Seized unexpectedly by the desire to guard my personal life, I am going to fastforward past the details of this afternoon, and we are going to arrive at the moment of discovery: I am sitting at a colleague’s desk, needing to kill time. There is a bag of pastel crayons on her desk. My joy is complete.
I am not a talented visual artist, but I like playing with colors in my free time. My refrigerator is covered in my own art. One of my masterpieces, now lost, was a sketch of Augustine and Ambrose, walking down a path with the caption reading “Best Friends Forever” (yes, I’ve moved into the ‘embrace the weird’ part of my life).
Since I’d walked down to the other room with nothing to kill time but writing, I resigned myself to making art on my lined legal pad. I picked out a delicate cornflower and outlined a star. Then I chose a rich purple to fill the star in, planning to write out my colleague’s name in another beautiful color and leave in on her desk. As I was smearing purple across the inside of the star I realized the color wasn’t spreading quite right. All of the impressions from yesterday’s post – written on the same legal pad- were keeping the color from distributing clearly. Even in a cute drawing left for a colleague one would be able to see all of my secrets, scribbled all over the page.
I’ve never been good at being someone other than who I am, and I’ve never been good at keeping secrets. I wonder if now I have passed the point where I can avoid being followed around by what has come before. Even if everything I ever wrote was burned to dust tomorrow, it couldn’t eliminate the opinions and convictions that have formed me thusfar.
And so I rejoice, that my prior thoughts are still a part of what I do today. I didn’t force the crayon to fill in all the divvies of my truth. I finished the ugly picture and left it for a friend who already knows my secrets, and if she didn’t, would understand. I will spend the rest of my life trying to make things that are beautiful, and I will do that all in the shadow of what has come before.