At the moment I am on board a train, racing toward Amsterdam–after having spent the day at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, in Brussels. I’ve been trying to be deep with myself lately. Though, at times it seems my connection to my emotion, is worn thin. I’m not sure if it has to do with my studies, or my daily life. Or if I’m just always mentally unavailable, for the task. In the past months I’ve gazed into countless paintings; in Haarlem, Amsterdam, Manhattan–and now Brussels. I've learned in the past year, that there is so much emotion that runs throughout a great painting. And that a great painting really is, a world within itself.
So perhaps what it is, is that I’m staring at too many a torrid whirlpool of emotion, rendered in oil paint, which could perhaps drain my own. There are so merry companies, portraits, gardens, and landscapes that have met my eyes. And this influx of paintings into my life will only continue throughout the next months, as I venture to London, Madrid, and Cincinnati, and Toledo, all in search of Frans Hals and his brushwork within his family portraits. Never did I ever think that the seventeenth century would become such an important period of time to me; growing up in middle-America, the century was entirely foreign to me then. Boston has some relics from that time period. But I grew up no where near Boston.
As I do grow up, I’m remembering just how wondrous and joyful my childhood was. My parents were nearly always there for me, supportive by not pushy, encouraging but not doting. That childhood, I’m happy for. It’s shaped me.
Today at the museum in Brussels I met with restorers and curators, to discuss a painting that’s been in their collection, for decades. The painting wasn’t on display, as it was instead was being restored: ’behind the scenes of the museum.’ I was able to have a peek behind their curtain; it was a glimpse into what my future may hold. Though most all works of fine art in museums are priceless, they also have a very real, present day monetary value. And such values are: whatever someone will pay for a work.
As I march toward a new age, later this year, I’m realizing my own self worth, beyond monetary value: it cannot be measured, precisely because no such value, would or ever could equate to the value of me. It’s taken me some time to realize my true worth, which, is once again, not something that can be measured. I knew that very well before I arrived in Amsterdam.
As I age, I become more aware of time, and my limited amount of it. Why I am here, alive, in this little body of mine, with its well proportioned legs, brown-blonde hair, and gentle smile that can, when needed, become fierce? Perhaps that last word is what I’m learning about myself the most these days: I am one fierce person. Rarely do I show it, and rarely do people expect it. But more importantly, I’m learning, people can feel my fierceness lurking below. I’ve noticed I intimidate people, though that’s unintentional. Such perceivers of me are only intimidated by their own lack of self-confidence. What others think of me, is none of my business.
My fierceness comes out only when needed. But as opposed to being fierce–which is also exhausting–I’m much more suited to balance, and harmony; two traits that used to suffuse throughout my life. I’m making it my goal to recover my lost balance, harmony, and contemplation; they amplify my self worth. That is, when I do value myself. A swath of negative energy in my sphere of consciousness has asserted itself over me recently. The last time this happened was just over two years ago. Then, unlike now, I reflected upon the experience. Indeed I learned much from it, about how I functioned, in the world, then. This time, I know I function fabulously.
The values governing my life have shifted in the past two years. I hold my head higher. And I appreciate the bond of family, after having estranged myself from them upon my move here; I’m re-braiding myself back into their lives, after being out of their's, for so long. I find myself wanting to connect with others these days, rather than being solo. Concurrently, as I become more comfortable with the Dutch language, I become closer to my new family, the one I’ve braided myself into here; the family I’ve gained since marrying my husband. My values can’t be measured, with numbers. And the most important components in my life–smiles, hugs, laughs–don’t ever ask to be measured; why would they? How does one measure a smile or laugh?