Love, Legacy, and Leaves
Who loved you into being?
“All of us have special ones who have loved us into being… think of the people who have helped you become who you are…”
These words from Mr. Rogers have been with me for the past month, especially last week as we remembered lost loved ones in the beginning of November with Samhain, All Saints’ Day, All Souls’ Day and Dia de los Muertos. These holidays honor remembrance of those who have died. Autumn feels like a holy time, a thin space as the leaves fall and we watch nature prepare for winter. Just as it is a time of harvest in the natural world, it can be a time of reflection on the gifts of legacy from our ancestors and those who have lived before us.
As a college student, I interviewed friends and family asking about creativity in their work and every day lives. This week I have been revisiting written responses from my grandmothers and great aunt and uncle. I’m grateful to have received their reflections while they were still living and these voices feel that much more precious as they now mingle with favorite memories and ways I see my ancestors live on in my own practices.
“Creativity is feeling free to express oneself, by making something from nothing: a beautiful painting from a blank canvas, a beautiful poem from a blank piece of paper, an interpretation of a dance step that makes it completely yours alone. It is created by you the artist in your own unique way.”
Elaine Vosburg, artist, my grandmother
“Being observant helps create ideas that you can use in your own way of life.”
Ruth Horn, seamstress, homemaker, my grandmother
“A creative lifestyle, to me, it means life itself, living.”
Vern Vosburg, farmer, factory worker, amateur videographer, my great-uncle
“To be able to imagine, to be able to ‘make do’ with what we have.”
Wanita Barrett, “Aunt Sis,” Ben Franklin Store Owner, my great-aunt
I am struck by how each of these people connects their creativity to everyday life. I am grateful to have their voices and reflections to join my own memories of their influences on my creativity.
Who loved you into being?
As we remember our ancestors, and members of our collective communion of saints, I invite you to remember family, close friends, mentors, teachers and those who inspired you with their lives, their words, or their creations even if you never met in person.
How can love motivate creation?
We might first think of love songs and sonnets when we think of love motivating creation. However, BAND-AID brand adhesive bandages, overalls, and the game Wordle, were all first invented as acts of love. Each of these things was initially created out of love for one particular person but went on to clothe, care for, and entertain many people.
Can you think of stories of creations motivated by love?
I’d love to have you share your own stories in the comments or by email.
Leaves have been my biggest inspiration this fall. I’ve been learning about the impact of awe on our well-being. The colors in a single leaf easily inspire awe and I am quickly looking around for more leaves, newly caught up in the awe of the sheer number of different individual pieces of creation falling form each tree.
These quotes have been especially inspiring in my leaf observaitons…
“There is almost nothing that has such a keen sense of fun as a fallen leaf.”
“It's possible to understand the world from studying a leaf. You can comprehend the laws of aerodynamics, mathematics, poetry and biology through the complex beauty of such a perfect structure.”
“…it always seems shocking that something can let go so swiftly and so decisively. I think I really like that. I think to me that seems like a sort of invitation, offering, or an opportunity to look at things that I've maybe been holding onto for the last year that I don't need to.”
I noticed more trees let go of their canopies this week, more leaves on the ground than on the trees. It is expected yet surprising each year to see this transformation. I love how the leaves let go but hang around to nourish the trees and the soil beneath. I think about letting go in this season too and allowing things to return to compost to nourish the next season of growth.
You may wonder what do leaves have to do with love and legacy, with the theme of remembrance that began this letter. For me, my ancestors are all tied to my sense of wonder in the natural world. I remember admiring plants and walking in gardens with my grandmothers and visiting the lake and farm of my great aunt and great uncle. Some of my most treasured memories with my grandmother were in 2019, what would be her last autumn season. When I visited, conversation felt difficult sitting inside because there were so many things she couldn’t remember. We would walk outside, greeting the trees, the plants, noticing the changes and remarking on the colors. It was a good way for two artistic souls to connect and to have a focus on light and color that let us share wonder in the present moment.
Thank you for reading and being part of creative community through this newsletter. I welcome your memories, reflections, and moments of awe.
With a grateful heart,
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