Yet, exploring the magic of existence isn’t all butterflies and glistening ocean waves.
To my dearest Doodle Soupster,
My artwork above is titled, “Hanging by a thread, I survived. Now, I live.” It’s a part of my new collection, The Magic of Existence …
What does it mean to exist? What is the meaning of life? We create meaning. And at the same time, there is a vast, unlimited expanse of what we cannot see, grasp, quantify, or describe.
In this series of work, I seek synthesis for this duality. We don’t have to know in order to find meaning, purpose, or joy in our existence. And we can choose to remain open to what’s unknown. Often, it’s that openness that leaves enough space for magic to happen, to feel touched by something that evades description.
Yet, exploring the magic of existence isn’t all butterflies and glistening ocean waves. It's not all light.
There is magic in moving through the darkness. And when I say there’s beauty in struggle, I don’t mean that it always feels beautiful.
I cried today. I could say it in a more poetic way, but I don’t want to. There’s something about poetry, about art, about music that makes pain feel meaningful, beautiful. And sometimes, I feel an urge to push against that too. A little voice sputters under the breath, “How dare you romanticize my agony!”
And still, I know it is also true that I don’t need to romanticize a thing to state affirmatively, “Yes, there is magic here. There is magic in being alive.” That’s because I see it. I feel it. I notice it.
And still, there’s a part of me that feels angry about this. Why beauty and suffering? Why not just beauty? Why magic and cruelty? Why not just magic?
I can’t help but see how interconnected these are. Endless possibility extends in all directions, not just the ones I’d prefer. And what depth can exist without shadow, without layers, without dimension, without contrast, without variety, without darkness?
What is this life without rain? Without thunder? Without lightning? Without night? Without mortality? Without risk? Without loss?
And still, I cry. And I pray to God, why? Why this agony? Why remind me of these memories? Why can’t I just forget? Why can’t I just forget?
Yet, when I used to leaf through my mind only to find obscured pages, words I could not make out, stories I wasn’t ready to read … I was aware that something important was missing. Without the memories, I could not be whole, I could not know myself, I could not identify myself.
And still, I ask God, why the flashbacks? Why must I walk through the darkness, again? Why must I remember?
And I notice the wind rattling leaves on a tree. I am lulled into something peaceful. Something still and steady in the rapid movements.
Why is it that to soothe, we rock back and forth? Pendulums. The back and forth of ocean tides. Of playground swings. There’s something natural about the back and forth. Not good or bad per se. Just natural. And this naturalness is re-assuring somehow.
Light into dark. Sun and moon. Day into night. Night into day again. Day into night again. Movement then stillness. Stillness within movement. Movement within stillness. Exhilaration then rest. Creation and destruction. Beauty and struggle. Pain and relief. And pain again. And relief again. Survival and something beyond survival. Doubt and re-commit and doubt again and leap of faith and doubt again and re-commit.
What is there to make of duality other than it’s what is? What’s in the middle?
At the core of everything, I believe there is something magical. Because no matter how much pain I endure, I still live. And no matter what, I return to calling this existence a gift.
Maybe, I’d just rather see it this way. Maybe, it’s because as Mary Oliver writes, “Joy is not made to be a crumb.” I don’t know. All I know is I’ve cycled through many, many waves of grief. All I know is I’ve approached death many times and turned around. All I know is I thought I’d fall apart there, hanging by a thread, and instead, I held onto that thread and refused to let go. All that pain and I still I wanted to know what life could be. No matter what happened, something inside continued to ask, What else is there? Continued to whisper, I want to see. I want to get closer to that magic. I know it’s there and I want more. Years of not knowing how to go on, how I could go on, and yet I savored my crumbs of joy. Waiting. Wishing. Hanging on and on and on. Doubting I’d reach solid ground. Doubting I’d ever rest on something soft and stable. Doubting I’d arrive. Arriving anyway.
Nicole Sylvia Javorsky