Thursday, January 31, 2008

Speaking of Jacksons...

So my nephew Chase needed help with his Calc homework the other night. Which meant I had to reteach myself. While it's kind of a Captain Obvious statement, unless you are like a scientist-y kind of person, you really aren't going to be using advanced math that much. I told this to Chase. He was relieved.

But sometimes we do learn things we'll use. Sometimes, we do have moments, lessons, that end up defining us. They just aren't mathematical. Well, not for me. :) For me they are "shifts" where my world perception changed. Where yellow became sunburst and red became crimson. We all start out with the same 8 crayons. Me? I keep wanting to upgrade. Get more colors. Get a bigger box.

In 1st grade I was given permission to go to the "other side" of the library. Beyond the Berenstain Bears and into the Dewey Decimal realm. I was allowed to use the Encyclopedias. The Reference Room. I was reading before kindergarten so they thought I needed more of a challenge. The first thing I did was look up 'stars'. I wanted to read about celebrities. I ended up starting a love-affair with astronomy, constellations, and, from there, Greek mythology. My life changed. Within a year I was obsessed with Alexander the Great and thought up my own stories.

In 4th grade I was assigned to read "A Wrinkle in Time" for my book report. Good Lord, it was if I had never really existed. Following the mad-crave that Madeleine L'Engle unleashed, I started writing. Putting carbon to paper, childish smudges where chubby-hand and pencil blended. Two years later my 6th grade teacher asked me for stories to take to her Master's class. I had an audience, attention, and stroking. I was hooked.

The next moment took a bit longer. It took some crawling out of my small town, some binge-drinking, and, sadly, some really really bad poetry written backwards, with dry-erase markers, on my suite windows to get me there.

I was 22 when I first went to Manhattan and went to the Met. I went up some stairs in the modern art section I took a right and there was "Autumn Rythm (Number 30)", Jackson Pollack's 8ft high, 17ft long, drip masterpiece. No fake-drama. I started crying. Thankfully there was a padded-seat to lessen the public display. Suddenly things made sense. This 50yo painting did something nothing else in my life had ever done. It put a peace in me. Controlled chaos. It explained so much. Chopin. Dostoevsky. Pollack. Humanity was, again, for me only maybe, controlled chaos.

If you've never been moved by music (and if you've read any of my blogs recently you know I'm not a music elitist in any sense), literature, art or philosophy or any of the other beautiful outlets we are gifted with, then I'm sorry. I can't fathom an existence without such passion. Without such reaction.

I think that is part of what Koka calls my "wanderlust". The drive that keeps me unsatisfied. The push to get a bigger, brighter Crayola box, sharpener in the back. Sometimes I do wish I didn't have it. Sometimes I think it would be simpler, easier, if I could just be happy with a comfy job and seek out the house and kids. But those are just moment of weakness. I can't imagine not crying before a painting. I can't imagine not wanting more and believing it is still possible. Suppose I just can't imagine not being me.

Normies and bunnies. *pfft* You ain't got nothing on me. :)


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