…but they don’t always win.
It’s a force of determination with which I’ll enter 2008. This year has truly opened my eyes to so much. It’s hard not to feel invincible after all I’ve been through I became a version of myself so resilient that I manged to get through difficulties and disappointments without flinching. It was something within me, and someone I’m glad to be without, that forged me into the person I am. I pride myself on the success I have earned and the independence I’ll never take for granted. I invest a lot in my few positive relationships with other people. I have observed more than I have interacted, and I have learned far more than I have lost.
I’ve read books. I’ve written everything (a novel’s worth of trash, and maybe something brilliant here and there). I’ve experienced amazing new music. Made new friends I hope to keep and cut ties with those who wounded me. I have created art. I have gone on midnight runs. I’ve had sand between my toes. I’ve felt the heights of both passion and hate. I’ve laughed until I’ve cried…and cried until all I could do was laugh.
I have a new sense of self going into this year. As I struggle to find the balance between my desires and my reality, it’s nice to know I’m not alone on my journey…but maybe nicer to know that when I am alone, I’m completely unafraid. There have been many times when my fear could have held me back, from my freedom, from adventures, from going places and meeting people, but I chose not to let it. I can’t calm down my restless mind. I can’t stop daydreaming and procrastinating. But I own my emotions, and through my emotions, my life…which so often I feel is just beginning.
I appreciate my brain, my spine, my guts. If you cut me, I still bleed. I’m fragile, often vulnerable and ultimately I’m still human. I can trip and fall. I make mistakes. I’m up and down and always changing. I contradict myself. My imperfect, blundering existence is what makes it beautiful. All any of us can hope to be is the best version of ourselves…to fan the flames of possibility to become sparks of achievement. I am flawed. But I’ve learned and I’ve grown, I’ve ached and I’ve longed and I have not only pushed, but forced myself to stay on top. I’m setting new goals for myself and constantly raising the bar. Not to impress you. Because at the end of the day, I like being impressed with myself. It’s my journey, and this time to reflect on this year and aspire for the year ahead fills me with such a profound sense of calm.
So much I don’t understand. So much I want to become…
When: August 18th, 2005 | Where: Boston, Massachusetts
My [former] grandmother-in-law and I stumbled upon the Gardner Museum completely by mistake–credit my forgetfulness. We were supposed to be visiting the Museum of Fine Arts during our Boston visit, but I (naturally) forgot the all-important discounted passes I made such a fuss about getting from my local library. Kate had mentioned something about this to me one time when we were waiting at the DMV (that’s a whole other story!) and it seemed interesting; neither one of us had ever been before. I wasn’t sure what to expect–something along the lines of an old lady’s house. I didn’t expect it to be so grand or so impactive.
A little background: Isabella Stewart Gardner (married to John L. Gardner) was a wealthy socialite in the mid 1800s (1840-1923); she loved Boston’s local culture almost as she loved traveling the world. Her passion was apparent from the moment we stepped into the museum–at one time, the Gardner Museum was her home–and an incredibly stunning one at that; completely unique from anything you could possibly imagine. All 2,500 works of art, sculpture, furniture, tapestries (13 of its finest–estimated at $100 million–were stolen in 1990 and are still missing)–ranging from ancient to mid 19th-century and collected from over 30 countries–have been preserved (for the most part) the way she had arranged them, because that was her parting wish–for all the beautiful things she collected on her travels to be displayed for posterity.
The collection amassed at the Gardner Museum is something more stunning than any museum display I have ever seen. Instead of the harsh halogenic glow and curated atmosphere; I felt as if I had been taken back in time, looking into each room, at each painting, at each sculpture. The courtyard is the most notable–the museum is built around it; with its 240 A.D. mosaic surrounded by stone statues and a graceful fountain on the back wall. It is serene, beautiful, magical; untouched and essentially unchanged since Isabella was alive. Kate and I were completely slack-jawed in amazement as we visited each room, commenting on things as we passed. What struck us most was the intricate detail of everything, and the rich, beautiful history–the art was sensational and deeply moving.
The only way to explain the enchantment of the Gardner Museum is to go there yourself. It’s such a gem of Boston. The things that I found the most interesting were the furniture (you just don’t see curves, paint detailing, scroll work) like that anymore–it’s all pre-fab and everyone’s got the same stuff unless it’s antique) and the ancient Greek sculptures, as well as the religious art. Isabella was a brilliant decorator. She styled her home in an Old-World eclectic style, mixing things from different places and times and arranging them in often quirky and atypical ways. Our visit was fascinating and inspiring–I truly think it was a one-of-a-kind experience I was lucky to have.
Trailer. I know I’m not the only one who’s deliriously excited about this.
It was a stretch of highway
lined with red dust
topped with blue sky
that reminds me of your eyes
because I could never take it all in.
I trip on cracks in the asphalt
my feet are tired, honey.
I pass a girl holding a teddy bear
ragged from too much love.
is that what happened to us?
the man at the gas station
tells me it is going to rain
I hope he is wrong but the sky turned gray
three miles later.
I look up, imagine us coming down
you next to me in the passenger’s seat
singing along so loud
you’d kept my mittens and my heart
that night, do you remember?
together, all the things we swore we’d do
I wish I had your hand to hold
instead I have a plastic bag
and all my weary memories.
the charcoal sky blazes with lightening
and rain makes rivers of my tears
then it comes, impossibly strong
and now you’re faded, gone.
but you will always, always be
I’ve always been a big fan of Jewel’s music and lyrics, so it’s no surprise I fell in love with this book. Breaking free of the constraints of timelines or even stanzas, Jewel’s writing ebbs and flows freely with purity and amazing insight. It is fascinating to read about the often difficult life she had growing up in Alaska, her family life, and her struggles as an aspiring songwriter-musician…when she was younger, and now, as a successful starlet. She teaches us that as our lives change, problems and situations come along, but it’s how one confronts the issues–and how one nurtures one’s own spirit–that truly counts.
Jewel’s constant self-awareness and willingness are evident in every word. Jewel paints ordinary-seeming vignettes with a startling poignancy…embellished with description in just the right way. It’s an amazing book for introspection and reflection regardless of one’s occupation, or how old this book happens to be (published in 2000). Only more proof positive that the written word transcends time and bridges the gap between all of mankind. Jewel is a true inspiration.