big or go bust." 

He nodded, acknowledging the irrelevant fine point. 

HIM   "Whatever.  The 'go big' thing has a certain urgency to it.  There's a finite kind of excitement implicit in it.  What day are you up to, eighty or something?" 

ME   "We're way over a hundred." 

He shook his head, wincing with pity. 

HIM   "No.  Stop it.  It's WRONG.  Just STOP."

Thinking back on the conversation, I don't think I even tried to explain myself or to argue with him.  I've been completely committed to this daily journal/blog and had never imagined an urgency issue.  I let his point of view sink in a little to see if I agreed with it at all.  That's how I generally function - pure gut instinct, which told me:

GUT INSTINCT   "Are you crazy?  Give up?  You've hardly begun."

So it was nice to go down to the basement to look for something else and notice last Fall's potatoes on the bench.  Their life force,  their faith that they're using their finite energy doing what they obviously feel they're supposed to do.   And this reminds me of a quote from Piet Mondrian:  "The position of the artist is humble. He is essentially a channel."