Work in progress

There is a voice that doesn’t use word. Listen. – Rumi

Petite boule magique (16 May 2020)

In Petite boule magique, a little girl stands alone against the backdrop of a white winter day. In her mitten-clad hands, a snowball the size, shape, and color of her own head which hovers, detached, above her body. The ball is precious to her; she holds it in front of her heart, she gazes at it lovingly, but with her head slightly tilted to the side as if she has never seen it before.

The piece intrigues you, but only for a moment. Petite boule magique is just another painting, and you do with it that which you have done with all the paintings you’ve been churning out up until now: you put it in your storage pop-up coffee table and pay it no more mind.

Or so you think.

The heart had spoken, its question is now in the air: “Who am I?”

“The boxes,” a voice says in response.

“The boxes in the back bedroom!” you think, then: “But the world is in lockdown! There are no buses or trains or planes! I’ll have to rent a car and drive myself up there! Me, drive? From Brooklyn to Maine? I’m too scared! I’ll die! I can’t do it!”

But you can, and you will. You must. The voice is not giving you any other option.

“When the school year ends,” it says, “you will get into a rental car and make the 375-mile trek from Brooklyn to your childhood home. It will take you nine hours. You will get turned around and lost three times before even getting out of the city. You will end up somehow on Long Island. You will cry, of course. Once in fear. Another time in frustration. You will want to turn your boat around. But you won’t. You will keep going. Why? Because you have a mission to accomplish. You must sort through those boxes of old school papers, personal letters, books, and photos. Your old school papers,personal letters, books, and photos. You must do with these things what the little girl in Petite boule magique is doing: hold them out at arm’s length and look at them. Really look at them. Not with the head, but with the heart.”

In Maine, you find the boxes as you left them a hundred years before: sealed with packing tape and stacked neatly one on top of the other in the corner of the back bedroom. Some of them are labeled; most of them are not. They are all heavy. You bring them down to the kitchen, one at a time. And for four peaceful days working alongside your mother, you do what you came here to do: you sort through it all, this life. Your life. It is a beautiful life. You, as well, are beautiful. You are a poet and an artist, a writer, and a musician. You are adventurous and daring and fun-loving. You are intelligent, witty, and funny. You are so awesome. People love you. It’s a wonder you don’t, too.

Waterstain for Petite boule magique

If this trip to Maine were a Hollywood movie, it would close with you putting the three boxes of things you deem important enough to keep into the rental car before driving away to the sound of dramatic yet uplifting music. The screen would black out, the words Mission accomplished would flash across it, and everyone in the theatre would stand up and cheer. The star knows herself! The star loves herself! She can now live happily ever after!

But this is not a Hollywood movie. It has no ending. Only beginnings. Getting to know yourself doesn’t happen over the course of four days. Loving yourself, either. This kind of thing takes time, a lifetime; this kind of thing is a work in progress.

1 thought on “Work in progress”

Leave a Comment