I grew up and still live in a house with no right angles. It’s just the reality of a now 130-year-old structure. Between plaster walls and settling foundations, you are best served just to eyeball distances and angles, or at least eyeball and measure - but trust your eyeball.
Which is why I stopped in my tracks yesterday and snapped this picture. A marble. Sitting still. On a smooth surface. In our house. Seriously, what the hell? Never seen it. Never conceived of it. Not in our house.
And, like anyone whose brain never cared much for - nor knew much about - right angles, I didn’t really care about how that marble was sitting there. The science. I wanted to know why.
I saw the marble as I was doing post-holiday house cleaning and, as is often the case when I am doing chores, I was deep in my head. I was deep in the sadness of goodbyes to family, shaking off the echoes of my sobbing child - so sad to see her cousin and great aunt and uncle leaving. Fighting my own tears. I was processing the realities of aging loved ones and the impotence of limited time across great distance. I was wrestling with the chronic unknowns of a sick family member now weeks in the hospital. I was wondering about my dying dog - how much longer? What’s our plan?
We all have our stories. Mine is not unique nor is it even particularly extreme. In fact, I acknowledge that sorrow such as mine is born of fortune and abundance. This messiness (the right angle-less-ness) is just part of the rich possibility of human existence.
And, most of the time, I am fine with this. I see it for what it is. I thrive in the fluidity, the uncertainty. It’s probably why I became an artist. It’s how I understand the world and it reinforces my beliefs in why I am on the planet for this relatively brief period of time.
But, there are also times when it is frustrating and even overwhelming, when the lack of right angles starts to feel like formlessness, when I feel the need for structural reinforcement. Stillness and stability from somewhere.
And yet, this marble. Shining. Reflective. Still. Fragile, but whole. Simple, but profound. Somehow insistently present, defying the potentiality - and probability - of its rolling, falling, getting lost.
It couldn’t just be sitting there on the dresser; that would be impossible in our house. It was somehow transcending the crookedness of its world - or perhaps just owning it.
At the same time, the marble also drew my eye to some old pictures of my family. And, given my unsettled spirit at that moment, I just spiraled further into what wasn’t, what was wrong, what was past, what was no more. Memory. Reality. Sadness.
I need a fucking right angle!
Except, I didn’t. I was missing the why of this odd, little marble.
There is no real truth to my memories or my longing or my emotional analyses. There is no truth in my fighting the dissonance and sorrow of here and now. These are tools to futilely seek and feign control over life itself. Struggle.
The truth is in this marble somewhere, this thing that drew me in, out of myself, reminding me of a deeper, more real - and yet more nebulous - truth. A truth of both passing time, and yet, a truth eternal. Of life and loss, of highs and lows, light and shadow. A truth where our connections with others, with the world, and within ourselves manifest as the ultimate why of our existence and the surest path to our transcendence.
A truth where right angles may or may not exist - it doesn’t matter.
This truth is love. Shining. Reflective. Still. Fragile, but whole. Simple, but profound. Somehow present amidst all of the temporary conditions that could start me rolling, falling, getting lost.