“Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Only press on: no feeling is final.”
-Rainer Maria Rilke, from The Book of Hours
At the beginning of every year, I like to take a look backward at the previous year before looking forward. Last year, I said that 2013 was weird. 2014 kicked my ass. Things, as they say, got real. Winter is always a time of introspection and generation for me, and it’s in this spirit that I offer this look back:
- We kicked off the new year with excitement about my father’s heart transplant. It was successful, and his recovery was strong. My parents lived with us during his early recovery, and I was able to have lots of quality time with both my mom and my dad. What a gift.
- I continued to teach, and I even took a class myself, with Laura Moriarty. It was such a treat to be a student again, and to use wax in ways so different from my own. I’ll be learning more from others in 2015.
- My son and I visited schools in Southern California. I can hardly believe he’ll be going to college in the fall.
- I took a wonderful trip to New York in July with my husband James, and some really fun friends. Walked the high line. Checked out the gallery scene in the lower east side. Walked the Brooklyn Bridge, drank too much coffee, and generally had a fantastic time.
- I started drawing again. I drew and painted a series of 50 tiny images in 50 days.
- Started running again, after a break of many years. I had forgotten how much I love it.
- In August, a sad thing: my dad died suddenly and unexpectedly from an embolism.
Okay, I just sat here for half an hour lost in thought while the cursor blinked on the screen. What can I say? Most people I know have lost someone close to them, and a lot of my friends have lost parents, so I don’t feel alone in this experience at all. For me, it felt as though I’d tripped and fallen into a very deep dark hole for several weeks. Reality felt a little slick, and time seemed to slow down for a few months. There was a lot of business to attend to, and family to check in with, and my mom to worry about.
And then, slowly, things returned to sorta-normal.
But they haven’t, not really. And that’s where the lines from the poem above come in. My main message to myself throughout this ordeal was the same one I try to hold with making art: Stay with yourself. Stay with the moment. Pay attention. It’s all okay. It all passes by, and we come out the other end. We are rarely the same person, though, if we are really paying attention. I see that as a good thing. I’m still sad sometimes, and I miss my dad, but I feel more settled in myself as well- more present in my mind, more attached to my bones, with more gravity in my heart.
Life (and art) changes us, if we let it.