While I was making the New Beginnings jewelry collection, I thought about how so many important transitions in adult life are vaguely marked and not much acknowledged. Major events -- we tend to describe them politely an clinically as "stressors" -- like moving house, changing jobs, new relationships, health diagnoses, are times of transition that divide a life into distinct eras.
But since they come at unpredictable times and in sometimes random ways, and are sometimes intentional and sometimes decisions that are made for us, it's hard to know how to mark them. This is entirely unlike the orderly, well-heralded and highly public transitions that characterize childhood, when second grade yields to inevitably to third, caps and gowns are donned between changing school buildings, appetizers and gifts arrive to mark first religious milestones, candles steadily increase each year on the birthday cake.
Sometimes we're ready for a major change, but I think we don't really know how profound transitions are going to be as a total life adjustment until after they happen. When I was suddenly divorced, and a few years later, suddenly fell in love and was in a new partnership, I wrote the same words in my journal: my life has changed. But I didn't really *get* that everything was going to be different from both events.
All of the pieces in this collection are meant to commemorate major life changes, even if you're just acknowledging them to yourself, quietly. Most important moments in life involve new keys, so you'll see a number of key and lock plate pieces. All of them require compassion and a certain amount of heart. And a little bit of magical thinking never hurts.
*I drooled on my lawyer's conference table once -- that memory was a part of why this collection happened. Read the story here.
* "Life change units" are an actual way of measuring how physically debilitating a life transition will be -- it's called the Holmes and Rahe Stress scale, named for the two psychiatrists who developed it in 1967. Losing a spouse through death or divorce -- or gaining a new one -- are pretty high up there. Basically life is hazardous to your health and will kill you eventually.
*I found much of the raw material I used for this collection at Big Reuse, a store for salvaged and surplus construction materials. (Specifically, the metal piece that became Quivering Hearts, and all the keys and lock plates.) I love the old fashioned keys -- ancient Egyptian technology -- and there's a substantial move away from keys in favor of fobs, retinal scanning and other technological geegaws. The term "car keys" may become as quaint as "pay phone.' But people still like keys for things that count, perception being an important part of reality. The BBC examines whether keys are becoming obsolete here. Also, if you too find locks, key plates and other useful pieces of metal beautiful, go to The Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. In addition to works by Matisse, Renoir and Picasso, Albert Barnes collected 887 pieces of useful metal, including hinges, lock plates, scissors and keys, which he displayed among his paintings as the works of art that they are. You can visit virtually here.
*The Pali word for compassion is karuna, which literally means "a quivering heart in response to a being's pain." Compassion is one part of every person's true nature, according to Buddhist philosophy. The others are friendliness, gladness and equanimity. Learn more about this at Yoga Journal. (I didn't write that article, but I wrote a few other pieces for Yoga Journal a while ago. All on a pretty page, here.)
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