Thursday, September 18, 2008

Seeing the Light

Even though Fall has always been my favorite season, but it is also been when the most painful things have occurred in my life.

September is a challenging month for me. Sept. 12, 2005, my mother died; Sept. 20, 1980, my father died. Over the years, many of my cats have died in September. Last year, in September, my sweetie sailed away to Mexico, where he still lives on his boat. He has no intention of returning to the States except to renew his visa.

Last week, on my mother's Urs (return to the Beloved), I went to see the Chihuly exhibit at the De Young Museum in San Francisco. My mother used to take me to the De Young when I was a child. In fact, we had my birthday picnic there when I was 9 or 10. In May, San Francisco can be foggy and it definitely was that day. We took lots of pictures which I still have. Me and mom, my aunt Frances, my cousins Frank, George, Kathy, and Charles. The Japanese Tea House, the De Young Museum, the Aquarium. Part of my childhood. Part of my present.

I miss the old museum, but I have gotten used to the new one. Now I am a member, so I get in for 'free' along with a guest. I got the two tickets then found two women, about the same age as me and my mom. I asked to older woman if she was going to buy a ticket. When she said yes, I gave her my 'mom's' ticket, saying "on behalf of my mother, I'd like to offer you this ticket." She was flustered for a moment, not quite getting it, but finally her daughter said thanks.

When I first heard of this exhibit, I was not that interested in seeing it. But I began to hear so many good things about it, I thought I should see it. I decided it was a good place to 'take my mother' for the day. It turned out to be perfect.

As I looked at the magnificent glass sculpture, I remembered that my mother had started collecting glass art in the last 10 years of her life. She had all kinds of glass baubles in her house - vibranty colored and light-filled. She would have loved the exhibit. It was the perfect way to celebrate her. There was one piece about 20 feet high that was a glass version of the vision she gave me when she died. The pieces in the picture above are up to six feet high.

I started thinking about the artist. How does someone manage to maintain a goal like that? Especially when they are just beginning. What sustains them? Did they say at 12 years old - 'I want to be an artist' and the universe supported them until they became famous? I always wonder about this. Most of us have dreams - then 'reality' makes us do boring, soul-deadening work to 'make a living'. It is more like 'making a dying'. We end up middle-aged with all our dreams like dead leaves at our feet and wonder what happened to our life. I guess an artist is sustained by his/her vision despite poverty or solitude.

So, while viewing this exhibit, I started thinking about what I had wanted to be as a child. A writer. I used to read a lot. In fact, I had read everything of value in the children's section of the library by the time I was 10. I knew the librarian. She let me check out books from the adult section. So, by the time I was 12, I had read all of the classics of American and English literature. I had two best friends, Beth and Katie, and we challenged each other to read 'the list'. We discussed the books and wrote poetry and plays using the themes and characters in the books. We didn't cheat and say we had read something if we hadn't. We became the playwrights for our class and often wrote plays that the class or even the school performed.

I was inspired by Little Women, Louisa May Alcott. When I realized this was partly autobiographical, I was fascinated. I read all her books, believing I was following her life. I decided that this was what I wanted to do. But my life was not as interesting as hers, or so I thought. Actually her life was not that unusual. What made it different was that it took place a hundred years ago. Yet it had inspired dreams and fantasies in me. So I learned the value and power of writing and I wanted to do it too.

When I got older and faced my future, I didn't want to marry and have children, because it was so mundane. I wanted a life of adventure. I have had a little of both. I have done things that few of my contemporaries would even contemplate. On the other hand, my choices have made other choices impossible. Now, when my friends are grandparents, I can't really relate. I never had children - by choice.

Now that we are moving into Fall, the light has changed and it has already gotten cold. I am melancholy. I have a daily practice of meditation and self-examination. I have been questioning and evaluating my decisions over the past year. What will I do with the rest of my life? I decided, after the other day at the museum, to pick up the novel I started a few years ago and start working on it again.

1 comment:

seanymph said...

Once again we are going thru some of the same. I'm at the crossroads here, the move particulars are progressing and I'm getting closer to the reality. I keep thinking of the shop I say I want to open but....I still wonder if thats what I'm really supposed to be doing. I still wonder at what I want to be when I grow up :)

If you ever get to Seattle you must go to the Chihuly Glass Museum. Even if you don't go in the museum itself....the walkway there is glorious to see and so are the outdoor exhibits. I would love to own just one piece of his art. I do collect art as it is. Maybe one day.....

In the meantime I just adore his stuff. There was a PBS special on him awhile ago. If you haven't seen it perhaps you could find it. He did some amazing pieces hanging over the canals in Venice.