Dear reader, the other day the most remarkable thing happened, something completely out of the ordinary: I got an email from Elsita saying she was coming through town and did I want to get together for dinner?
Are you familiar with Elsita, dear reader? Has your life been touched by hers? I could go on at length about my thoughts and impressions, all gathered before actually meeting her in person.
Here is one I will share with you:
After the death of my mother in 2008, I hit a patch in the grieving process which felt very bleak and led, gradually, to the thought of making art and perhaps selling it and perhaps creating a blog that would in some way enhance the entire experience.
At any rate, in the midst of these thoughts which were completely new and foreign to me, I began to look around at the many creative blogs on the internet, at artists who sold their work on Etsy, and was both inspired and filled with curiosity regarding the steps one should take to follow such a path.
As I look back on that time, I now realize how much grief colored everything I saw. It was not just grief over the death of my mother but layers of grief from other sad events of the past...and so it was with great caution I set out on my little journey of following these creative thoughts which brought me such a small yet vibrant flicker of hope.
Since I was completely new to these avenues, I contacted a few of the bloggers and artists I admired, not with the intent of expecting them to divulge trade secrets or even to take much time in answering my questions. Perhaps I was just looking for a word of encouragement. I didn't hear back from them and that was fine--it didn't daunt or shatter me, and I could appreciate how busy one might be and the difficulty of responding to a stranger's note.
But. One of the people I contacted was Elsita. I had somehow stumbled across her work on Etsy and then found her blog and was simply floored by her creative gifts. I wrote her a note never expecting to hear back and...I am not kidding...I do believe she responded not five minutes later. I seriously almost fell off my chair. She was so straightforward, so open, positive, and encouraging.
Elsita taught me a lesson that day about how I want to conduct myself, not that I am given to notions of self-importance or exclusivity, but I do have a certain reticence and reserve. She was so kind, so immediately warm and generous with her encouragement. How could she have known my heart was aching with sorrow and that her words, though completely unrelated to those issues, fell upon me like a soothing balm?
Of course she hadn't the faintest clue but it hardly mattered...that's the way Elsita is, it's how she chooses to navigate life. I don't mean to set her on a pedestal or imply she's perfect, but this is her outlook and more often than not, I would imagine it strongly affects the way she experiences life.
So why would I be surprised to receive Elsita's email inviting our families to get together? I guess I'm still learning from her, from her openness and curiosity which translates into boldly reaching out into the real world and allowing an opportunity for something deeper and more beautiful to bloom.
We did end up getting together.
Elsita and her family are embarking on the adventure of a lifetime, pursuing a dream to move to upstate New York and foster creativity there. Their first stop was in Las Vegas and we met at a restaurant in the midst of the chaotic Strip--both families wandering in a daze through the casino, trying to find the restaurant and nearly colliding into one another. From the moment we crossed paths until rather late into the evening when the kids were starting to look a little glassy-eyed, we talked like long lost friends, like sisters, even.
I include her entire family in that impression: have you ever met someone whose company you instantly and innately enjoy?
That is what it was like to meet the Horberg family.
Elsita brought me this gift, one of her beautiful papercuts, and I feel it conveys exactly what I've been trying to tell you about what transpires through living a warm and open life.
It is an invitation to me, a gentle challenge...it evokes what I believe and try, in my own flawed and quiet way, to put into practice.
What can come of opening one's eyes, hands, and heart to the world?
You can only know as you allow this idea to take root within you and grow into something more lovely, more real, prolific, and fruitful than you ever could have imagined in the secret, beautiful world of your mind.