It is always when you’re about to leave a place that it starts to seem the most lovely, and everything you’ve taken for granted suddenly squeezes your heart so you know what you’re about to lose.
I’ve never felt like Iowa is quite where I belong, although I can’t say that is objectively true so much as that I have a tendency to cast myself as an outsider in my own life. I’ve been trying to own up to that habit. At some point, we all have to take responsibility for ourselves. Whatever has happened to us and whatever we think or feel, we have the choice of how to respond to it.
Everyone who gets to adulthood is a bit frayed in spots, I think, a little cracked around the edges, or deeper still. Perhaps from real tragedy or simply careless words spoken to us as children that burnt our fragile skin, and the scars became the narrative we walked our whole life through.
“What am I in the eyes of most people – a nonentity, an eccentric, or an unpleasant person – somebody who has no position in society and never will have, in short, the lowest of the low.
All right, then – even if that were absolutely true, then I should one day like to show by my work what such an eccentric, such a nobody, has in his heart.
That is my ambition, based less on resentment than on love, in spite of everything, based more on a feeling of serenity than on passion.”
Though I am often in the depths of misery, there is still calmness, pure harmony and music inside me. I see paintings or drawings in the poorest cottages, in the dirtiest corners. And my mind is driven toward these things with an irresistible momentum.” (Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh, 21 July 1882).
The more I read about Van Gogh, the more I find in him a kindred soul. Today, I also find in him a challenge to keep seeking, keep searching; despite many rejections throughout his life, Van Gogh did not reject himself, but sought constantly after beauty in the world and in his own soul.
This is the way God loves you,
in the quiet of blue mountains
that have only to stand tall to speak,
and this is the way God loves you,
in red clay earth staining rivers across palms,
blood-splashed dirt drunk on men
who fought for freedom and men they kept as slaves;
from this unholy ground springs flowers,
pressing blue petal-lips to sky.
You are born with tears in your eyes
and screams in your throat;
air in your lungs the first time is a gasp of cold—
but then you are wrapped in blankets, held in arms,
called precious for the mere fact that
You are here.
You’ve opened your eyes.
For a few years you live with the belief
that people will come when you cry
to fix everything that is, or ever could be wrong
But one day they just stop coming.
One day what’s wrong can’t be fixed.