Revising from the Inside Out

Life corrections begin with edits, then revisions, and then you have a new story.

by Luellen Smiley • More.com Member { View Profile }

 

I’m sitting outside in a flowerless garden because no matter how many flowers I plant, they only last one season, if that long. The garden is erupting out of its winter coat, and lime green leaves, plants, and stalks will have to do for now. The sky that seals me in is licked with revisionary hope — the kind that comes back laundered and fresh after a chosen recess from believing in the possibility of a preferred life correction.

Behind the garden, a neighbor is drumming a soft tribal beat, and on Palace Avenue, the choir is singing inside the Episcopal Church. Between these distinctive tastes, there are sparrows fluttering from fan to nest to fountain. The chattering sounds like, “here she comes, don’t come over here, get out of my nest, watch out for that fat crow.”

It’s a mind drift, to be caught in such unstructured beauty, away from the manuscripts, remotes, doors, and phones. It’s like being on an island out here. Everything we bring into our experience can be revised; a work of art, a way of speaking, thinking, portraying yourself, your way of loving, or lusting, and we all know about appearance, because our society shoves it down our throat.  

Look at the possibilities in revising our patterns of behavior. What we accepted 20 years ago doesn’t mean it’s carved in our organs. We can transmute. The interior life needs lifting and tightening, just as our mind and muscles do. You won’t find any immediate remedy, or advertisements, or books on the subject because we’re consumers of products that change and revise only the visible tangibles. I wonder if I traded in my 11-year-old Land Rover for a new one if I’d be really happy, and for how long? Or if I flew to Los Angeles and bought cartons of antiques, hats, and perfume if I would be grinning from ear to ear.

I begin with revising the way I experience Santa Fe. I’ve lived on the outskirts, like a storm that blew in and is waiting to blow out. It seems my storm is here for now, and so I let go of the criticism and intolerances. Beginning with my favorite activity, dancing, I returned to El Farol, my chosen dance hall Hullabaloo, then to La Posada across the street and mingled with an assorted group of locals, guests, and actors, (who were real as pippin apples) spent a day cruising the ghostly town of Madrid to experience the cinematic sparseness, and walked up and down Canyon Road one morning before the shops opened, and was greeted half a dozen times by strangers out walking, uniquely different in attire, disposition and stride. I love that about Santa Fe. You don’t conform; it’s a religion here!

My homework for the next few weeks is revising the interior doors of emotion, and the exterior doors of expression. I’ve set aside the memoir, (did I mention I started that again) after a publisher suggested major rewrites and editing. I mean you have to know when to give up because you’re not going to make the team. I’m a six-page essayist. If you get me into 150 pages, I march all over the globe and lose the reader.

You guys are smart. You know all of this; I’m just learning. I am a case of insufferable arrested development. If I felt my age, which most of you know, I’d be looking at retirement brochures. Instead I’m planning on breaking into Hollywood with my script. That’s actually a joke between my dreamer self and my inner critic, but I’m not listening to the critic.

Today I swiveled in my desk chair trying to write the column I thought I was going to write. In between gazing out the window at sky scenery, I made oatmeal cookies, watched the birds, took care of business, had a haircut, plucked at paragraphs from Anais Nin, and danced on the treadmill. The column didn’t come out of a conscious thought wave; it just rose up, after I typed the words, the throw of the dice. The odds were I’d find my way from there.

My dad the gambler, who laid a bet on everything from sports, horses, gaming, to the Academy Awards and elections, taught me many valuable lessons. He actually told me once, “Take a chance for heavens sake! Go out and get arrested.” He knew the odds of that, which is why he dared me. Life corrections begin with edits, then revisions, and then you have a new story!

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