The End of Bad Art

I think that everything matches.

“It’s a feeling” I’m explaining to Luke as we’re discussing home decor.  Every piece of art I’ve ever owned is strewn across the living room.  He’s doing his thoughtful eyes which offer no feedback other than: “I’m listening.” I continue, “You know…like…you can’t really say WHY it goes together but it just goes?” Thoughtful eyes are continuing in their thoughtfulness and I’m doing a bit of an upstream paddle. “Like…textures can create feeling and layers can create feeling (paddle, paddle)…but the whole traditional, things must be symmetrical…same patterns…same color scheme…well, that’s not really me.” Pause. Luke says, “Are you trying to say…you like things to…coordinate?” Yeah.Mmhmm.Yes.That’s right.  I hate it when one word says more than the ten I just chose.  He continues, “You know, I like things to coordinate too…but…sometimes, I think your coordination is eclectic.” Yes.Mhmm.This is true too. Geeesh, he’s picking good words, I am a quirk-collector. Thoughtful eyes are looking a little more deliberate. As poker-faced as he can be, I have a sneaking-suspicion that eclectic isn’t Luke’s favorite. “Is eclectic not your favorite?” I ask.

I feel a bit like I did in sixth grade when I learned that my let’s have sleepovers every night and share all our secrets and braid each other’s hair bestie had an off-my-radar addiction to that horrible Halo Nintendo game. I was a bit of a late bloomer and probably still wanted to play with dolls and climb trees. When her older cousin introduced her to this nightmare of a game I thought our chemistry was kaput. Fortunately, my more current situation wasn’t completely like this one, mostly because I don’t braid Luke’s hair like I did her’s (Ha.Ha.).

Hair jokes aside, I learned a couple of things about myself and us that evening as I tried to paddle-convince my husband to hang every piece of bad art I’ve ever owned in our living room 1. It’s pretty immature, but I like to share favorites (as in things) with my favorites (as in people). And, I get kind of pouty when we don’t. Ok, so I guess that part is totally juvenile.  2. I really do think everything matches.  Where Luke sees grandma garage sale I see thrifty creativity. Luke sees color-overload I see rainbows. Luke sees crusty piece of furniture, I see antique with personality and story.  I’m realizing this either makes sweet hubs sound a little Scrooge-ish or makes myself sound like a bit of a  sob-story in the taste department. What can I say? We were disagreeing and hardly diplomatic.  Besides, I’m not claiming to be unbiased.

So we skated past the polarizing talk  (“Do you like this?” “No.”  “What about this?” “Nope.” “Or, this?” “Um, no.”) and onto something else…I don’t remember what, I think I strated to make Luke and I a joint Pintrest account so we might merge our tastes at which point, it was time to go to bed.  The threads of our conversation, however, tied my thoughts down to this:  am I some sort of disorganized control freak?

{secretly pushing, shoving, forcing}

 It’s funny, to most,  I am not a control-freak. I’m incapable of putting the serving spoons in the same drawer every time. They have about five different homes. If a line is crooked, I think it’s straight. I’ve walked into work with my cardigan on inside out.  My dresser drawers explode yet every morning I try to jam them shut. I have no “morning routine.” I am not tied to any one breakfast cereal.  There is no method to my madness, and when I think of control, I think of method, deliberation, habit and detail. I have had impeccable friends like this. They are dear and always freshly pressed. I would also never house-sit for them.

It’s embarassing, but I think my control is less sincere. “Everything matches!” I say. “We can all be friends!” I say. “Anything goes!” I say. This is pseudo-harmony. You know how I know? Because most days, I am just too attachable. I can be like a flipping barnacle. I am deeply connected to you or the idea of you or the plans you have for your life. I am deeply connected to me and my memoires and my imagination and ambitions. Heck, I am deeply connected to my dog and to hydrangeas and to bad art. As I’ve written before, these are my circles and I love them. Sometimes, my thought and analysis can moderate the peaks and valleys that come of  passion. But at the end of the day, my heart is pretty wild and I crylaugh A.LOT. So, when I start the whole everything is everyone and anyone can be everything forever? I’m not being real. Resident “free-spirit” is covertly laying things out in the images of freedom, delight and love. Last time I checked, these are the kinds of things we can’t fake. When I am being everyone, I mean,  wanting everything, I mean  matching everything, okay, pretending, I am image and projection more than I am Sarah. Sweet-sarah, Eclectic-sarah, Artsy-sarah, Deep-sarah, Good-sarah, Sunshine-sarah…Your-sarah…NotYour-sarah…

{on-on-on.get-get-get.more-more-more}

I can only possess myself this way, I cannot free myself this way. And I really want to be free, don’t you? Image is so inconsequential. Luke and I were watching National Geographic’s “The Living Body” documentary (highly recommend) and it explains the outward aging process. Why is it that our tight skin, pronounced cheekbones, and opened eyes sag and shift and fade with time?  Our cells copy themselves throughout our life-span. So, at age 83, cells have copied themselves many many more times than at age three. Just like a photocopy times one million holds weaker semblance to its orignial than a photocopy times one hundred, an 83 year old will look less like her orignial young self.  If we lived to be 400 we’d basically just be one big wrinkle-blur. I bet this is how the men of the Old Testament looked walking around the Holy Land. They were shriveled up waifs, nearly invisible and self-forgotten, with souls bigger than the sun. Maybe that’s why God let them live so long.

It seems like one would become more clearly defined as we age, but our appearance doesn’t, does it? Our image becomes murky and uninmportant. Granny doesn’t model. She is not Sexygranny, Sultrygranny, Seductivegranny, InShapegranny. She’s just Granny.  She is who she is who she is but she is image-less. The beauty is in her diminuendo. The subtraction. In us becoming less of the image, the truth has space to breathe. “Finally,” Truth says. “You have let me out! I love you so much and have been waiting for you for so long!”

{ Dear Truth, I am sorry that I squelch You. I sure don’t know why I resist your eternal freedom.}

Have you ever met image-less people? I can think of a few that I know. They are altogether bare and full, and when we talk, I am challenged, cared for and safe. But mostly, I am just Sarah in her Sarah-ness. The most image-less experience I’ve ever had, though, was in Rwanda.  We spent time at an orphanage near Uganda. It was far away from Kigali, where we stayed. We had woken up early that morning and I was still jet-lagged and tired. I remember not showering and wearing crumpled up clothes. My hair was slicked back. I was carsick from being jolted around in the back of our bus.  But when we arrived, they sang.  These little ones in blue outfits with shaved heads, sang to us. We didn’t understand anything, but they kept singing and holding our hands and jumping.

Truly, I forgot myself because they were so full. The day is piecemeal, but sunny with perfection. We couldn’t talk to each other and we knew it, so we just kept laughing.

 And when our sides hurt, we started dancing, and then we played some more. In that day, yes, everything did match. Everything and nothing, that is.  It was the kind of day that was totally unified, totally outisde of things and totally not mine.

I did not taste or collect or capture or feel love…there was too much! It could have floated me right up to the sky. Maybe it did. Maybe that day was so wonderful because I was just a feathery wrinkle-blur of a girl, unburdened by bad art and favorites and flying free.

Lord, please help me to grow wings.

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