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Saturday, February 23, 2013

A Journey of Memories

I was in an empty apartment corridor looking through the contents of the back of the closet. My mother was absent and my residence was quiet. Within the closet resided magazines, notebooks, elementary school homework and projects, and a good deal of drawings. I was surrounded by rare solitude.

        I snatched "Call of the Wild" from a pile of a dozen notebooks, a story I wrote many summers ago. I had redesigned the mottled green and white cover by gluing on a frosty blue paper, then covered it with photos cut out from wildlife magazines. I had made sure to acquire thumbnails of wolves, polar bears, and lions, the characters of the hopeful book. It was finished off with stripes of messy marker. Overall the cover looked pleasant, but the inside was where my talent shone. On the other side of the notebook cover I had concocted a beautiful collage of other nature clippings. Instead of a displayed schedule, there were birds among brilliant flowers, deer and dragonflies.

Preceding page one were the remnants of twenty or so ripped out papers, a sign of my dissatisfaction of the difficulties of writing. It was dissapointing that I never had the drive to finish the book, no matter how childish. It ended midsentence with only four short chapters and just 17 and a half pages.

        I leaned into my chair expectantly to read. My story was a cliché because it resembled a book series that I was obsessed with at the time: Warriors by Erin Hunter. I had made grammar mistakes.  Some words and ideas were taken from the books as well, such as "loner". There were even problems with tense. After several more years of practice, I have noted the importance of originality and now have the ability to whip the disheveled plot into shape. Despite all these blunders, there were glimpses of my writing potential. I had made lovely descriptions of setting and genuine concepts. I even made puns work for the story.    

Next I dug out my sparse childhood drawings hidden by a mass of simple mathematics handbooks. I was surprised by a work of winter houses, pines and snowmen created in second grade. There were Mother's Day cards encompassing simple messages of love. They had a silly simplicity that made me smile, and were scrawled onto loose-leaf and decorated with crayon.

I also discovered an abstract print of textures and moving colors. Admiring the creation, it reminded me of the sea with its vibrant coral and watercolor waves. I assumed that a teacher had given it to me as a sample of that day's task, and I had forgotten to return it. However, I turned the painting over to see my faded scrawled name, obviously done at an early age. I had made it after all. I glowed with pride.

Spilling out of several binders was an enormous pile of my recent artwork, done in the summer of 2012 at the library. Though there might be a hundred drawings in there, I was perhaps proud with only twenty or so. Quality is more important than quantity. Some of the drawings were quite bad and yet I kept them as proof of my progress. I suddenly realized that is ridiculous, because I have marvelous art just from elementary school. They are not mementos of my beginnings but rather examples of my failures. Perhaps I should select only my best and throw everything else away.

        Even as I thought about this I knew I couldn’t do such a thing. Every piece of paper contained some brilliant memory of my time from the library, the few happiest months of my life. Some creations were impressive but most were crummy, unsure of my talent. They were done with no passion, just pencil and computer paper. Deep down in my heart I knew I hated them.

        I was distracted by a painting of the ocean, done in sixth grade. Its vibrancy of paint attracted my eye. In my opinion, it is the greatest realistic painting I have ever done, and am currently unable to surpass. I used different shades of professional watercolor onto cardboard, which acted as a substitute for a canvas.

        The horde of my handiwork still went on. There was an entire bag of plain origami creatures, snowflakes, a heap of images kept for future collages, and all my stories from kindergarten. Again, is it best to keep everything or salvage the best? At the mention of destroying my productions I cringed. I had already went through this same agony of getting rid of all my toys and stuffed animals. It felt as if I was throwing out a piece of myself. Even to this day my mother informs me that I have too many plush bunnies and bears on my bookshelves.

        I had mounds of inspiring magazine pages with drawing and story material, or so I said to myself. Maybe they just had no more purpose than to look pretty? After all, making original productions is more important than clinging to another's copyrighted work. I could keep the truly necessary pages but no more than that.

        I uncovered the rest of my childhood writing which, I must admit, was rather lousy. I kept them purely for my amusement. I do not feel guilty about hording them since I never acquired much from the childhood to begin with. As for present literature pieces, I keep most of my writing stored online on a blog. An idea hit me: What if I create a new blog entirely devoted to showcasing my talents? I could take photos of my favorite drawings, type up my old tales, and dispose of whatever didn't make the cut.

        This was a great idea. Pencil strokes fade with age and drawings yellow and rip. Already my construction paper projects had faded to nothing. Storage by electronic means was pretty much immortal. By pressuring myself to display only the best, I would be unconsciously weeding my garden of plenty.

While I was cleaning I had the radio on. A few songs in the background matched my little mental journey. They are:

“I Knew You Were Trouble” by Taylor Swift

        Even though the message of the song didn't quite match my odyssey, the actual music did. Some uplifting sections fit when I made a connection with a forgotton work. Taylor also mentioned the past in her song, which was the point of my voyage.

        I think--I think when it's all over,
It just comes back in flashes, you know?
It's like a kaleidoscope of memories.”

“Don’t You Worry Child” by Swedish House Mafia

            This song by the Swedish House Mafia deals with nostalgia. The tempo is fast enough to match the rhythm of the shuffling of papers, but slow enough to capture some of the solitude that I experienced. The lyrics contain some of the regret that comes from recalling memories.

        Those days are gone, now the memories are on the wall
I still hear the sounds from the places where I was born”

“Glad You Came” by The Wanted

This song deals with the intensity of the present and the gratitude when something manages to occur against all odds. This odyssey, too, may have never happened. The papers could have sat in the closet for a few more months. Though this may have been a venture into my past, it was also tied in with thoughts of the present.

        And all that counts
Is here and now
My universe will never be the same”


“Umbrella” by Rihanna

“Somebody That I Used to Know” by Gotye

"Halo" by Beyonce'

“Cinema” by Gary Go

“Safe & Sound” by Taylor Swift and The Civil Wars

        By cleaning out my closet I have learned that I am extremely nostalgic. I favor memories over function and horde things for the sheer pleasure of it. I am often impulsed to store unnessesary items just so I can reflect back on them, something I do not need to do.

        By glancing at my collected childhood works I learned that I have possessed a magnitude of artistic talent since a small age. Previous to this journey I had assumed that it only came about now. I also noticed that some themes of artwork have indeed improved with the years, due to practice. Having talent is important but honing it also is.

        Diligence is something required as well to make anything work, a quality that I have more than ever. While I was unable to finish "Call of the Wild" or create many more drawings or stories during my childhood, I have become accustomed to producing large amounts of visionary items. In the last two years I have developed more artistic articles than in my entire life combined.

        Teachers are the best instructors, and their petty exercises create a a capable master of the arts. I have always enjoyed art class but despised constraining tasks every day. I would constantly listen to,  "Draw a tree with a thin black sharpie marker onto purple paper, then dab globs of white paint." Now that I have freedom to do whatever I want, I don't know what I should do. Teachers provide easy ideas. By accomplishing their excersises one also practices, an important concept as stated before.

        Life is about creating but also about acknowledging one's past. I was brave enough to let my past go. It is not necessary to keep everything but only the most beautiful things. Former times should not engulf the present. There should be a delicate balance between the occured and the still occuring.

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