ripe. juicy. whole. round. exuberant. wild. rich. wide. deep. firm. rare. female.
Succulent Wild Woman looked to me at first like a book for children with its hand painted figures and bright colours. So what was it doing in the Women’s section of the metaphysical book store? Of course, the title was intriguing, and suggested something different all together.
I reached for it, flipped through and found this familiar tidbit, which I thought I remembered seeing as a poster somewhere, entitled How to Paint
Go on an art store adventure.
Buy smooth or nubbly paper — whatever sings to your fingers. Tear it into odd-sized pieces.
Buy one brush.
Choose colours that you love in ink, watercolour, acrylic, oil, or fingerpaints.
Mix colours randomly or put directly onto paper.
Experiment. Keep going. Make more mistakes.
Laugh at what develops.
Put layers of colour on top of each other.
Tear the paper up if you don’t like it.
Glue the pieces into the centre of the next picture.
See if it develops into anything.
Spill paint onto the paper.
Watch what forms next.
This is a painting.
You are a painter.
I wondered, Is it self-help or is it poetry? Either way, I loved it immediately because it’s self-indulgent and that’s a philosophy I try to live by. It’s my aim to cover every possible indulgence in life, as often as still feels healthy, even if it has to be vicariously. SARK urges us to look for more places we can find or create more pleasure. My kinda woman!
So I bought the book, and I read it on the bus where I consistently had to suppress my urges to jump up and share snippets of rainbow-coloured brilliance with other commuters.
Practice extravagant lounging.
Investigate your dark places with a flashlight.
Invent your life over if it doesn’t feel juicy.
Cradle your wounded places like precious babies.
Eat mangoes naked.
Lick the juice off your arms.
A SARK book is a journal. It’s like reading someone’s diary, with permission. They’re filled with her splendidly imperfect doodles and watercoloured illustrations in eye-popping colours. She writes about holistic therapies, religions and alternative routes toward spirituality, relationships, sexuality, creative expression, fat, self-forgiveness, building better communities, and her numerous visits to magical healing places like Esalen in Big Sur, and Tassajara, a Zen Mountain Centre in San Francisco, and even Holly Hock in British Columbia.
She explores. Encourages us to explore. Try new things. See what we like. See what we’re like.
At the end of each chapter, she makes suggestions for related readings and other resources like music or websites. I love and admire how she promotes other artists of every genre, or just everyday people she finds inspiring and writes little devotionals to them, like this one
She offers us scenarios by which to best enjoy her books:
In a shaft of sunlight, beside a bowl of oranges, barefoot.
In the bathtub with many candles and slices of mango.
In white cotton pyjamas, under a comforter with a cat sleeping in a circle.
Her books are handwritten, cover to cover. The only computer font or typesetting I could find was the ISBN number on the back. Each one feels like a gift directly from her to you, the reader.
The colours she uses to write in are very important also, and I find they can make it easier to get thru the rough and stormy spots, like when she’s talking about having been a victim of incest, or about embarrassing stumblings toward self-acceptance.
SARK is a poet of sorts, but first of all she is human, a woman, and encourages us to “Make more mistakes.” It’s poetry to live by.
Other books by SARK that I own: Transformation Soup, and Eat Mangoes Naked.
Other books by SARK that I’m curious to try: Inspiration Sandwich, The Bodacious Book of Succulence, and Change Your Life Without Getting Out Of Bed.
Visit her on the world wide web at www.campsark.com or you can call her Inspiration Hot Line, 24 hours a day, at 415-546-3742. I’ve never called. But I might.