Year’s End: Reflection

Nearly four years has passed since I decided I would make writing a central part of my life. It’s the end of the year. My journey as a writer has taken me deep into myself, and I am feeling more sure than I did four years ago, more than I did one year ago.

Let me start with that story, that cold February afternoon, when my husband (then boyfriend) and I made our way to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts for a day of artimancy.

Artimancy. The word, when I first heard it, I think it made me think of spiders. But my boyfriend had told me about his professional development session at work, where a docent had held their arm and, eyes closed, he and his colleagues had voiced aloud a question (“What can I do to be more productive this year?” “How can I be a better team member?” etc.) and then walked blind through the museum, their guide keeping them traipsing headlong through any paintings, until they felt the moment was right to open their eyes. Open them they would, and whatever artwork was in front of them they would examine for an answer to their question.

Valentine’s Day was a Saturday that year, and the museum was swarming with couples. The danger of walking into someone was significantly higher than an average day, but I closed my eyes nevertheless, and put out my arm.

I don’t remember what question I asked, but I remember pointing my finger at Taren’s proffered map, then being led to whatever mysterious corner of the museum I had indicated, up stairs, around echoing corners, light glowing pink through my eyelids, then black in the shadows. “We’re here,” he said, and cautiously I began to lead us. Where is the place? Where should I open my eyes? Here? Oh, why not. No, wait. I’ll turn, go a little farther. I remember feeling currents of air. I remember a sweaty hand.

What I remember the most was when I opened my eyes. Before me were two vases:

What did I say about them? What was I feeling? How can I say precisely now? I know that I cried, and I know my outpouring was intense. I know that it was a moment of great anxiety and clarity and intimacy. I seem to remember that in the righthand vase, I saw depth, and I saw a tree growing up the side. The lefthand vase, I think I saw superficiality in life, decoration over substance. I remember asking myself, what does it mean to live like the righthand vase? I remember a small panic inside me, clutching Taren’s hand. I remember saying, “I need writing to be a part of my life again.”

My writing journey was slow to embark, but bit by bit, I have pushed myself. I have a novel manuscript. I’m blogging. I’m trying to make this happen. It is happening.

But I want to do more. I want to write more consistently and more regularly. I am looking for ways to help myself do that. I think that will be another blog post, coming up, my goals for the new year.

In the meantime, I am revisiting that museum corridor, the high ceilings, the white walls. I am revisiting the giddiness I felt that day, wondering what people would think when they saw these two young men leading one another by the arm. And I am revisiting those two vases. I imagine that no matter what my eyes had met that day, my answer would not have been so different. The answer, after all, was inside anyway. But those vases, they are messengers, and seeing them now, they are like old friends.

Thank you, vases. I’m glad I am pursuing this path. I’ll see where it takes me.

Thank you, readers, for being a part of my journey too. I would love to hear from you, about your journeys, about your reflections. Best wishes for the last day of the year.

Jimmy

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