Lost and Found: Moments in Time

You know how when you’re gone for a time, and possibly only for a week, and still you come home to the place you’ve known forever but then for a moment, that brief flash, you can’t immediately locate even the possessions that you use most often and that have been been kept in the same place for years (!!!)?

At first it’s a little disorienting and maybe fleetingly irritating, but in the end, isn’t it really pretty cool to know that only a few days of new input can shift your view, your rote, your same-old so quickly and so completely as to momentarily obliterate even what you know best?

It all comes back of course. But suppose we make the conscious decision not to rush back to what we know, but instead to embrace the shake-up and simply reinvent, quite spontaneously? I’m not talking drastic life changes, but where’s the harm in trying on a new hat now and then?

I’m quick to claim that I’m very much my own person — who I am is who I am, and re-invention seems — well, why? But the truth is that, like most of us, I’ve reinvented many, many times — often quite spontaneously and totally without prior consideration. Each time it was a seamless transition to a place I was meant to be.

I found a good hearing aid and started having conversations. With people. A lot. I was 49, and after 49 years of smiling and trying to fit into various boxes, I was suddenly and rather effortlessly a part of the world.  I walked past a trashed little space on a good street with a “for rent” sign and immediately knew it was waiting for me to reinvent as an art studio. I had no experience setting up or running an art studio, but it worked and I did it with joy for 13 years. On a whim. I just knew.

We all know. We don’t all act.

Marcel Proust (otherwise known as Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust) wrote a monumental seven volume novel over a period of 14 years with the distinction of having written the longest novel in the world. If you’re wondering, it’s À la Recherche du Temps Perdu (In Search of Lost Time), filled with a whopping 1,267,069 words and twice as robust as War and Peace. But maybe that’s to be expected in a man with six flowery names, the first of which is Valentin. Considered one of the most influential writers of the 20th century, I’m not about to question his judgement.

But I wonder … did he plan this abrupt life alteration, or did it just appear to him and he grabbed it?

I’m beginning to believe that the life we meticulously plan is rarely our true life. I’m beginning to believe that we don’t give ourselves enough credit — we don’t aspire past what we consider our limits; we don’t reach as far as our arms were meant to. We barely know ourselves.

So take the trip, physically or metaphorically but preferably alone, and see where it leads you. Pretty sure you’ll be surprised. And you’ll be home. (Maybe in Paris)



Patricia Helsing, Missed

Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Bean

Here’s to an artist whose wit and vision ran circles around my own, always nudging me to aim a little higher, Patricia Helsing. To see more of her work, look here, and nudge your own self a bit today.