I experienced a major transformation in July 2020-one of the only good things that happened this year. As with any transformation in life I wasn’t looking for it, but it mowed me down. I suppose all the work had been done before and I was preparing myself for it without even knowing it. I was raised Catholic, but I have not been a practicing Catholic since I was in grammar school and I am now 62. While I had been forced to go to church I was not a believer. Yet the Catholic iconography was imprinted in my mind and still to this day I hold on to it. So maybe that is why the word transformation is so rich in meaning for me-the transformation of Christ comes to mind with all of its provocative imagery. It is a cross to bear so to speak, or maybe just a colorful way to express what is so illusive to express in words.
So what was this major transformation of mine? It hit me like a lightening bolt: I was a survivor and no longer a victim, or as Gail Godwin wrote in her book Father Melancholy’s Daughter, I had gone from my who-ness to my what-ness. I was no longer a slave to my past, to the blaming of others for who I had become or didn’t become. I could now solely (or soully) live the life I was meant to live. My what-ness is now what is important in my life, my what-ness being my total dedication to being a collage artist. Gone was the doubt and blame as to why it had taken me so long to find it. The only thing that matters is that I am doing what I love and not how long it has taken me. I found collage when I was 60. It boggled my mind that it took so long, and when I was in my who-ness phase it mattered that I know why. Now it is enough just being here. The past is not now looked upon as an impediment to finding my calling, but it is the reason I found it.
In Father Melancholy’s Daughter there is a quote spoken by Father Gower, the Episcopalian priest, “Just ride your little donkey as best you can, focus daily on those places in your own existence where intensity blazes up…and let God do the rest.” You can substitute the word God for whatever, but being the old lapsed Catholic that I am, God it is. The thing that is important is that you do follow the path where there are the hottest blazes, the perpetual light, and then get out of the way and let what is out of your control take over. It has taken me years of darkness to find that blaze. You need the darkness to know the light. Sometimes it still takes me a bit to get back on track, but at least now I always know when I am off track. Not to sound too melodramatic, it is now a cross that enables me to carry out my what-ness, which allows me to live totally and in harmony with myself most times, and perhaps even the universe. That can sound rather grandiose and pompous, but I am talking about the feeling of there being a sense of rightness about what I am doing, and knowing when I am failing to do it. Knowing when I have let my donkey deviate. Now I just get slowly back on course instead of totally crashing.
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