When I first heard these words, spoken by Waymond Wang (actor Ke Huy Quan) in Everything Everywhere All At Once, I felt my heart shatter a bit–not in sadness, but rather in feeling seen.
How can a movie see you? It’s in the acknowledgment that your view of the world is reflected in someone else’s experience. While the character is created, someone wrote these words. Someone felt them enough to write a story about them. Enough people relate to these words that they’ve turned this movie into a remarkable success both financially and in critical acclaim.
As a turning point in the movie, there is a recognition that seeing the good is another possible path.
I have, throughout my life, worked to see the good. Despite my efforts, I have become the villain in many scenarios. I have been misunderstood. I have been lost in the translation of what I think I am saying versus what is heard by others.
When I heard these words coming at me from onscreen, I realized that this too is how I’ve learned to survive. It can seem naive–I can seem naive–but seeing the good side is how I fight.
It is too easy to slide into the despair of a cruel world. It is too easy to begin to believe that nothing matters.
It doesn’t matter that I write this blog. It doesn’t matter if I write my stories. It doesn’t matter if I don’t do my art. Not many people read it anyway. No one cares. It doesn’t matter. Nothing matters.
Everything Everywhere All At Once looks at what it means when nothing matters. Then they turn the concept on its head; nothing matters, and therefore, we can do whatever we want.
If nothing matters, then it doesn’t matter if no one ever reads my writing; write anyway. Create anyway. Love anyway.
Everything Everywhere is one of those once-in-a-lifetime films that ask you to relook at your perception of life. It is a story about motherhood, marriage, family, culture, cultural immersion, sexuality, a loss of hope, a loss of dreams, life path, and the roads we didn’t travel. It is also a story of emptiness, depression, loneliness, desire, acceptance, forgiveness, kindness, time, connection, and, above all, love.
Sound big? It is big. The movie is quite literally about everything, everywhere, all at once.
Photo Gallery Inspired by Everything Everywhere All At Once
This last year, I have felt a little “on hold” creatively. My big canvases were packed up, I’ve been trying to clean out a very messy studio, trying to organize. I’ve focused on my writing with the process of rewriting Oz for NaNoWriMo as well as a short story challenge with my writing partner, Bridgette.
As I talked about in The Battle of Creativity, I’m a bit all over the place. I tend to call it creative or artistic ADD; I struggle with keeping a focus on a single project over time. I didn’t finish Oz (I made it to the Emerald City) and I didn’t finish a full year of short stories (I finished 25).
Thinking we were moving in the near future had a certain hold over me; packing, cleaning things out, organizing, just sitting and enjoying my current reality where I can see both the sunset and the moon rise.
The realities of the housing market in California (and most everywhere in the United States) have touched us directly. Our dreams of building a home have ended in double and triple the building costs due to supply chains and inflation. Our search for homes already built have led to an inflated market at a time when the United States may be moving into a recession. Interest rates and loans are building dramatically.
I am anxious to be closer to my aging parents, I am anxious to be a regular help to them in their lives. I dreamed of moving before my daughter started college so that it would feel like her home too.
After many tears and a bit of heartbreak, we decided to be patient and wait. And so, while I still feel the need to clean and clear and organize and pack, I also feel the need to paint.
I signed up for an online class (Abyssimo School of Art by Maria Grossbaum). You might wonder, why would I spend money on an online class when I already have my tools and my style and art is a part of who I am? The answer is, we should never be afraid to learn from someone else to make our own skills stronger.
I don’t care how much I think I might know, my brain can always learn more; I can always be better. By taking classes, I have the opportunity to learn new tools that I can incorporate into my own style making something that is uniquely me. When I began using polymer in my paintings, it was only due to classes I took with Klew, a groundbreaking polymer clay artist. Everything I do in life, every class I take, adds to my well of knowledge.
The other gift of taking a class is that it provides me with direction. We all go through stages of burnout. We are often unsure of what to do next.
I often walk into my studio with the intention of creativity, look around, get overwhelmed, and walk out. Because creativity is messy, I often don’t know where to start or with what tools. Taking a class removes those obstacles and moves me forward without doubt.
The class I signed up for (Capturing the Elusive Beauty of the Dragonfly) required some tools that I don’t just naturally have laying around my studio; heavy watercolor paper, metallic watercolors, and adhesive for gold leaf.
I ordered the items, a gift to my creative self, a gift that will last much longer than the class. I also finally bought myself a set of professional watercolors, something I’ve wanted to do for some time. I don’t know how to watercolor. I’ve always been interested, but I’ve never learned beyond the simple watercoloring we do as children.
My watercolors arrived and, oh how beautiful the pigment is in a professional set! I’m so used to the faded colors of the play sets. I painted a pallet so that I could see what each paint looked like outside of the pan.
Painting a pallet is much like writing morning pages in Artist Way; it calms the mind while getting the creative juices flowing. It acts as an artist date, seeing how the colors move with water and the depth of their pigment.
I followed the steps of the class and began the abstract practice of skills; taping the canvas, adding a base, gold (in my case copper) leaf, white gel pens, adding light and shadow.
Having always worked with mediums such as acrylic, I didn’t know the absolute beauty of laying watercolors for light and dark! There is a richness to it that I haven’t experienced in other mediums. I have long imagined a watercolor collection of landscapes, and now I am beginning to see its formation.
While I wait patiently for what comes next in life, I will paint. I will explore classes. I will imagine a dream home (with views of both the sunset and the moonrise) becoming available to us so that I can be closer to my parents and have a place my daughter will feel is hers to come home to when she goes to college.
We can’t let go of creativity when big things happen; creativity is the secret to helping us though.
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