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letting go of 2020 + the alchemy of ink

I find myself standing in my living room holding on to 2020—literally holding on to an oversized wall calendar of the past year. It is more than a metaphor. I cannot let it go. 

2020 in golden foil balloons, each number held up by a white hand

(Photo by Sarah Pflug on Burst)

Normally, I buy my new calendar—which is no longer available and quite disorienting, since it’s the one new year’s ritual I can actually complete—take down last year’s, roll it up and file it away in my calendars of yore poster tube, which I then tuck neatly away until another year goes by. 

I keep them because it’s a sort of document of our lives. Birthday parties, doctors appointments, sporting events, injuries, colds, vacations—it’s all charted in one giant place. 2020 is nearly bare. I have two months and nine days of proof-of-life events then I have: March 9, exposed to Covid. I have a few more days of notes, stuffy nose, fever 100.2, Vi’s birthday with a large X through it, steel drum performance, another X—then nothing really. A tick bite and antibiotics, another three family birthdays, Thanksgiving crossed out, Christmas. That’s it. 

Why haven’t I rolled it up and put it away. I think I haven’t yet processed this past year and I’m not sure I want to file it away. I’m tempted to burn it, tonight. 

white woman in blue toque grasping an oversized 2020 wall calendar

I am now seated outside, cold hands, typing at our picnic table. The wind catches the calendar and blows it noisily to my feet. I couldn’t make this up. It’s as though the calendar has a life of its own, willing me to reconcile my feelings towards everything that’s happened. 

The calendar is also a life-sized reminder of my to-do list, which is calendaring master classes for our maker space with teachers like American-born, Italian-based artist, Marta Abbott. We will host her art show this summer, as well as her ink-making workshop: the alchemy of color. Our conversations are easy, lovely, and inspiring. They often meander towards what I interpret to be at the heart of her art: the process. That it is, a process.

She makes her ink from materials she forages in whatever place she finds herself. And since I’m not an artist, I feel the word ink isn’t big enough to capture what it is she creates. 

a golden U with a pebble of sorts nestled within it, inky shades of gold and blue by artist Marta Abbott

(Art by Marta Abbott)

Her art is radiant. It cuts through me—I think it’s because I feel her process within the finished piece. That it looks very much alive and not finished at all, the way the light hits and illuminates something new every time I look. Abbott speaks of how her ink-making “has a lot to do with materiality, experimenting, researching, connecting past to present and of course investigating nature and our relationship with it.” I think of my calendar. Of our past year—there’s a lot to digest. 

Because we haven’t yet calendared a date for Marta’s show and ink-making class, I will talk about her again, so I cannot possibly reveal everything now.

I’ll close with this insight she shared about her inks and her art: “I like when things deviate from the original plan, creatively speaking. It forces you to find new solutions to certain kinds of challenges and I think that’s a large part of what creativity is about”—I suppose it's the alchemy of it, two parts science, three parts art. 

Yes—it might also be the key to a life well-lived. Thinking of all the creative ways we’ve dealt with this past year, I might be able to see 2020 in a new light, with all the rich experiences and color it offered up. Not what I was expecting, it's what we got.  

I roll up my calendar and tuck it away—but not before tearing a small piece from it. I’m going to burn that tonight.

Until next time, make room for new blessingsSandra

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