A few thoughts: October 21, 2017

(If I were a good blogger, I would hide dates so you wouldn’t know how infrequently I post. We are taught to obscure, if not to lie, at every turn, aren’t we?)

We all have an interior life. Most of us will have hidden things resting on our shoulders and whispering to us while stories flow from our mouths. For me, always, there is the weight of my anxiety, the way it likes to hold its hands to my ears and control what I hear while I stand there, smiling, listening to you. That is how it has mostly been for me. That is how I expect it always will be. It makes it hard to communicate regularly and fully when what I would say, if I were honest, is most likely: I saw a convocation of crows today in the pine trees and ALERT ALERT ALERT THERE ARE MONSTERS AT THE DOOR.

Only this year there are monsters at the door. This year my childhood nightmares of nuclear war sit within arm’s reach, the soul-destroying force of IT from A Wrinkle In Time and King Leck from Graceling have their hands on the helm of my country, and we are being urged to destroy one another as fast as we can. There are so many whispers in my ears that it is very hard to also communicate on a human level. To say in Amsterdam I saw a court of birds called to order next to a drawbridge, pigeons and jackdaws and magpies collecting around a somber gray heron. To talk about the red in the leaves when we came home, or how Baby Dog leaps over the chair, or whether I am likely to find canning lids this late in the season.

In Amsterdam, we went to the Resistance Museum. We studied how ordinary people make their decisions, how we are shaped and how we refuse to accept the shaping, how comfort is drawn, how we become great not by chasing the spotlight but by drawing together. I was acutely aware of my nationality there, and of the answers I sought.

At the Van Gogh Museum, the exhibits also told a story. The work arranged in a roughly chronological path from the bottom exhibit floor to the top, it traces the life of an artist finding their way. Every self portrait is an experiment of technique, every painting a constant reaching out for more. And even with the end near, the color, the passion, the stretch to communicate what rested on his shoulders and whispered in his ears continued, brilliantly. At the Resistance Museum there was a much smaller exhibit of paintings, just an handful, found by a family member who went back to where her brother and father had been hidden before they died during the war. Color, life, an opening to that interior world that is at the heart of each of us, even in the darkness.

It was, to be honest, the first time in a long time that I was able write without all the whispers and the weight.

Until later, dear ones.


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