Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I can start where?

Jules Feiffer  1973

I first saw this cartoon in 1973, and saved it.   I was then  on my way into my big bright future, scared and hopeful.  One thing I liked about this cartoon is its emphasis on facing fear and confusion with determination and humility.  There's always going to be a door behind us and one in front of us.  Challenge, or opportunity?  That cheery platitude of  "When one door closes, a window opens" hasn't been my experience.  For me, when one door closes the room is pitch black  - Jules Feiffer didn't draw that - and full of stuff.  Scary stuff, mean stuff, intriguing stuff, urgent stuff, nostalgic stuff.  It's all there for me to trip over, in its messy, imprecise self-involved way.   Ever since that husband of mine died, I've been groping my way to one door knob after another.  In each room I enter I smell fresher and fresher air.

Finally, my grief has cleared and I'm midwifing my new life.  I've had a busy month.  Major renewal, and minor upheaval.  My goal has been to get my art studio up and running by my sixth decade, which starts next week.  That studio has been the catch all for 'everything I didn't want to review - not now' for nearly two decades.  Photographs, letters, workshop materials, personal journals, posters, clippings,  books, artwork from my professional career, and artwork I created after that.  I felt lost after I retired, but eventually I stopped missing the career's ego gratification.  I loved my retired life more than working.  Then came the long period of my husband's dying, a time for action, not reflection.  I've no regrets for pushing art aside for that purpose.   Here's what I learned from that.

 "One sees clearly only with the heart.  Anything essential is invisible to the eyes."
The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

Of course, the door of the room he and I shared slammed shut behind me, and the room I then found myself in, the 'grief' room, taught me how important it is to continue seeing with the heart.  That wasn't a room I wanted to stay stuck in, though.  I turned the knob, and surprise of surprises, entered the room my boyfriend is in.  Now together in pitch darkness, he's helped me find the knob for yet another room.

I'm turning the door knob.  New life.  Cleaning out my art studio is my way of walking through that door.  Everything is out of there except for my favorite books and clippings.  It's a clean slate.  It has a new linoleum floor and new 5' x 5' table.  Soon it will have a new display area.  The guest room has been converted into my art material storage room. Somehow, I managed to squeeze a bed back in there. 

Might I have something in me that needs visual language to express?  I don't know. Why does it feel like this next 'room' will teach me to live with no self-importance, with only my heart?   I'd be one lucky person, wouldn't I?