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.
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.
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.
(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 blessings—Sandra