Friday, February 20, 2009

Fury and Joy

Man, what a week, for apparently a lot of us! I have talked to let's, two, three, four, five, SIX friends who, for whatever reasons, are currently enraged about life as they know it. And I have to say that I belonged in that boat for a few scattered hours in the course of this week, too. It's an interesting and rare experience, this fury at the lack or excess of knowledge, money, love, opportunity, decisions, or patience. I told one of them I felt a little cheated by Primary teachers for not warning us how hard adult life is. Stupid dreams. But I wised up in my conversation with another. "Focusing on what you don't have never makes you happy, so you have to choose to look for adventure and beauty in the life God gives you. You'll be ok wherever you go."

Often whenever I read about people who accomplished amazing things against impossible odds it makes me get down on myself; have you ever had that experience? Joseph Hirshhorn, the original and most extensive patron after whom my museum is named, was the twelfth of thirteen children born to dirt-poor Latvian immigrants in the United States. He started work on Wall Street at age thirteen, delivering newspapers, and by the time he was 28 he had formed his own investment group, furthering his wealth into astronomical amounts with a well-timed and ingenious investment in uranium mines in Canada (this being in the middle of the cold war). 28 is 4 and a half years away for me. I have a BA and half an internship to show for myself, hmm :)

It makes me feel better, however, when I look back to the example of the Savior instead of any other. Jesus Christ made his every choice perfectly, and did so with the hope in the back of his mind that his choices, his words, and ultimately his sacrifice would impel all others, every precious person who he helped create, to follow his spotless, sweet example. He did so without money or schooling, but with the help of friends, disciples, and a very holy family. This week, in the middle of considering-- and at some points, raging about-- the adventures of my year #23, I thought about his counsel where he asks me simply, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

He's pretty neat.

So this week I'm dedicating my post to my enraged friends. To those that are steadfastly crawling towards the semi-visible future they will not abandon. To those who must feebly conjure up a new vision of life, as their current dreams and plans have lead them to the foot of yet another daunting mountain or maybe even a dead end. To my friends who are pounding the pavement, up a creek, banging their head, pushing a boulder up a hill, or lost at sea. You know what the real trick of it all is? I don't think life ever gets perfect! This is as good as it gets!!! Trials and blessings are really two sides of the same coin, which God lent us in the hopes that we will spend it wisely. And with the promise that our Savior will make up the difference when and if we default (oh if only the American banking industry had such a competent benefactor...)

A year or so ago, I had the idea to email the following picture to my little sister, Wee, sans explanation, during a time when she was raging over something or other (methinks it was a boy, or two, that was irking her):

It's lovely, isn't it? I was just going to end the post there, but the art historian in me has gotten a lot more verbose over the last year, so I can't leave it, or you, just hanging. This was painted in 1911, by Franz Marc, roughly contemporary to but I can't remember if he actually was acquainted with Henri Matisse, whose bright green portrait of his wife I showed you last week, down below. They had a similar idea going on in their brains when they painted: use colors less to show reality, more to show emotion. All I get from his colors in The Yellow Cow is joy. Pure, sweet, effulgent JOY! which is why I sent it to Marie (and I think she got the message).

I first came across this image when I was learning how to analyze artworks formally, meaning through the separate forms within a work: line, color, balance, brushstroke energy, etc. I learned that The Yellow Cow is not only arranged so that its colors emulate happiness, but EVERY formal quality of the work is positioned to do so! The brushstroke energy is not paintstakingly realistic, but vibrant, blocky, and slightly childlike (purposefully done, of course, that's why he's called a modern master). The balance of the canvas is irreverent and patterned, like little zigzags. Your eye doesn't come to rest anywhere on the canvas like it would with, say, a peacefully-balanced still life.

Thanks to The Yellow Cow I first conecptualized how an artist could make me look and feel a certain way through his or her artwork. I feel happy looking at The Yellow Cow first because of its colors, but then-- more importantly-- because of the flowing, jaunty curve of the cow's body from tail tip to nose. It's literally a roller coaster for your eyes. Mmm. Delightful. And that big, striking curve is superimposed over energetic, bounding little shapes and lines: pointed mountains, stoid black tree trunks, and a curious white egg thing fitted snugly beneath the cow's leaping hindquarters, which adds an era of danger and fragility to it. PS did you notice the two or three boring cows behind his back feet? Hee hee I want to know why they're not jumping. I think it's because they know they're boring brown, not yellow and violet. And maybe because they're hungry.


Jayci said...

that cow must be the only one of the heard from California. :) I'm teasing. At first glance, the picture felt frustrated, like a bucking horse or something. But the way you explained it and made me look harder at the colors and brush strokes and basic free-emotion.... I can say it makes me happy now. Thanks. :) When do you find out about your test results?? I'm assuming it's not instantaneous like the testing center, huh. rats.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lindsey,
What a great blog, I am so glad that you do this each week. It gives me a wonderful taste of you and what is going on. We are having Sunday Dinner tonight and I am way missing you. Hope that all is going great. Thanks for your comment on the Savior; it made me cry, you have a wonderful perspective and a sweet testimony. I sure love you and we all miss you. Aunt Betty

Eric said...

As one who's in and out of the fury boat all the time, I really appreciated the message of the yellow cow, Brother Hirshhorn, Art Historian Lindsey and especially the ultimate solution, which is the yoke and rest of the Savior. I really enjoyed the dedication and the citation of the coin's two sides and the encouragement to spend it wisely and then recieve the grace of Christ. The yellow cow is truely wonderful, however I think it is emoting a more nuanced feeling than "pure sweet effulgent Joy." Rather, my empression is, like your friends and your encouragement to us, the cow is expressing a "purposeful joy" as she is living her dreams, daunting the mountain, pushing the boulder, and enjoying her twin sided trial/blessing coin.

Keep the jewels coming. Thank you for them.

Love, Ld

Olsen Family said...

Always...enlightening to read your writings. I agree with cow the first thing I thought was he had finally accomplished a big project or found out something fantastic and jumped for joy!! I just love JOY!!

MOM said...

Your comment "this is as good as it gets" reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by President Hinckley about how life is like an old railway ride (of course I couldn't find it!); but, there are bends and turns, splinters, jolts, etc. with an occasional beautiful vista and sudden bursts of speed. (I know I'm butchering this!) The key is to be grateful for the ride. And I know you're doing just that, even though you can't always see what's around the corner.

Thanks for sharing some "occasional beautiful vistas" with us each week! You've always made my train ride very fun. :)

Judy Anne said...

Pres. Monson said to "Find joy in the Journey" and your thoughts have reminded me of this. I too sometimes feel like I am back-pedaling and climbing mountains that I thought I had already mastered. If you look closely at the yellow cow, the cow has a peaceful look on his face. This reminds me of the Saviour. "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you." This is MY find the peace no matter what.
I love you and love your words of wisdom. Someone who thinks you are awe-inspiring.

Jen said...

What a thought provoking post! I love reading about your thoughts and adventures. I'm so glad you started a blog. And...I have an announcement (drum roll please)... I'm pregnant!!! Wahoo! 14 weeks along today, so I'm finally in the 2nd trimester. Thanks goodness! Anyways, just thought I'd share. I love ya!