Shulamith, Sketch Book
Inspired by the wonderful "Everything Is Alive" project
I wish she would use me more.
Last year, wow, last year was the best. There was a stretch of several days, maybe weeks even, when my person held me every day. She opened me and really brought me to life. She filled me with objects and colors – a drinking glass, a rocking chair, a sleeping dog, an open door, a ripe banana, a taco truck, a bottle of red nail polish, a perfect peach, a hungry little sparrow, a tea light, creamy coffee, an old friend's profile, a sun-leaning succulent, a boy in tree pose, a bowl of pears, a tree in bloom, a stargazer lily, a bluejay feather, a pink chair.
It was glorious. I'd sit in the sun in the mornings, waiting for her caress, her caring touch. I'd feel her hand hovering just above my blank pages, and the anticipation – it just shot through me. I can't explain it. It was electric. Like, we really had something. I couldn't wait for each new day to arrive. Couldn't wait to see what she would discover, what she would see, how she would use me.
And then she stopped. I don't know what I did. She just stopped picking me up. She stopped talking to me altogether. Friends suggested she probably just got distracted – I do know I got put in a box and found myself living on a different surface in a room that faced east instead of south, so there was a move of some kind...
I know it probably wasn't personal. But I really went through a deep depression, a dark night of the soul you could say. It was a lonely winter. It's no joke being single when you're my age, half-full, not so many blank pages left. You start to wonder if you'll ever be loved again...
Last week, something miraculous happened. I almost cried. She came back. She was on some kind of Zoom thing with about 80 other people, and I recognized several cousins and even kids I'd lived with back on the shelf before Hastings closed, where I was born. It was amazing. We were all there, open-faced, ready to receive colored pencils and watercolors and charcoal and ink and paper and glue...
My person got out her colored pencils – the big set she has hardly used (I know because we talk at night sometimes in the dark) – and I felt her really let loose. She wrote, "I wonder" at the top of my latest blank page and then she started sketching, long water lines and a dark void and a more words – "what happens after the sea parts" – that I didn't understand but that didn't matter because I was elated, I was floating on these very waves and currents she was making in me, blues and greens and purples and yellows. Oh, I was so happy!
I wish I had a moral to my story for you. I think what I really want to say is, don't give up hope. If you are just sitting there, waiting day after day for someone to notice you, remember that your worth is not based on how beautiful the pictures are on your pages.
You matter just because you matter. Even when you feel kind of useless, you are a beautiful, powerful symbol of possibility, of creativity, of risk-taking. You are doing incredible work by remaining available and being willing to be opened. I'm so glad I didn't throw myself into the recycle bin last winter, since if I had I never would have had this amazing experience.
p.s. Guess what? She took that picture from me over the weekend. But it's ok, because her son liked it so much that she’s framing it for his 17th birthday. I can't really think of anything that would make me feel more special.
This piece was inspired by the Everything Is Alive project, “an interview show in which all the subjects are inanimate objects. In each episode, a different thing tells us its life story–and everything it says is true.” Listen to them all – you will not regret it!
“What if doing what you love could be framed as challenging but worth it? And what if we could acknowledge that doing something you love and are challenged by is much easier than doing something that’s thought of as easier, but is boring and not challenging?”
Go right this minute and read every word of Yes, I Know How Hard It Is by Julianna Baggott.
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