Tuesday, September 13, 2016

2. Searching for & returning to your eternal questions.

Hamburg, New York. The 1980’s.

My name is Kāli Quinn. I am six. My teaher is Mrs. Carberry. My favorite animals are dafens and wolfs. My favorit color is people.

I flip through a folder that had been given to me when I finished high school. It includes writing that I had done from first grade through twelfth, ages five through eighteen. The pages move from big messy penciled letters with misspelled words amidst dotted lines to penned cursive stories to fully typed essays. There are three pieces of writing per year. Each one gives me a quick glimpse into what I cared about and how exactly I articulated it at the time:

Age 5: When I grow up I will be a vetnareaen. Do you know why? Because I like aminals. I want to be a gimist. Too. I want to be a artist too. I want to be a teacher.

Age 7: I did plays for babysitters and wrote songs for my cats. I wrote stories about dragons going to doctors because no one believed in them and a lost baby fox that was cared for by a young boy.

Age 8: I compared waiting for test results to waiting for the dentist when you know you have a cavity.

Age 9: We worked out in gym, made beautiful art in art, sang up a storm in music, and went places in books in library. One of my favorite memories I have about fifth grade is our senior volunteer. We made beanbags, leaf name tags, potato heads, coasters, and many more decorations.

Age 10: If I had one gift to give, I would give it to the world...

It wouldn’t be big. It would be small.
It would be a gift to all.
To some it wouldn’t be much.
It’s something you can’t hold or touch.

It starts with everyone being nice to everyone.
And ends with love in a ton.
It doesn’t cost anything.
And to some it might sting.

This gift would end all wars
But it can’t be bought in just any old store.
Bought with love, care and light,
My gift would be peace and to all a good night.

Age 11: In a paper about Ukraine and where my family had come from, I concluded how the place where people live affects who they are.

Ages 12-17: Now I’m pleased to introduce you to a survivor who struggled to grasp her life during a time of revolution in France. I wrote stories and book reports that all focused on the arc of someone moving from extreme hardship and isolation to amazing accomplishments.

Age 18: Before graduating, I wrote an essay about the universal language of music... Music is a syntactic system in itself without words. It can travel across nations, faiths, and decades. As an integral part of each human being’s life, music nourishes by teaching, inspires through faith, and motivates as a community tool.

And I sit back in wonder and amazement. Oh right… I have always been this me. I have always loved animals, especially dolphins and wolves. My favorite color is purple (or people!). I’ve always been fascinated by hearing other people’s stories, especially about where they are from. I have always loved spending time in the presence of older folks. I have always believed in the transcendent power of connecting art and music.

In all I do, I continue to spiral round the same questions. These questions are the essence of who I am, what I care about, and what I strive for. With compassion and creativity as my guides, these are the questions I will continue to ask for the rest of my life:

How do we balance love, work, and play throughout our lifetimes?

How do we move on and what and who do we take with us?

How do we make peace with whatever happens along the way?

These questions are eternal. In searching for answers to them, I only continue to find more questions, more interests, more intrigue. These aren’t questions that have answers. If I become afraid that these questions don’t have answers or if I try too hard to make sense of these questions or figure them out, I will shut down, but if instead, I find a way to return to these questions with a sense of play and openness, they fuel my creativity. Making stuff allows me to compassionately explore these questions with my hands, heart, and mind. I then collage together my discoveries in the form of plays and poems and music and share these with others. In this exchange, I create a container for the questions to live and reverberate without needing answers. I elicit the audience’s responses, interpretations, and connections, ready to listen to their perspective and encourage them to play along.

***

What are the questions you find yourself returning to throughout space and time?

What have you found to guide you through your eternal questions?

How do these questions and qualities connect to your current interests, projects, and relationships?