Thursday, September 28, 2017

Order



I'm writing this in a coffee shop nearby school. Folksy music is blending with the murmur of voices in the background. Beans roasting make the air feel caffeinated. Every once in awhile, I will see a familiar face walk in and say hello. Right now, the world feels right. Ordered. I feel present and loving it.

Life hasn't always been that way. Most of my awkward and crazy adolescent years have been spent hating some part of my life. I've hated the way people treat each other, the things people believe about themselves, and the hopelessness found at the end of all humanity's efforts to get things to work. I've struggled to unveil the pattern, order, meaning of it all. I've been stuck in an ever-looping existential crisis. Adolescence for me was waking up from a dream and realizing the dream was better than what I woke up to. Life was all wrong for me. It was heavy, disturbing, and hopeless.

This year has been characterized by kicking down the door and entering adulthood. My attitude toward life has changed. Part of maturing is realizing that I am meant to do something with the few years I walk the earth. It's liberating to see the things I've learned, skills I have, and passions zooming around inside of me position me to help others have hope too. That is real beauty.

I've been working on a bug collection for my ecology class, pictured above. Bugs are creatures I've often overlooked. This class has taught me to see the small things. When walking through the gardens at school, I'm impressed about the orange flowers drawing the butterflies. I think about how cicadas project their noises onto other bushes to mask their location. I also ponder the agility of the dragonflies that make them so hard to catch with my little net. There is beauty in all things if we care to look. To overlook the small things is to miss something much more monumental. Everything has a place, an order, and that order is good.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Artistic Timing

I spend most of my time on the shores of tables, exploring the depths of human intelligence and trying to glean as much as I can from what I find. My days as a student have resumed. After a summer of quiet contemplation on the Swedish countryside, I am ready to face the frights of the semester with a level head. A little, but important, thing I learned this summer is about timing. In the west, we are so concerned with scheduling everything in our days. In the east, time is more of a fluid concept, and things eventually fall together in some kind of natural order. Many times, I scold myself for being too slow or thinking too deeply about something. Fast or slow, which is more true to the natural order of things? The way I, personally, should live? As a scientist, punctuality is an asset. As an artist, I try to provide space for my emotions. These two ways of thinking rule these very different areas of study, and I see the clear divide while I come from my art history class to ecology class. 

Time is linear, but humans are not. People are like ghosts. They live long after they are dead - if only in someone's memory. My memories are not linear. My current experience steers the organization of my memories. That is probably why having a long lunch with an old friend makes all the years of silence melt away like ice on a warm day. Time is not linear in our heads. It's hard for me to conform to the scheduling nonsense while I acknowledge its usefulness. At least in the west, I think artists are the best at living in accordance to their nature. Being an artist is not a glamorous path. Being an artist takes making a real decision, because eating is a must. I don't know if I can call myself an artist, but I do make art. Other priorities such as studying, projects, and traveling get in the way of artmaking, but once I come back to it I feel like time has no meaning. I am just floating along on a thought cloud. 

Even if life is crazy. Even if I can't follow through with all my goals and be the person I want to be. Even if the road ahead is shrouded in mystery, I will continue to allow myself to think and feel. Art is a part of that. Everything happening in a linear fashion isn't important. Even if I leave my blog for about eight months, I am proud to accomplish the act of coming back. 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Ten Days of Sketching! (4/10)


My house has a lot of chairs. They probably outnumber people present--even during parties. My family has inherited collections of early twentieth century furniture, so the theme of my interior is coincidentally a postmodern blend of past and present. 

But chairs are useful things! Not only do they seat people, but are excellent for building forts and casting laundry upon. Some are decorative. Some are comfortable. The all purpose nature and individual character of chairs makes me think of people. Discovering yourself is just the step before committing to an occupation, role, etc. It is a crucial step. 

Before college, I tended to not care what people thought about me and my career goal of becoming a physician. I welcomed the challenge of it. Hard work was not new to me. But somewhere between high school graduation and now, I started caring more about what people thought. The onset was gradual and seemingly well intentioned by me, but it replaced my hope with doubt. I listened to people tell me what kind of chair I was. That I was a decorative living room chair only useful for being sat in. That may be what other people see, but their point of view is arbitrary if I am certain of what kind of chair I am. I'm stepping away from all comments about my degree and embracing what I know is true. I am a transportable camping chair, able to withstand the rain and dreary days. I'm in it for the long haul. In the end, I will achieve what I set out to do.

-M