Thursday, August 7, 2008

A True Legacy

I seem to wish to have some importance in the play of time…What is deep, as love is deep, I’ll have Deeply. What is good, as love is good, I’ll have well. Then if time and space have any purpose, I shall belong to it.
-Jennet Jourdemayne
(Christopher Fry)

Every morning I wake up to paintings of my great-grandmother. Their images are imprinted into my eyelids, centering me before I go to sleep and before I get out of bed. Sometimes I stare at them for a long time, looking at her brushstrokes, wondering about her and how she was. Up close the paintings show the minutiae, I can almost feel her painting, see what she saw and, from afar, you can almost smell the day they were painted. Her subject was always nature and landscapes, equally imprinted in my mind and senses…grassy fields of the California foothills, piney mountains, bald hillsides seen for their bare lines and beauty.

My great grandmother was a great lover of nature. She collected rocks (a passion I am haunted with), painted avidly, created everything from her own jewelry to her own rock and concrete BBQ. She loved plants. She seemed like the kind of woman who could get things done, who knew what she loved and was prolific. Interested and interesting.

It is noteworthy that those who inspire and interest us the most are often admired not for what they were but for rather who they were. My great grandmother had no profession as far as I know, maybe rancher; she was rather who she was, perfectly expressed. None of her paintings were professional, she was not going for greatness, she was going for the moment. She was inspired and obeying the command innate in all of us: create! And she did, prolifically, create.

Now those paintings hang on my walls, as well as my sister’s walls. Her paintings often lift me, giving me the perspective I need. As I stare at her brushstrokes for the ten thousandth time, I am again reminded that life is like this: that the sometimes irreverent or painful or mundane or joyful details all work together to create the picture of your life. It gives me faith that there is coherence and beauty and order. They inspire me every day to heed my passion; that it’s not about perfection, or a career path, that it’s just about being me. Prolifically.

2 comments:

Mary Alice said...

Oh my gosh Jo. THAT was beautiful.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

She sounds amazing. I bet she's proud to have you emulate her.