I got a desk, filing cabinet, and shredder and went to work. About four hours in, I started reflecting that either Loki was the personification of entropy, or that he somehow got himself written into the second law of thermodynamics. As I tried to dump the second load of confetti from the shredder, the edge of the bag slipped and a breeze was blowing around like snow in the summer time and there was a big mess to clean up. I knew that it was funny the way it had happened and wished I could have been watching it rather than experiencing it so that I could have laughed a bit more.
Later, I was cleaning out stacks of papers in a cupboard and found an old essay about Salvador Dali's painting Cannibalism. When I wrote it (in high school), I thought that the painting was profound, but as I remembered it, it seemed cliché. Little pieces of the woman sitting in the man's spoon and in her own. The essay went into the shredder. I remembered a more recent endeavor in art. It was two Christmases ago and Carl convinced everyone to go out with the children to build snowmen. It was the first Christmas in 20 years with enough snow for that. We teamed up with the little ones and they started asking us to help them roll the biggest snowball. It was fun, collecting all of those little snow flakes and turning them into something substantial. We ended up with some snowballs that were about 5 feet tall and quite round. We all piled them up and had to climb on the picnic table to get the top one on. And then somehow, that wasn't good enough. Hilary was hugely pregnant, and still rolling snowballs to try to get the baby to drop. There was a gloriously pregnant woman and a new baby due any day and that seemed worthy of a celebration. We rolled more snowballs that became a huge stomach and two enormous breasts. We shaped an enormous snow Venus, reminiscent of the stone one found in Willendorf, but with a face. Tom teased us about our fertility goddess and although we didn't worship it, it was satisfying to have a large tribute to the woman bearing the child who would be the newest member of the family.
As I remembered that, I was struck by how much I have changed between the essay on Cannibalism and the Snow Venus. How my views about women and men have changed. I started trying to think of defining moments in my life that brought about those changes in perspective and I couldn't. Defining processes? Yes. Defining moments? ......No. I started wondering if the way that one approaches life can be counted as something definitive, when that approach is causing constant change. Are Michelangelo's Awakening Giant, or Young Slave fully defined, left as they are in the middle of the sculpting process? There is still a lot of extra marble that could fly of of those figures and get blown around as dust in a studio.
And then later as I was cleaning up the dust from all of my organizing, it hit me that there was one defining moment that I could remember. I was six (and knowing what I know now I would bet that it was not too long after I had fallen at school and knocked myself out when I hit the back of my head hard on the black top). I couldn't sleep at night and I was so scared. It seemed strange to me that I was more afraid at age six than I had been at two or four. I was ashamed of how scared I was and wished that I could sleep so that I wouldn't feel afraid. I wanted Mom to stay with me until I was asleep night after night. And I had wet the bed twice, which was something I had never ever done, ever. A six year old doesn't have much to be proud of and sleeping well and good bathroom skills had been two of the best things I had going for me. My little life was flying apart. Mom thought I was jealous and needed more attention. I tried to tell her I was just scared and I didn't even know I was asleep or that I had to go to the bathroom when I wet the bed. It just happened. She asked me what I thought we should do about it and I didn't know.
Later, when I was awake and afraid, I remembered I could pray to not be afraid and I prayed. And then the defining moment came. I felt very warm and very calm and well loved and I fell asleep. Some sort of new material was gathered up into the little six year old person I was. I still woke up three or four times in the night just to check if I still felt that way. I did, every single time until the morning came.
4 years ago