Isn’t this beautiful? Small signs of spring are starting to sprout from thawed ground, songs ring throughout the steadily thickening tree canopy, life wakens around every corner. The brook that borders my front yard flows brown; a willful winter absolution. Simply breathtaking. Simply springtime.
As a child, my relationship with Santa was laced with trepidation. I can ignore some of the facts; that he invaded my home while I was asleep and helped himself to my cookies. That he followed a barter system which, at his discretion, created an equal exchange rate of cookies to coal. That he sat there and monitored my choices 364 days a year. I could bare these experiences without complaint, and since he always left presents behind I assumed there was a fleck kindness in his heart. But none of these frightened the bells out of my 8 year old self quite like:
♦ taking pictures on Santa’s lap.
Here was this complete stranger (equipped with a beard I wasn’t allowed to tug on), who would only pay attention to my desired material superfluousness and not the dagger of pure FEAR IN MY EYES.
This horrid experience was documented on film. Every. Single. Year.
Here are a few of the Christmas cards I handmade this year. This overwhelmingly ambitious project developed like Gremlins in a pool. I had the intention of making ten cards for family members. Forty cards later I wasn’t even close to satisfied. A healthy mix of tediousness and therapy. A self inflicted craft obligation.
Everything was made from scrapbook paper and scrap paper. I used cookie cutters to trace many of the shapes. The greetings are quotes and jokes that I collected from the internet.
Now we’re exploring the passionate grit, the capacious caverns of instinctive emotion, the burrows of past and future pain manifested into seemingly meaningless tones and frequencies. Cumulatively this is my heart and soul, my desire, my wildfire. Here I am vulnerable; a feeling that is increasingly becoming familiar and comfortable.
I share with you another cover. The strikingly beautiful Braille from Regina Spektor’s debut album 11:11. After a particularly defeating day I sat down at my piano and recorded this on my cellphone. I hope you have time give it a listen.
n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you will never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.
Sometimes I “people watch” when I’m waiting. In lines at the supermarket or inside the plastic cages built at bus stops. I imagine their life in flashes. A memory of a college party, an explosive breakup, the birth of their daughter, sledding down a slope on a picnic table, and the resulted pain of broken bones. I like to imagine their sorrows and their happiness. Their ups and downs.
It exercises my empathy and broadens my perspective. It reminds me that we are all carrying the weight of the world; the baggage of our past. The world I live in is woven by my unique experiences. Every world is different. Every world is important.