Today I was remembering how before, I used to have 8 sketchbooks on the go at any given time. I was a highly effective and accomplishing person then, and used to make meticulous notes about my day, sketches, ideas and lists.
I have been feeling the need to break out of the two sketchbooks I have on the go right now. I want something that I can just scribble in every day just for the sake of it. My first thought was to go and buy one but then I began wondering where the others I used to use were. Next thing you know I'm in my storage room and there is one box that I'm able to open on the floor.
Viola! A brand new never touched, black covered sketch book is in my hands. I faintly remembered purchasing it at some point of my post cancer medicated stupor. But next I saw the rest. The books I used to carry around with me and have in all different places in my house and van. My ideas ran so continuously that 8 notebooks could barely contain them.
So I sat on the floor crammed between the box and the wall at my back. I pulled out a book and started rediscovering my thoughts and activities in the days before cancer.
There were inspiring quotes, sketches of ideas I had accomplished and had planned for the future. There were drawings of the jewellery I used to design, furniture that I used to refinish and thumbnail sketches that became many many projects that I completed.
"The trouble with life in the fast lane is you get to the other end in an awful hurry -John Jensen", "Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there -Will Rogers", "Sanity is madness put to good uses -George Santayana". My books are teaming with quotes that are all about work and that's exactly where I was was, working like an alcoholic drinks.
"Great works are performed, not by strength but perseverance -Samual Jackson"
I took care of my 3 kids, earned the highest grades in my university classes, worked a job, all of which took up my entire day, every day. I also made time for friends and sat on my patio in the sunshine summer or winter.
As I sat with the box of books I began reading what I had written in the days leading up to my hospitalization. I remember my body was slowing down and I felt like I wasn't getting anything done so I began writing down everything I did labeling it with the time I began and stopped the activity. I started at 6:30am and didn't stop until 11:00pm at night.
As I read through this detailed minute by minute in what could have been my last moments, I felt and remembered a lot of what I had forgotten. It felt like I was looking through a window right back in to my past. There were notes from friends, email addresses, and phone numbers of the people who I knew then. My paintings were here and there in various exhibitions, some of them whom my classmates had curated. It's just so apparent how right my life was for me at that point.
I met some critical people for furthering my career, had them waiting for coffee dates and lunches ready and willing to mentor me.
My last daily entry was March 14th, 2006. Strangely the last two days of entries consisted of a list of things I tried to do those days. I was unknowingly too ill to do anything yet kept trying and was just spinning my wheels.
"-tried to read in Cook St"
"-tried to buy Charlotte's paintings"
"-tried to take photos of the tree painting"
"-wrote second draft of MBA letter"
There were also lots of notes about preparing and applying for my MBA. Then the entries went silent. My last entry was about 11 or 12 days before I put my brushes down at school and went home to die. Only I didn't know I was dying.
The next lists and notes were about cancer. As I switched over from painting every day, to self documentation through photography, I had written about what that process meant to me. I had found myself in the middle of something I was completely unprepared for. I felt that what the world put out about going through cancer was a false romanticism. The reality of it was like nothing anyone should ever have to go through...
yet this is life and shit happens.
It is fascinating to see what my moments were like at those times and the brutality of it does not make remembering it sad. It feels comforting in fact. Those moments were something that I was missing from my memory and I'm glad to have them back. And who knew it would be as easy as looking into a box?
It feels like a piece of me is back again.
And now, here I sit with the blank sketch book. The one thing I can trust is that it contains my future.