Updated: Jun 2, 2021
I met Kathleen Nilsson at Nina's Coffee Café on Cathedral Hill in St. Paul. Her table next to me was covered with glorious colors, pencil sticks, drawing tablets, devices with art apps. Later I'd see her there with a local artist group, meeting to share sketches and inspiration. I recognized the happiness that comes with flow, the joy of abandoning oneself to the muses, all channels open for translation of the living world through the senses.
This joy does not extend to the eyes.
My friends who sing, who paint, have the heartiest and throatiest laughter in the room, peeling across crowded bars and concert halls and museum corridors like carillon bells set free on the wind...but their eyes carry a sadness, a grief, a comprehension of the ongoing hurt taking place in dark pockets of the planet most of us must ignore in order to survive a day's demands. It's a burden so cumbersome that if it is not released through song, through words, through shaping clay, through the rush of pigment, it will crush them where they stand.
I remember the moment it landed on me. I was about fifteen, dusting a corner end table that had no dust, when I sunk to the floor for a long minute as if in a drunken swoon, closed eyes unable to look away from the sufferings of a million agonized souls clinging to a world mad with disease and pain, the torrents of human and natural powers tearing away the last strands of each one's dignity. I became strangely suicidal from that moment on, a daily confrontation with deciding to continue alive until the cosmic mystery tour bus hastens towards me with my number on its display. So far so good.
Most days we must ignore this paralyzing global vision of wars and tears if we are to finish school, raise a child, pay the bills, get home from the store, take a walk…but when we cannot, out come the easels and the sheet music and the blank pages to fill with our longing for respite, for peace, for the silent safety of a simpler time, when we can play unhindered in the sun for hours until the quilt of night lays us to rest, the gentle angry loving voices of my Maria, Sofia, Kris, Ewa...assuring me a fresh and golden Dawn will be here soon once more.
12 JULY 2019