Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Love Letter to My Life #24: doing what I don't want to do

Remembrance of Time Past
by Joyce Wycoff 

(We know the day we were born, but most of us do not know the day we will die. This love letter to my life is written on the day I've designated as my death day, the 17th of every month, and reminds me to be grateful for my incredible life.) 
Eight years ago I did something I had no interest in doing.

A friend and I were spending a few days in San Francisco. She is something of a fashionista and wanted to see the Gaultier show at the DeYoung. I expected to spend an hour or so being bored in the service of friendship. I did not expect to be completely overwhelmed by the sensational beauty and creativity of both Gaultier’s work and the show itself.

I didn’t expect to take more than 500 photos or make at least half a dozen works of art from those photos, one of which has landed in my permanent collection and was recently invited into an online show (shown above).

From Gaultier show
In an interview, Gaultier talked about his resistance to putting 35 years of his work on view: "A museum can seem dead, like a funeral. I don't feel dead yet. I wanted something to be very, very alive.” 

His show was definitely alive. I expected to walk through rooms of pretty, but odd, dresses. Instead I was surrounded by life-sized mannequins wearing outsized, and often outrageous, costumes. Even Gaultier himself was there telling us about his life and his art. 

"He talks. He blinks. He laughs. Standing against a panel of blue light with an army of similarly dressed and animated figures, he invites people into a fashion display unlike any other. From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk feels like a party. It's loud and bustling, full of movement and life.” reported one review.

The show blasted an opening in my conception of art and delivered a transformative lesson: insights come from unexpected places … places where we’ve never been before, either physically, mentally, spiritually or emotionally. Doing something I didn’t particularly want to do expanded me, changed the way I look at the world and my definition of art.

Today, I’m reflecting on a decision I made a year ago: to leave Mexico, something I didn’t expect to do and am still sorting out the whys of. I miss Mexico in so many ways, but I have also come to love this harsh, beautiful land and this quirky “biggest, little city in the world.” 

Leaving Mexico changed my lifescape and opened up opportunities for new experiences and insights. One of the challenges of this stage of life is that we’ve seen so much, done so much, that few experiences result in new insights. We don’t have to change countries to see the world in new ways; however, deliberately doing things outside our comfort zones is a path to new ways of thinking and understanding ourselves and the world. This doesn’t have to be as dramatic as sky-diving or becoming a monk. Sometimes startling insights come from a book, a museum, a new friendship. It seems like the key is that it is a place or experience  where you’ve never been or thought you even wanted to be.

After seriously studying Spanish in Mexico, I gave it up when I left. I had no intention of going back to it … what would be the point now that I wasn’t in a Spanish-speaking country? 
Funny, how life goes. As I ventured out into Reno, I realized I was hearing Spanish everywhere. It called to me. I resisted. 
Then came COVID-19 and I furiously followed its twisting path for months, writing and making art about it, creating a “zine.” I didn’t even know what that was until after it was finished. 
As I looked around, I realized that my new neighborhood was full of Spanish speakers. I began to think once more about studying Spanish. And, then I received an email reminding me that I had signed up for a 90-day language challenge while I was still in Mexico. When I left Mexico, they agreed to put my registration on hold and I forgot about it. Now they were inviting me to participate in the next one. I dithered and then said no. 

A few weeks went by and the thought of Spanish still hovered in the background. Then, my daughter told me that the family trip to Costa Rica had been rescheduled to 2021 … and, did I want to go? It was all planned and she sent me the itinerary, prepared by the Spanish-speaking guide. Suddenly, I was saying “well, maybe” … not only to the trip, but to getting back to Spanish. I had a year and a half … enough time to make serious progress with this language that had stymied me for years. I began to pull out my old Spanish materials and tip toe back into the waters of learning a language.

One day, I sent an email to the 90-day challenge folks asking when the next program would start, thinking It would be at least a few months from now. Hah! The Universe has its own ways. The answer came back that it would start in a week and there was room for me, but I had to say “yes” in 3 days … and make an application video (something I definitely didn’t want to do.)

But, here I am in week 2 of what will be a 13+ week journey. COVID-19 and the completion of Corona Wisdom, cleared my calendar and I have taken a deep dive into Spanish. I didn’t think I wanted to do this again. For me, Spanish is a long trail of failure tracing back decades. However, I think I have the right resources now … I spent a lot of time learning about my own learning processes and there are amazing materials available these days. 

I already see progress and I know this is going to be life altering in ways I don’t yet understand. I didn’t want to do this again and that’s probably a great indicator that it holds unknown possibilities. Stay tuned. 

PS ... If anyone is interested in materials for learning Spanish ... especially intermediate level materials ... I'm putting a ton of new stuff onto the blog I created while I was in Mexico ... Aventura Español, learning Spanish while falling in love with Mexico. (It may need a new title now.)

More information:

No comments:

Post a Comment