I guess now that I think about it, I should have known all along what my aesthetic was going to be. Anyone who knows me, knows I love Wicked, the Broadway musical. I am a bit of a dork when it comes to that. Right now as I type this I am looking up at the Wicked poster that hangs on my wall above my desk. I have always loved Wicked and I could always list several reasons why. Actually the list is very long. But now, I think, I may have narrowed it down to a concept, to something that reflects how I think and approach life.
I would have to say my personal motto is “Defying Gravity.” This is the title of a song in Wicked, actually the last song before intermission, and, therefore, a very powerful one. In this song, we have Elphaba, the so-called Wicked Witch of the West, saying that she wants to start her own life, go on her own journey. She wants to defy gravity, defy all the burdens in life that are tying her down. She wants to create her own life, defy the judgment of others. She doesn’t want to conform. She want’s to fly – to be light and free. She wants to live without gravity, or at least live without the gravity put on her by others. If there is to be gravity, she wants it to be self-created. There is a difference.
But this idea of defying gravity, I think, is something I can apply to my own life and the choices I make. I like to defy the burden of thought, of heavy, deep thought. I like to pick at it until it becomes light and understandable. I pick apart my thoughts, other people’s thoughts, the thoughts of people who write books, or the characters in books – the bottom line, is that I try to defy this gravity. I analyze and dissect something, I try to push against it, push myself against the weight of it.
When it came to picking my E-lit pieces, a common thread I found in my choices, was this idea of picking pieces that were comprised mainly of letters. I picked the simplest, lightest form, as if to defy the gravity of words or thoughts that the other E-lit pieces had. I picked pieces that got to the core of the matter, ones that appeared simple. Therefore, in order to defy their gravity, you had to look even deeper, make the letters even lighter. It is wrong to say that I chose pieces that were completely light. They were not. Instead, they showed the duality of lightness versus heaviness. They could be “light” if you looked at them long enough. They could be “light” if you did not look at them long enough. They could be heavy if you let them get to you, if you got too caught up in the detail. And they could be heavy if you didn’t take the time to make them “light.” Words have the potential to weigh you down, leave you breathless, leave you stunned. They have the ability to hurt and sting and pierce. Words have weight. Or they can. The idea with defying gravity, though, is making these words light enough that you understand their meaning. They have affected you, but now they have moved on, and you have moved on, and you can return to a safer place for the time being.
While the personal motto came rather easily, it took a bit more time to think of a personal emblem to illustrate this idea. I was standing at the bus stop smelling in the fumes of the bus, the bad odor of the guy next to me, and staring at the way this girl’s sweater looked like highlighter yellow, when it hit me. I had been thinking of things that are light – the sun, sunflowers, a laugh, a smile, clouds, butterflies, letters, lullabies, humming…bubbles.
A bubble is light for many reasons.
1.) The lightness of a thought bubble:
The idea of a thought bubble, is that whatever you are thinking, or beginning to think about, is not yet fully formed. It is light. It has no weight or grounding in your mind. Therefore, it floats on up above your head. It defies the gravity of seriousness, of commitment, or saying something out loud. It can remain in its thought bubble until it is popped, until it is unleashed, until gravity takes a hold of it.
2.) The innocent bubble:
Why is it that kids are usually the ones seen blowing bubbles? There is something so innocent about seeing this, witnessing it. But it almost feels like you are intruding, like you are somehow popping this bubble of innocence. I think the idea of innocence as a sort of bubble, must be addressed. When you are young and light, not yet tied down by the burdens of reality, you defy gravity, in a sense. I always think back to a particular analogy when it comes to losing innocence – this idea that as a kid, you look up at the clouds and imagine them as giant cotton balls of fluff. But then at some point you learn that clouds are nothing more than particles of dust, that if you tried to jump on them you would come crash-crashing to the ground. Gravity would grab you. I liken a loss of innocence, in a way, to the idea of gravity. Therefore, if we are seeing gravity as a sort of tarnished innocence, then defying gravity is a way to keep ourselves young. Trying to create this bubble of innocence, we can create an illusion of safety from reality.
3.) The physical qualities of a bubble:
A bubble is light. It is transparent. It has no weight. It floats. If you blow on a bubble, you can change its direction. If you touch a bubble, it pops. It is literally so light, it cannot last. At the same time, a world without gravity, without weight, would be a lifeless world. However, for those few moments, a bubble defies this idea. A bubble gives us hope of lightness – lightness from responsibility, lightness from guilt, regret, seriousness. However, the interesting thing about a bubble, is that you are either in it, or you are not. You are either light, or you are heavy. There is a definite dichotomy. You can’t really be both. The moment when you are both, is maybe that moment right before you pop, right before the weight of the world once again becomes heavy.
Another physical aspect of a bubble, is that it literally reflects light. When you look into a bubble, you see the world around you reflected in its surface. It takes on a visual lightness, as well as a physical one. It takes the ground, and it brings it up into the air – it spins the world upside down, taking away the gravity.
It is interesting to note that Wicked starts out with someone coming down in a bubble. The first image we see is Glinda drifting down in a bubble. She starts out light, so light. And as she comes closer to the ground, we see her become heavier, as she is aware of the burden she has – this burden to tell her tale, and Elphaba’s tale. She has the burden of self-reflection – a different sort of reflection than the bubble, but similar, too, in many ways. She is taking the heaviness of her past, and reflecting it into something lighter in order to understand it, to make “light” of it. And while doing so, she realizes the weight of the situation.
The thing about a bubble, is that it does not last. It is self-created, much like the words on this page, the thoughts in our heads, the ideas behind the E-lit pieces. We create these bubbles to capture an idea, a moment, a word. And we hope that someone else can look in our bubble, see themselves reflected back, and take something from this bubble to help them reconstruct their own. We hope our thoughts are light enough to float, but heavy enough that others can see them. And while we want our ideas to last, they will eventually pop. Then, someone else will pick up the bubble parts, and form a new bubble.
When I looked at the E-lit pieces, and while I was creating this page, I realized it was all about the reflection I saw. It was about my bubble. Yes, I looked at other people’s bubbles. But, more so, what I did, was I made other people’s bubbles merge with mine. I looked at an E-lit piece and said that this illustrates a particular quality, because I wanted it to illustrate that quality.
I think back to the idea of a thought bubble, of this idea that we are defying the gravity of commitment or saying something out loud, writing it down for good. There are so many thoughts swarming around in my head right now, so many thought bubbles floating up in the air around my brown hair. And some of these thought bubbles I am popping as I write this blog. They are coming crashing down to reality, ending up on this page. I am giving them gravity, but then I letting them float back up in the air for someone else to ponder. Even though my words are on this page, they can still defy gravity in the sense that I am trying to make them light. I am trying to explain myself, why I chose certain emblems, E-lit pieces. I am trying to explain to you that everything boils down to this point – making sense out of a world of chaos. I am defying the tendency that things will lead to entropy. I am taking ideas, and trying to shed some “light” on them. I tried to pick emblems that had a natural, light, tendency to them. I tried to pick E-lit pieces that defied the weight of heavy thought.
I guess what I am trying to get at is this idea that you can’t have just gravity, or weight. You also have to have lightness. They feed off of each other. You are never really both. But you can do your best to defy the weight, to become light. You can do your best to stay young at heart, to always think, try to understand the world. You can close your eyes and remember childhood and blowing bubbles in the backyard while your mom baked chocolate chip cookies. And then you will open your eyes and see the pile of books on your desk and the paper that needs to be written. You will feel the weight. But, I don’t think we ever stop defying it. At least, I don’t. And that is what I realized – I attempt to defy gravity in my choices, my words, my thoughts. I may not fly up on a broom like Elphaba, but I sure do try.