manifesto monday: fire


trees by the river, originally uploaded by Ann Marie Whittaker.

i've been wondering when i will finally get mad. i want to know how a person says "forget everything that's ever happened, or hasn't happened for that matter...i'm going to do whatever i want to no matter how poor i am, no matter what other people say." where does that fire come from? when will i get so angry at this world that tells me i have to score certain points, know certain facts, or find a nice clean-cut label for myself? i think i'm getting close to something on the brink of anger. but i need something more than a chip on my shoulder. i need that fire that is seen deep inside the eyes, and felt with every breath. i need to throw away books that tell me what and how to write to get published here or there. i need to get rid of my attitude that people only want what so-and-so does. i think i'm getting quite tired indeed of worrying about being labeled "emotional" or "too nice"--plus, there's actually quite a dark and mysterious side to me that i don't think i've even allowed to come out because i've been too worried about the oh so typical responses i have assumed will come my way. and maybe they will. who cares? i'm beginning not to care.

i am feeling that i am getting tired of coming up with "plan b's" and following them rather than pursuing "plan a" which is what i want to do in the first place. if i puruse plan b of course that's where i'll end up rather than doing what i always wanted to do. so here's the hard part: what is it exactly that i want to do?

write. write what? short stories. children's books. poems. essays about life, about politics, about what i think about the world and its beauties and ugliness.

i want to take pictures. i want to create images that are both beautiful and terrible at once. i want to tell stories of people and the earth. i want people to see what is so beautiful and to see the beauty in something that is frightening.

i want to sing songs. songs that have that fire in them. a fire that makes you want to hit the "repeat" button over and over again. songs that are that wonderful balance of simple but grand.

i want to travel and meet people. meeting people. that's a hard one. i'm quite awkward and prefer to watch and listen. i wouldn't ever be good at that interviewing thing. i'd call you up and say "may i please come stay with you for a week and just sit by you and watch what details make up your beautiful, yet simple life?" "may i listen to the conversations you have with your neighbors, with your sister on the phone, or those conversations you have with your heart?" i don't want to ask one question. i just want to write it all down and take lots and lots of photos. because i think you're a fascinating person for one reason: you do what you love even on the days that you hate it, and wish you would have done something else until you have that moment again where you realize how lucky you are to do what you love.

so how do i do it? how do i throw myself into the fire? let go. let go. let go and fly into the failure and the success full speed ahead with eyes that show a heart and see it all. i can't get this well-known quote out of my head:

"i set myself on fire and people come to watch me burn" -john wesley

so here i set myself on fire--which can be a painful thing that people call you crazy for doing, but they watch you anyway in awe. i've been watching all of you do what you love--watching your fire and i'm going to do that for myself--even though i'm sure to cry, yell, sulk, doubt along the way. here's to setting myself on fire. here's to doing it all: writing, photography, song writing and performing (did i say that out loud?! yes i want to perform for small little groups now and then). i set myself on fire, and i'm going to run in the direction of my dreams rather than away from them.

{please remind me of this post when i begin to sulk and pout. please.}

{and, happy winter solstice!}


Lainey said...

There is this line from the band Stars that says "When there is nothing left to burn, you have to set yourself on fire." It's a lot like your quote.

Light that fire, take that leap. It will all snow ball from there. I can attest, as someone who recently did some fire-starting, that there is nothing as uplifting, scary, outright freeing as going after anything and everything you want.

Caroline said...

What an absolutely gorgeous blog!!!! I am so happy I stumbled upon your blog. These photos are dreamy, captivating and lively!! xo

Courtney said...

It seems to me ann that you're doing all the things you mention here--and very beautifully.

mia said...

Dear Ann

You already are doing everything you want to do, and you do it spectacularly. I have read so many blogs and yours is really the one i come back to most days for insipiration and hope...

Netti said...

I love this. I love that quote. Oh and ironically enough, we have the same dreams. Writing, photography, song writing, performing. Yes indeed. Those are mine as well. With performing being the scariest and most far fetched of all of mine. You are much further along than I am however, so I applaud you and your skills. You have SO much talent oozing out of you. Hence why I come to your blog for a good dose of inspiration daily.

Kate said...

I've only heard your voice a few times, but it sticks out to me as so so beautiful. Like a fairy.

Please do sing!!!!!

Hannah Joy said...

I know the feeling. And I love hearing everything you have to say, so please, keep on setting yourself and the rest of us on fire! Happy Christmas, Solstice, and New Year!!