In the early '90's I made a diligent habit of filling a relatively thick 6 x 6 lined-paper journal with my thoughts and feelings. This is a fact I accurately remembered but I'd presumed to add a third component this journal contained: authentic (if at times ruefully acquired) Experiential Wisdom. Alas there was not a drop of that except in the ways I instinctively reworked the journal in an ongoing project of soothing a younger version of myself with a whole slew of Just You Wait & See's using collage to talk to this former wired-super-tightly iteration:
The above fragment is highly revealing and I left it in tact without a lot of alteration or second-guessing. A major part of our Family Legend is that it was J. and J. alone who needed to get out of the city in order to live deliberately among as many trees as possible. In this oft-reflected version of how things apparently never happened -- I was thriving as never before in the city. It's how I remember things being so clearly but - SO CLEARLY - only in retrospect.
Once I let-in the awareness I'd been just as edgy to leave - in favor of trees and ponds and maybe even a nearby river and mile after mile of organically rural landscapes - as he was, a great many dominoes fell perceptually. All I had to do was start turning them around to some Deep Work of great value to me. I saw and seized the unique opportunity to dialogue back and forth with myself in a way I understood would bring more peace and understanding. Maybe even some sustainable healing.
[spoiler alert: it brought TONS of healing as well as tons of respect for the truly limitless work and play collage offers us if we're of a mind to test pretty much any pet or spontaneously healing theory we may embrace.]
In the old days when I excelled at just going so much it often startled me that people even had a name for Doing It - All I had to do was have a tiny spark of a notion and BAM an entire river's rushing waterfall of Ideas was mine for the picking & choosing. I understood the value of covering 3/4's of the content because most of it related to ENDLESS bitching and legit yet overly lengthy frustration about an inter-city educational liaison committee I was part of for - according to my hyperbolic venting of the time - about three thousand eternities in a bureaucratic circle of hell. It was actually a period of three and a half months according to the entries' timeline.
live and learn. in oh so many ways. In my efforts I worked with papers I'd made in a Cambridge adult education class during the time frame in which I'd kept this journal. Within its original pages I expressed Very Upset-ness that I hadn't enjoyed said workshop and that its unpleasantly messy nature was compounded by my good neighborliness helping out the teacher for 20 crucial opening minutes that left me and another oh-sure amiable classmate SOL when it came to working with the "good" color dyeing options. Nonetheless I persevered in re-writing even that undeniable shard of reality - thrilled that I'd kept these papers for so long even though every time I came across them I curled inward with dislike and silently urged myself to toss 'em and be glad. Because now I had walnut ink spray inks to alter the colors. And lordy lou - I had me a mess of stencils as well.
I wound up equally thrilled that i could never convince myself to trade-away my few remaining scraps of a fabric I used to make trousers I wore to the point of shredding 14 years later. I also commemorated an event this journal time frame didn't include but it WOULD happen right on the cusp of my feeling so unEmpowered and trapped in place: a carefully planned creative celebration I co-hosted there in the same space where I cried the blues about people I wrote of endlessly then but now cannot pull up a face or any other detail about a single one of their names.
Many of the papers and images, as well as the interests and fascinations implied by both colors and content, were collected and saved/initiated in the time frame I'd been so startled and ultimately disappointed to realize I wasn't very much enjoying - allowing myself to enjoy - knowing HOW to enjoy - while being smack-dab in middle of the supposedly best years of my life. I recall fully realizing I should be enjoying them. I also didn't go much more than a couple of hours without considering myself immeasurably fortunate and blessed. but I was so freakin' frustrated, concurrently, by so many things involved with big city reality that I am not sure why I contributed heavily to our Legend's narrative of having been thriving there.
Things I instinctively saved from that time now mingle freely with representations, and materials, from the present tense. I focused on things Back Then me would have loved too much to let terminal over-stimulation and circumstantial overwhelm keep me from smiling and playing. Are you kidding me? I would have bucked-up ten ways from Sunday if I'd had even a glimmer of knowing what was in store when I was moving in on being twice the age I was then.
Above: a close-up shot of a still unfinished page. The gift paper was saved from my birthday. I remember quite clearly how thrilled I was to see the wrapping - already planning to squirrel-aside a section before the package was directly offered to me. Have zero recall what the gift was or who gave it to me. The paper Thing was already quite well established and I'm glad because it's enriched my ongoing collaging experience.
Unfortunately a lot of broad strokes weren't destined to be hunky dory for Future me because, of course, I live on this planet in these times. It took me a long while to decide exactly what kind of warning/check I might have wished I could receive if I could have seen what was coming clearly enough to realize I really needed to pay a lot more attention to things Beyond.