Forgotten Art: Meadow – Kaitlin 2

A reply to: A letter from Kaitlin

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Dear Kaitlin,

Thanks so much for your letter! I can’t believe I couldn’t keep straight how many children you have and that you actually have four, plus the grandson! Three babies under five, plus a child and a teen! I can’t even comprehend!

You’re amazing. Seriously. Take a moment to think of what you are accomplishing. You’re an incredible person, Kaitlin!

I’d love to know more about your children and grandchild. Will you tell me more?

I’ve been thinking about identity after getting your letter. You wrote that you didn’t have a chance to become you before becoming a wife and mother. When I read your letters, I hear YOU so clearly! Somehow, along the way, you seem to have found your core identity, your sense of self. Maybe you found that through having to be strong for others.

Sometimes, it seems that we find ourselves through living our lives, with all their hard times and good times.

Up until now, I “found myself” in a different way, through daydreaming, thinking, and pondering. I’m not nearly as together as you seem to think I am! I’ve lived mostly in my thoughts and observations. I have a good understanding of folklore and of art and imagination, but I often feel I haven’t a clue about the nature of this world and the people in it.

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Now that I’m in a life where so much of my time is given to caring for another, I am finding myself through relating. Maybe this will teach me about people.

Jena seems oriented to relating. I have a feeling she will grow up people-smart. I don’t often see her playing, reading, or talking by herself, like I did when I was little. Instead, she likes to play near me. She loves to tell me stories. They usually involve a cat.

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Do you have much support, Kaitlin? I can’t imagine how taxing it is to have five kids that you’re responsible for! Your baby’s father sounds like a kind man. If you discover that you love him, then I wish you all the best!  And at the very least, it seems that Hailey will have a loving father in her life.

My brother and uncle, which is all the family I have left, have been amazing to me. My uncle is Jena’s favorite person, and he helps a lot with caring for her. My brother is really a big kid himself, so he hasn’t taken to the caretaker role like Uncle Jasper has, but he’s there for me, and I love him for that!

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Jena’s doing really well. We’ve gotten past our initial communication barrier, and with that, so many of her frustrations, fears, and sorrows have melted. I can genuinely say now that she is a happy kid! Knowing the hardship she came through and the tragedy and trauma surrounding her conception and birth, I can say that’s a miracle, and it makes me think that maybe, happiness always has a chance.

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Thanks so much for being my pen pal! Your letters help more than you can know, and I admire you so much!

Hope you find a way to sneak in a little fun and pleasure for yourself. You know what they say us mommies need: Extreme Self-Care! 🙂

Lots of love,

Meadow

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Forgotten Art: Meadow – Mr. Watergate 3

A reply to: A letter from Mr. Watergate

meadowwrite05

Dear Mr. Watergate. Chance.

I like that.

Dear Chance,

Do you feel that names are significant? I do. Because Meadow–it’s so who I am. Quiet. Outdoors. Green. Wait until you learn more about me and you will see how green I really am.

And because Chance. I feel like I’m taking a big chance writing this letter to you, just like you took a big chance in your last letter to me.

I just read it. I know I should really take a few days to process it. And I will. But I wanted to start my reply now.

Ok. I really will take my advice, set this letter aside, let my feelings settle a bit, and then write back.

See you in a few days… I mean. Not really. But in my mind’s eye when I pick up this letter again.


Hi, Chance. I’m back.

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I needed to take a few days to process everything you wrote. You are really brave.

My uncle likes to say that “Virtue is easy for the virtuous.” What he means is that if someone is naturally good and usually does the right thing, then, for them, being good is no big deal. It’s just them living their lives the way that’s easiest for them.

He says he has greatest respect for those who work for virtue. “That takes the real courage,” he says.

I think that’s why he likes my brother so much! LOL!

I kept thinking of this perspective while reading your letter. To face your mistakes, especially with your children whom you love so much, that takes real courage. And then to own up to those mistakes with me, someone you barely even know, that takes even more courage.

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I respect you so much.

It must feel hard when you see that the pain felt by you and your ex-wife was spread onto your children. Pain is strange that way. Sometimes I think that it’s like a virus–all pain wants to do is grow and spread, and it will use other people to do so.

I wish I knew a Vitamin C for pain! You know, something that will kick the pain out of our systems so that we don’t have to spread it, unknowingly, to others.

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It’s possible that for me, painting is my Vitamin C.

After my dad died, I was in a lot of pain. My mom had died a few years before, and I still wasn’t completely over it. I mean, I didn’t cry a lot, but my heart had this stitch in it that wouldn’t go away. Then when my dad died, I literally thought my heart was split. I even researched if a person can die of a broken heart. And you know what? They can.

My uncle Jasper saved me then. He was grieving, too, for it was his brother who had died–and way too early. But he pulled himself together and started spending a lot of time with me, and he taught me to paint.

That opened up life for me again, and now, I paint nearly every day. It helps my brain settle out and relax, and then I can see beauty again.

My little Jena comes from a painful background. I think I mentioned she was born in a refugee camp. It’s a really sad story.

But it feels like her life is mostly new, now. I’m sure that, at some deep level, the painful experiences she had in her conception, birth, and first year will be part of a coded memory deep within her soul, but I also feel hope that the healing brought to her by fate will fill her with goodness, so that the pain brings compassion, rather than that spreading virus of accidentally hurting others.

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Ugh! I didn’t mean to get so heavy! I guess I just hear in your words that you feel badly about what happened. I also hear such strength and love in your words when you write of your daughters, and even when you write of your ex-wife.

Forgiveness is amazing!

I was thinking about Milagros, too. I think you and her mom chose the right name!

I mean, look at what she’s awoken within you! That’s a miracle that only a baby can awaken.

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The other day, my uncle was over while Jena was playing. I’d been watching her and thinking about this wonder she experiences in everything. I realized that the experience of that wonder–that’s part of being human! That’s in all of us.

This made me reflect on how each of us was a toddler once. There are no “bad” toddlers. Each of us was once this tiny thing, full of wonder and joy, looking at the world with eyes that twinkle. This is before the virus of pain infected us, when we are all virtuous, and when being virtuous is our very nature.

My uncle started talking. He says crazy things sometimes, and–confession–sometimes I think he’s a cranky old nut. But then I realized that he, too, was once this innocent baby, looking at the world with eyes of wonder.

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I looked in as he was reading Jena a good-night story. At that moment, both of them looked so pure, so full of goodness. Do you think that this quality is inside of all us?

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I think that it is.

I think that the miracle is that when you see Milagros, this open-eyed quality of wonder and goodness wakes up in you. Maybe Milagros is your Vitamin C, and when you see her, the virus of pain is cured. She’s your immunization!

Because, look. Having her has woken up so much strength and so much goodness inside of you.

Thank you for sharing that goodness with me.

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I think it’s only fair that I share a confession of my own. Not only am I single now, but I have never had a boyfriend. I’ve never had a girlfriend, either. Aside from one crush on a boy in middle school, I’ve just never felt that way.

And I’ve never felt that anything was missing from my life, either. I mean, look: I’ve got family, especially now with Jena. I have a few close friends. I have pen pals! 🙂 And I have my art. I don’t have any missing pieces.

Still, when I read your letter, I felt funny inside. Tingly. That’s why I had to put your letter away for a few days before I could continue with my reply.

Anyway, thank you for being my pen pal and for letting me, too, experience miracles.

Love,

Meadow

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Whisper 2.24

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Dear me,

I feel I’ve never noticed how beautiful autumn is before! At home, it’s not so different from the other seasons–gray skies and rain. Here, we get enough rain that I don’t feel homesick, but we also get sun that sparkles the ground in gold light.

I’ve been watching the chipmunks and squirrels. We have so many now! More than were here in Mom’s day. They chase each other over the lawn.

One squirrel grabbed a twig and began doing gymnastics with it, and the more I laughed, the sillier he got!

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Since Shannon and I reached our sort of understanding, I’ve been feeling peaceful. Settled. All my doubts and questions have dissipated, and I can concentrate more on my studies.

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Funny thing is, I actually don’t need to concentrate on phys ed. It just comes naturally to me. So I’ve been reading the chapters in my art history book that I skipped last time. It’s fascinating stuff, and surprisingly, a lot of it seems to intersect with phys ed. For example, in art, the Fibonacci sequence forms the essence of Classical composition. And, in phys ed, we find this same sequence is repeated throughout the human body.

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It’s fascinating to me! How is it that something can be at the core of both of these disciplines? And would I find it in music, too? (Answer: yes.) But what about technology?

I asked one of my dorm-mates, who’s a tech major and one of the biggest geeks I know.

“I live for Fibonacci!” He said.”It’s for recursion. It gives a base case then allows a program to make repeated calls to a method to solve the problem.”

“Do you think there’s something mystical about it?” I asked him. I’m starting to think there is.

“Oh, no!” He replied. “It is no more mystical than the human mind! It is something we invent. Outside of us, and our ceaseless quest for patterns, it doesn’t exist.”

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I’m not so sure.  I asked Kenyon about it. He didn’t know what the Fibonacci was, but as I explained that it’s a sequence that shows exponential growth over time, he thought for a bit, and then he said that, in the creation of the universe, exponential growth was essential.

“That’s what allows creation to flower,” he said. “You need the exponential. So, yeah. I think it’s, like, integral.”

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I asked Melvin Moon.

“I use the Fibonacci all the time in computer graphics,” he said. He told me he even designs color palettes using the sequence.

“But what I’m getting at,” I asked him, “is whether it’s a human thing or more universal?”

“Does it matter?” he asked. “I mean, we’re part of the universe, right?”

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Melvin and I played a game of hopscotch on a hopscotch court designed with galactic patterns.

Melvin said, “Let’s play Fibonacci hopscotch.”

We hopped once, once, twice, three times, five times, eight.

“I’m out of court!” Melvin yelled.

“Keep going!” I encouraged him.

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It was the funnest game of hopscotch I’d ever played.

I watched the chipmunk run across the lawn. Of course! The Fibonacci sequence was first developed to predict the population growth of rabbits! It applies to little rodents, too. No wonder we have so many more here now than we did when Mom was here, when there was just one, then another one, then two, then three…

I looked at the pile of leaves that Kenyon had raked. The shape of the pile, the shape of each leaf, the gradation of color from one hue to the next, the various hues themselves. When I toss them, do they even fall in Fibonacci sequence?

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Miracles repeat–within us, without. Is it any wonder that we fall in love when the very universe is designed in mystery?

Keep wondering,

me

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