The recent transition to Improvised Life’s new architecture continues. It echoes a bigger sea change in my own personal life:

How to balance my need for more time and spaciousness with the endless demands of a 10-year-old active website rooted in an increasingly competitive and numbing internet? 

…and more specifically,

What do I need to let go of to get back to balance and creativity?

In posts and emails, I shared these questions. Among the many deeply affirming messages I received from readers —”We’re with you…with whatever you want or need to do.”— the most interesting was from long-time contributor Susan Dworski

She wrote to say that reading about Improvised Life’s Sea Change had catalyzed her own:

Your post sparked a wonderful dream last night in which I was at a fancy dinner party with movers and shakers. Someone mentioned that for a writer or artist to be taken seriously these days they had to explore dystopia.

I suddenly stood up and said loudly, “Well, that’s not my mission this time around.”

All faces turned, aghast.

“My mission is to seek beauty, find humor, and bring joy.”

As I spoke that aloud, I woke up.

It was as if a huge stone had rolled off my chest.

I had a mission statement!

Who knew, now that my hair’s turned white,  to finally have a mission statement?  Let alone such a mission!

So simple, so delightful to fulfill. One that is not transactional; that does not include commodification. 

Your sea change has stimulated a sea change in me.

“Whither leads the voyage?

  xoxoxo Susan

Sea change: a good virus; benign contagion.

That got me thinking that Improvised Life’s mission has always somehow been to catalyze sea change on a daily, often atomic, level: to create shifts in how we see and think about what’s around us, and the choices we can then make.  THAT is the virus I want Improvised Life to spread: to infect readers with a sense of possibility, and a bit of courage to explore new territory.  THAT’s my mission statement.

I opened my slim copy of The Moon Before Morning by W.S. Merwin to a perfect poem, Turning. With the synchronicity  I’ve come to expect from writing Improvised Life for so many years, came W.S. Merwin’s words for the very heart of  my sea change:

Going too fast for myself I missed
more than I think I can remember

almost everything it seems sometimes
and yet there are chances that come back

that I did not notice when they stood
where I could have reached out and touched them

this morning the black Belgian shepherd dog
still young looking up and saying

Are you ready this time


Thanks Susan!


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4 replies on “Sea Change Can Be Contagious (Susan Dworski, W.S. Merwin)

  1. This is a wonderful post, on a subject that has been much on mind. I am particularly glad that you included the Merwin poem re “chances that come back.” Exactly. The sea change on my mind and heart now is actually a return to the past, to something at my very core that I let slip away, and that I am striving to recapture in the present. It was then. It is now. And will, I hope, also be the future.

  2. Cara, thank you for the wonderful description of your sea change: “The sea change on my mind and heart now is actually a return to the past, to something at my very core that I let slip away, and that I am striving to recapture in the present. It was then. It is now. And will, I hope, also be the future.”

  3. Dear Susan, I appreciated your words in the “Improvised Life” today.

    I have had no dreams, or visions, or sudden glimpses of inspiration. However, it brought back to the surface of my consciousness that I had lost my way and was standing in a dark room, tired of moving forward, only to bump into a wall, turn and try again. I am standing because I am tired of running my toes, or nose, into a wall because my eyes (all three of them) have slowly closed without my being aware that darkness had replaced vision. I was seeing, in my mind’s eye the END, a dystopia of internet demons and the mayhem that they bring. I had replaced views of the plains, blue skies, life as it really flows, and most importantly the way forward, with a 360 degree billboard of failure.

    I read a story about a young family that was washed out to sea on the Oregon coast recently, the mother’s desperate cries at a local house screaming for help as she watched her husband, a seven year old daughter, and a four year old son, get sucked out to sea by a rogue wave. The children died. I imagined myself, after reading about your dream, as the people washed out to sea, the rogue wave being the social darkness that is pervading our society these days. However, the ocean itself, was still just the ocean, and once the turbulence of the tumbling wave had done its work, that part of me that was afraid was cleaned as only the ocean can clean something. The part of me that knows my path had come to light again. The salt water and the sand had abraded and cleansed the tarnish that had set in.

    l have been carrying and practicing my vision all this time. Only, my sight had been clouded, and subsequently my feet had stopped moving. My life’s vision is to create beauty around me, to enhance people’s lives, with love. I have never been that good at the business end of carpentry, partly because I can tell you what I will do to your house, barn, etc, but my hands, working with my heart, are the real perpetrators of the act of instilling love into something solid. Trying to figure out the money end of it is like trying to deal with emotional problems by working through them intellectually. Doesn’t work. I cannot tell you how I will work my way through something emotionally, emoting is a temporal and ephemeral item.

    So “Thanks”, once again. Your flipping the switch to reenlighten a path allows me to move forward. Your timing most apropos. May your fingers dance to your most beautiful tune. And may your art bring light and love into someone’s life who most fervently needs that input.

  4. Thank you for sharing your mission statement and Susan’s on this new and wonderful Improvised Life. I am so grateful for you and other thoughtful, courageous people who continue to provide creative inspiration.

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