In preparation for a collage series I am going to be facilitating with young people during Lent at a local church, I am taking myself through the process, learning which instructions might work and which may need some tweaking. That way, when I work with them during Lent, I’ll hopefully have better ideas on how to approach each week’s meditation. And it’s good for me, too.
Week One focused on color. Week two (above) is about the ideal day. I have some-odd thousands of magazine pictures (I am so thankful for those who have donated magazines – you are fabulously generous and I could not do my work without you!!) which, when my brain is shot for the day and it’s still during work hours, I cut more. Someday maybe I’ll even get through all the boxes and bags and boxes and bags. Friday evening I tackled one bag in particular that weighed a ton and had been sitting on the floor of the bedroom for …over a year? My husband hopes that I will get to those boxes in the garage at some point (so do I. I’d hate to lose all those mags to dust/rodents/grease). Sidebar: when you flip through the pages and issues of one particular magazine covering a span of 1992 through 2007, you really notice the patterns and trends in advertising, focus, language, photography, target demographic, etc. Interestingly, I found an advert for “Remains of the Day” with very youthful photos of Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson and a rather hunky ad of Harrison Ford advocating for reading at the public library. But I digress…
What I discovered with the ideal day collage is that if I were to think about how I’d spend my ideal day and then look for images to support it, I would be hunting, hunting, hunting. Blech. So I decided to think about my ideal day for a few minutes in meditation, and then choose images that jumped out of the pack, the whole shoeboxes (which is no mean feat; I’ve got four shoeboxes full). Then I went through that stack and filtered out the ones that didn’t jump as high as the others. Then I set to actually putting the pieces in place, choosing only a very few of the original pulled stack.
This process never ceases to amaze me. The first collage (the one on the left) is again a very not-surprising view of an ideal day for me: I’m a bit goofy and cartoonish, so that green thing fits me well. Paper flowers and hot air balloons are dreamy and fun. Bananas with strawberries and whipped cream? Yes, please! The piece that intrigued me the most was the hour glass. I had noticed several watches and clocks, but I resonated loudest with the hourglass AND I didn’t want to put it down in a way that would run the sand. In an ideal day, I want a sense of timelessness: one in which I don’t have anywhere to be at any particular time. I love how the glass sits on the banana stick – it could twirl around like one of those propeller hats (I love the silliness of that image too!). Even that weird orb thing is neither sun nor moon – I cannot tell the time of day by that. Ah, to have a day when time is meaningless and light-hearted fun is the order of the day. Sounds like Sabbath.
The second collage (on the right) was the surprise and totally unexpected. Yes, I like to travel to exotic places, but I cannot say that travel is an ideal day for me because I am generally a homebody. I do love to read (always have, even before Harrison Ford, lol) and I travel a lot through reading. But I felt a fear that my ideal day would come off as some weird exoticism or exploitation of “exotic peoples” – that would be awful. So where was my heart going with this?
As far as process, despite all the choices I had laid out in front of me, I kept coming back to the boy in the boat and the open archway. There is an electric neuro-tissue under the lizard that took up the bottom corner – which I had thought might meant that I am invigorated by learning about new places and new people. But I couldn’t get anything to look right at the top until I stumbled upon the woman. Her gaze is so intense. It is seductive, but non-threatening. As a model (and I know which magazine it came from and what the ad was for so part of me cringes to say that – although that’s why ads work, right? – note: it’s the big reason why I don’t have people cut their own pictures from the whole magazine: it’s too easy to get caught up in reading the articles or only seeing the advert and associating the image with something else) I’m fairly sure she is being exploited in the usual way of the fashion industry. Perhaps that’s why I felt so awful about having her as a possible guide for my trip in the boat with the boy to explore the exotic. I can’t conscience that. Perhaps that’s way I added the lizard. With all the black and copper coloring, I needed the green to balance it out somehow. Once I did that, the blue followed. Then the pin, then the grass. Is it too busy now? Are there obstacles now? Is there more danger now? Perhaps so. But for whom?
In the end, I wonder if my ideal day doesn’t somehow get marred by this thing, this fear: “you can’t do that.” And then I place all kinds of obstacles of self-sabotage in my own way because I don’t think I should do that. Or can do that. Or ought to do that. Ouch. All those things in the foreground (wonderful though they may be) clutter up my ability to do what is in the distance: the ideal vision as it began; and then that ideal day looks further and further away, less and less possible. What else am I doing in my life that self-sabotages my ability to get there or that pushes off into the distance that which I said I wanted to do? Lots, apparently.
This seems to be a recurring theme for me and one whose onion-like layers I’ve been peeling for some time. Well, keep going. Perhaps the collage of jollity and timelessness can teach the collage of unanswered dreams and self-sabotage a few things – and vice versa.