I wrote a post about this novel idea some time back. I was beginning to realize that my life wasn't orderly in the way I wanted it to be. That it was out of control in a certain kind of way - I'm not a neat freak nut or similar type; I detest Having Rules for the sake of Rules; but with a due nod to the fates, our lives should be in our own control if we are free people, and mine was not.
Some of this goes way back, back to early experiences that were absolutely crushing, the sorts of things that people sometimes cannot survive, those nightmare memories. Some was due to the emotional fallout of losing our shipping business. Some was due to the simple fact of disability. See, being disabled doesn't just mean you can't work. It also means you can't take care of your life so very well. Not because you don't know how, or you're lazy or don't want to; it's because you're Not Able.
But it really hit home with the events of last summer. Ah, that summer odyssey. I had a wonderful time, just amazing. Saw my nephew graduate from college with a magna cum laude double-major. Visited the old homestead for the first time in 16 years. Saw the UP of the UP of Michigan and fell in love with it. And I had a summer that was more allergy-free than I'd experienced in the same 16 years or so. It gave my overall health an incredible boost, and kept me out of the hospital, where we'd been contemplating dumping me for a 2-month stay to knock out this persistent infection crippling my right arm. But lo and behold, with more oral antibiotics and the overall boost to my health, it's been healing on its own. I dodged a bullet there.
I also almost lost my house to foreclosure. Why? Because I didn't get my mail forwarded to me while I was gone.
Hmmm. I want to say, --now THAT's dumb. But I don't like people cutting themselves or each other down. Besides, it wasn't dumbness at work, there. It was clearly something else.
I came home and realized more was going on than that. For long-ago reasons, I'd abandoned my inborn natural drive to surround myself with beauty. I felt free to do so with plants and flowers, yes. But I also love paintings and fine furniture and other such objects of art. Jewels. Not because I want to *show off,* or *think I'm better than everyone else,* or because of a *selfish upper-middle class background.*
It took a long time for me to realize those old accusations don't apply to me, and never did. I see beauty in so much that is totally free, and not considered any kind of status symbol. It's part of why I collect fossils and shark's teeth and rocks. They aren't diamonds. They are pieces of beauty that many people, including lots of folks sporting Rolexes, walk right past without a glance.
I love quality in all things, whether it's work or food or art. Yet it's been drummed into me for a very long time that I didn't deserve these things; that they were a waste; that only stuck-up people indulged in them...
And it's bullshit, people. Really and truly. Not just for me. For EVERYONE. That force who created us created beauty as well, and did not intend for us to live without it. Real art encompasses human growth and understanding, communication, love. To scorn art is a type of sacrilege.
When I came home last fall, I walked into this place with new eyes. I wasn't happy with my house, inside or out. Excuse me: with my home. Home, in every sense of the word. This is my one true home of my entire life, here, and it wasn't reflecting the happy and peaceful state I've finally being enjoying.
So I got cracking on things.
I've been in a sort of self-imposed semi-exile ever since. Not completely; I'm not bent on hurting or punishing myself. But blogging less, emailing less, reading others' blogs less than I used to, because I sleep and get sick and simply don't have enough time to go around the way I want. A couple of bloggers I would have loved to know passed away without me ever visiting one time, and that hurt in ways I hadn't anticipated. Startled me. I never knew them or their blogs; how could I feel any difference once they were gone? They hit me as losses I'd never seen coming. The loss of possibility.
I want my life straightened out so I can be free to roam that way again.
I've made a lot of progress. Filed five years' worth of paperwork. Filed Walter's outstanding income tax returns. Filed the *supplemental* hurricane insurance claim. Tidied up a lot.
And I've started to explore, just a bit, Art again.
I love Pretty Lady's blog. I love her, as a human IRL. This is one extraordinary person. A healer, a thinker, a writer, of uncommon excellence. Of true quality.
And an artist of superb talent and skill.
I love her work. I just finished reading the entire archives of her art blog, Brooklyn Days. It was unbelievably satisfying. A hole in my soul was finally being fed again.
She has a boutique too, of Wearable Art. This is an incredibly wonderful idea. I now have a Pretty Lady cup of my own, courtesy of Nancy, and it's become my regular espresso cup. And I want a t-shirt! Oh yes.
But...I also want more.
I've started checking out some of the links she has to other artists. Exploring. I want to buy some art to put in my home.
Yes. Real art. Not just prints. The kind of paintings that have brushstrokes in them. That the artist touched, stretched its canvas, fretted over and zoned out over, working, painting through the days and nights...
My art education is lacking. Yet I come from a long line of artists, myself. Some were quite good. Not even approaching Pretty Lady's level, but then, I have a sneaking suspicion that very few are. When I look at her artwork I have a powerful sense that I'm seeing paintings that the art world is overlooking, and should not be.
These are works of far greater merit, I believe, than she's getting credit for. They move people. It's not just me; I read some fascinating comments about this on her blog. You look at her paintings and things can happen to you, deep down inside of you. I've only felt that before in museums. World-class museums like the Art Institute of Chicago, wondrous place of early art memories for me.
So I want one. There are paintings on her blog that I return to, over and over, falling into them, and I want one.
I doubt I can afford one. Maybe later. Maybe, if I keep on taking care of business here, straightening things out, paying off those old business debts till there's nothing left and we can finally use our bits of money to enjoy ourselves. Walter is all for it; his European love of culture shines happily upon my plans.
Meanwhile, I don't want to be Without any more. Artists often have smaller works for sale too, or sketches. Pieces that cost less. I've been waiting on a few more things to settle down, planning then on asking Pretty Lady - as herself the artist, Stephanie Lee Jackson - for some prices.
She does these mandalas, intriguing drawings with a very long history in art. I really love them, and I was hoping she might be willing to part with one, at a price I can afford.
I've been sleeping off a big bout of important yardwork accomplished Sunday. I woke up again not long ago and got the mail. In the mail was an envelope. A padded one, largish. Perhaps a nice big pic of the great-nephew?
I turned it over and saw who it was from. My hands started shaking. I went inside and put it down and carefully opened the other mail, bills, first. Then I washed my hands.
Then I opened the big envelope.
It was a mandala. One that resonated especially with me. Very much.
A birthday present.
It's incredibly beautiful. It took my breath away.
I just looked at it again. It did it again.
I was going to tell you my camera is broken, and I can't show it to you until the new camera arrives a few days from now. But in finding the links to put in this post, I saw Stephanie had a new entry in her Brooklyn Days blog. The post shows some of her gorgeous mandalas.
And the very first one is the mandala that sits in front of me today. So if you want to see it, just go click, and there it is.
So. This precious piece of real art will find a home on a wall in my happy room, my home office, close to me. For now I'll just sit here looking at it in front of me, falling into it. Touching it in its protective sleeve. Happily thinking up frames, and where to put it.
Thank you, Stephanie. This ranks up among the best birthday presents of my entire life.