Week number two of in proximity entrepreneurship dawned sunnier and warmer than week number one. One of Malcolm’s first comments upon arriving in Arizona the week before was that he had not expected to be cold.
Just as this expectation was different than the reality, so too has been our time together. There is certain magic created when we compose and play music together. Of this, I have on doubt. The challenges come in when we begin to share our needs and individuals.
“I know that we should find a studio or office space outside of our homes to work on a regular basis,” read the text I received as Malcolm made his way to my house on Monday.
“I am fine working at our homes, but it may be more a luxury for me than you,” I responded.
Malcolm: I have learned from experience that working at home is incredibly inefficient. There is a reason I discovered why successful people have offices.”
I am left wondering what successful people he is talking about. I can be quite productive at home, and there is the added benefit of being able to work in my pajamas and have access to unlimited amounts of coffee, tea, and cheez-its.
Marieke: I don’t think we need to get an office in the next three months. Plus, we have an espresso machine here. (I attempt to shake some sense into Malcolm through the temptation of paw-print lattés.) Rich says that a penny saved is a penny earned, and not having an office we automatically earn what we would have spent on one.
Malcolm: Roger that. I am thinking, sleepily, that we have an imbalance of commitments. You have multiple commitments that are very important to you: Time with Rich, care of Okami, yoga teacher training, time at home, and STS. I used to have multiple commitments, but since coming out here I only have one: STS. So no wonder there is some tension. I’m sure there are multiple soluations. One is that I create some additional commitments for myself. Then we could pursue STS part-time as we honor other commitments. Maybe, my coming out here is to do something in addition to STS, though I do not know what that would be. Yet.
And so we had a night’s sleep to give our unconscious time to process our differences.
The next morning, we were in better spirits and spoke and wrote about the importance of honoring sustainability as we began to move forward with our business. I expressed my belief that it felt wrong to create beauty and healing in the world through songwriting in a ways that were unsustainable for each of us. We agreed that it would be more powerful to try to create a more sustainable world in a sustainable way.
This tenuous relaxing of tension lasted a few days.
We compromised by working in different spaces—coffee shop, outdoor classroom, and an outdoor yoga circle when the sun was lower in the sky and less likely to do any kind of cancer-inducing damage to the skin.
I agreed to leave home behind in the spirit of compromise, but my non-negotiable was to bring Okami with me. Okami is a canine I rescued just over a month ago from a Husky rescue outside of Phoenix. His spirit came with extreme anxiety from having been abandoned by humans many times in his short life. When left allow, he experiences what I imagine to be panic and anxiety. I have deduced this from the chaos he creates when we are gone from the house—bloodied window curtains with bite marks, couch cushions strewn over the floor, and Okami stretched as close to the door as his leash will allow. When I have left the window open, I have come home to find the screen punched out and lying on the porch and Okami trying to get out of the open window.
Needless to say, the healer in me wishes to nurture trust in my new companion and help him build confidence in a positive way. He is quite easygoing and happy to lie down beside me for hours when I bring him to places where work needs to be accomplished.
Thursday morning was chaotic for me. I woke up to one of the nastier emails I had received from a former renter, who played a victim quite well and demonized me, her former landlord, with even greater skill. It was not the most spirit-lifting way to start the day, but it proved my belief that each day the universe provides me with many opportunities for my soul to practice patience, acceptance, and empathy for other beings. I imagine my former renter must have been deeply wounded in this life or a previous one, and this is the way her soul has chosen to work through it in this life. Why else would someone behave in such an intentionally mean way but in response to fear or pain?
I arrived to the agreed upon place outside the café at Prescott College a bit frazzled but excited to continue the work we had begun the evening before on a song from a story shared with me by a friend I met while teaching in France several years ago. Rich and I have visited with her and her family during the summer of 2012, and she had shared a story and beautiful singthrough with me. I suggested to Malcolm that we work on her song as a way of for me to practice learning notes by pitch and how to compose a song from a story.
The morning was beautiful but breezy. Soon, Malcolm was lyingh on a stonewall to capture some sun to warm his body. Eventually, he stood up and began packing up his belongings. I am too cold, he told me. I need to go inside and warm up. So he headed into the library, and I remained outside working with Okami at my feet.
We worked on my friend’s song via Google docs and chat until Malcolm alluded to the ridiculousness of the way we were working.
It was a bit silly, thinking about it in hindsight, but I was fine rolling with it.
“It seems clear that your first priority is running an animal rescue,” Malcolm told me over google chat. “This is fine, but it means that songwriting does not come first. How can we travel around the world performing with Okami?”
I responded that I thought it was fine to be a healer and also a songwriter and that I did not think we needed to worry about something in the future that may or may not happen. I have found that when the future happens, all of the steps and practice I have had leading up to that point bring clarity and preparedness.
“It is true that Okami needs love,” Malcolm continued, “but there are many people and homes where he can be given this love.”
Does he want me to find a new home for my dog? I wondered.
My response: “Says the person who does not love animals the way that I do.”
It was becoming clear to me that we were each coming from very different ways of being and working in the world. I enjoy being surrounded by creatures that fill my heart and soul. I enjoy feeling needed and having creatures to nurture. I think this kind of empathy helps me to be a better songwriter and guide when I work with people who are vulnerable and raw.
Malcolm’s next message determined the time that has passed since.
“Let me know when you are prepared to give me three uninterrupted hours of work time, and we can continue working together then.”
I read this kind of black and white ultimatum as rather unyielding. I have found that I am not a black and white person. The context and reality of life and work are always shifting and dynamic. It is my practice to learn to be flexible and allow my expectations to evolve as new information comes to light.
So, I spoke with my partner about it.
“Perhaps, you should both make up a list of Your abilities and duties…what can you do separate, what can you do together…separating out some of the things you do for STS…instead of thinking y’all have to do everything together, maybe there is a more flexible model. Also, do you each need to do all the roles that are needing to be done for the business?”
He continued, “Then, you can see where they are separate and where they overlap, and you can create a Venn Diagram. I bet Malcolm will like creating a Venn Diagram.”
I suggested this option to Malcolm, and he responded positively. We each set to work.
I returned home, and Malcolm continued working in the warmth of the Prescott College Library.
And that is where we are in our work together. Soul-stretching.
Perhaps, this time was meant to give us each a jumpstart into figuring out what each of our souls wants and needs with regard to life and songwriting.
Stay tuned for more!