I sat in the back of the room, looked around at all the artworks on the walls and the display case I carefully set up Tuesday night. All the snags and glitches that come with a big project all fell away. I thought, “what must it be like to come and see your own books, artwork, and artifacts that you donated hung on the wall, or under the plexi of a display case?” Items that were once inside your home, in your study, hallway, or living room now presented to a large group of people.
It has got to be strange.
I cannot imagine people looking at my journals, looking at drawings, or the copy of To Kill A Mockingbird I have had for well over 20 years. Does it make you feel important? Or does it cheapen your life, fetishizing it for the masses to “ooh and aahh” at.
As an archivist, historian, art exhibition creator I always think and say, I want to do justice to the historic materials in my care. I want to tell a story through the exhibitions I pull together to connect the past to people living today in order to inform them about where we have been and how far we have come (or have yet to go).
This most recent exhibition of motive magazine, a magazine published by the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Higher Education and Mission, accomplishes that goal. The exhibition is one in which I am very proud. Pride is a rare occurrence when it comes to my day job.
The magazine was published from 1941-1972 by a very forward-thinking, progressive group of people that wanted to improve the future of the the newly developed United Methodist Church. motive asked of its readers to take action. Service to others, immersion and critical thinking about the politics of the day, the arts, philosophy, relationships, sex, civil rights, women, challenging the voice of the majority, and more were all ways to encourage students that read it pages to change the world to make it a more human place.
Nothing was off limits. And everyone who was everyone was in the magazine. From Albert Einstein to Hugh Hefner to Thomas Merton. To say the journal was expansive is an understatement.
I hope I did this exhibition of one of our collections justice through the eyes of those who created this magazine’s history or simply read it. I hope today’s visitors were proud of what they saw on the walls. I thank them for sharing a little piece of their lives with us so that we can live, learn, and explore ways to be better people through the work that they have done.
I guess this is the noble reason why people donate their papers to libraries and archives — to allow others to become better humans.
And maybe, after all, it is not all that awkward for the artifacts’ donors to see books that once lined the walls of their study under the plexiglass, so long as there are pairs of new eyes opened to its story.
To learn more about motive magazine, go to this website. See pictures of the exhibition at the Boston University School of Theology in a future blog post!
Images Copyright Kara Jackman
These photos were taken in Mashpee, MA at Willowbend Country Club. The floors, herbs, and overall landscaping were on point. I stubbled upon mint, different types of basil, and even lavender around the grounds of this exclusive golf course. I am becoming a bit of a green thumb, these days, so this was of particular interest to me.
My brother’s wedding reception was at the country club. The weekend was so busy I did not have the opportunity to enjoy the grounds and amenities. I was grateful for the opportunity to take a few days off to experience a beautiful pool deck, and a top-notch exercise, tennis, and golf facility.
And…it was a great place to take my camera out for a spin.
I hope you enjoy the fruits of my fun (not labor). I am currently taking an online photography class so I can get the most out of my DSLR and take better photos. Perhaps, even earn money from this creative outlet.
Hopefully, I am decent enough at this photography thing to make a go of it. If not, that is okay. I enjoy the opportunity to be creative. Without some form of artistic expression, life would be quite boring. Photography is an easy way to keep strengthening those creative muscles.
I made a big mistake and published a blog meant for another location. (I fixed it and is now gone.) Some people out there may learn something about me that I may not have wanted to share under my actual, real name. Sometimes I care, sometimes I do not care about what gets published here. This is my space to do what I please. I have spent the better part of the last 36 years doing what I think other people want me to do (emphasis on the think). It is no way to live. I am trying to undo all the terrible work my evil brain has done.
I want to be authentic, real, and I do not want to censor myself.
I am an open book to some extent, I guess. I can’t be completely honest in a world where it can quickly be used against you. I am usually pretty careful, just not so tonight.
However, now that I have yelled “Fire” in a crowded cinema, I do want to address a continuing problem with this blog: the main idea (you know, “what’s it all about, Alfie?” I know I am too young for that reference, but for some reason I know a lot more than I should.)
I tell people I blog, and they then ask, “what about,” and that’s where the conversation ends because I do not have an answer.
“I write about pop culture!?!???” I muse.
“I write about whatever strikes my fancy!?!??” is another way of handling it. It is true. It is an authentic response.
I’m this weird person that enjoys all the many different parts of the world, and can talk about any number of those areas for about 10 minutes, or 500 words. I’m a dabbler, a dilettante. It is much ado about nothing, or it’s much adieu about nothing, if you do not get it. In other words, thanks for clicking through.
I’m into baseball, basketball, football, tennis, art, architecture, music, literature, writing, the emotional and mental process, life, self improvement, and a bunch of other things. It may be easier to name the things I know little about: 1) cooking, 2) keeping some plants alive and growing, and 3) curling.
I love new topics. So maybe some day soon cooking and baking will be an interest of mine. I get obsessed with something and often lock in on that topic alone until I have reached some intermediate level of understanding. Or I get distracted and move on to something else of interest. An example, I was pretty interested in the Holocaust when in Junior High School. I read everything I could get my hands on from fiction to nonfiction. The same was true with the life and death of President John F. Kennedy (from birth to now) and healing herbs (high school).
I do not want to be the “I-like-everything” kind of person, but I do like almost everything.
So I guess the blog is about almost everything.
What is a real cool way of saying this?:
“I’m a short-form essayist.”
“The blog about everything,” …as opposed to the sitcom about nothing.
I like the essayist. There is something there…
I just got finished watching the Brett Morgen documentary, Montage of Heck, on Cobain. I feel compelled to write about it for so many reasons. One of them makes me a superficial, fame-whore sellout, a reason that Cobain himself would despise. My last post on him, written 3 years ago, is pinged on a near weekly basis. The second is a more pure one: I relate very heavily with Cobain’s experience on Earth, his lyrics, his emotions, his stomach trouble, his sensitivity to the other. Thirdly, he died during a very seminal year for me, a year after a major surgery, and during a move to a new town. I am sensitive. On the heels of a rough surgical recovery in Spring 1993, this additional transition was a bit much.
Cobain had debilitating, undiagnosed, stomach problems, emotional problems, trauma, depression, anxiety, angst, a great and active mind, which Morgen effectively exhibited through his chosen medium, the documentary. I, too, have a debilitating, undiagnosable stomach ailment, emotional problems, experienced trauma, feel the pangs of depression and anxiety daily.
I get how he felt.
I get how he feels.
Cobain had an Outlet for His Distress
Cobain, though, got to live his art. It gave him an outlet for some time. The lyrics he wrote were catharsis. He was punk-rock angry. In the documentary, the audience sees Cobain whiling away days on the couch, smoking cigarettes, playing guitar, writing in his numerous notebooks. It appeared as if he was a burnout to the many around him that watched him during this time, but this could not be further from the truth. He was living and writing many of the songs that would later appear on Nirvana’s first album, Nevermind.
I, on the other hand, must squeeze it in after a long day’s work, sometimes in the wee hours of morning.
Morgen and Cobain Use Medium as the Messenger
Just like with Crossfire Hurricane, Morgen allows large swatches of archival film and audio to play uncomfortably longer than necessary. I felt the documentary in such a profound way because Morgen animated the figures and words contained in Cobain’s journals. Morgen also created comic book-like animation to pair with an audio recording of Cobain talking about his first attempted suicide in his teen years. This was new information delivered in a nearly perfect manner. Montage was Heck may be Morgen’s greatest achievements.
Why did Morgen make the choices he did in crafting the documentary? Cobain has been mythologized. He has been written, and written, and written about ad nauseum. The audience needs to feel and experience him in a refreshing way. Morgen got it spot on. The medium is the message, which is how Cobain, and countless other artists like him, would have wanted it. I argue this point in the blog post from three years ago. Cobain wanted to be known for what he created. He did not want the attention that comes with fame. He only wanted his angst and pain to be validated, to be heard. A pure artist, through and through.
Thankfully, Morgen did not go into the gruesome details and numerous controversies over Cobain’s death. He simply ends the documentary with a statement saying that Cobain took his life on April 5, 1994. No throngs of people sitting in parks, nor MTV News clips announcing the news were shown. The screen just faded to black and the credits rolled.
I could not have been happier with the way this documentary was packaged and information put together. New details about Cobain’s life presented in a way that did not humiliate or sensationalize, like so many other documentarians have done with his life and death. This was a celebration of Nirvana and Cobain’s affect on the world. His mother said it best when she heard what would become Nevermind for the first time, “this is going to change everything…because you are not ready for this.”
If you are interested in learning more about what was revealed in the documentary, watch it on HBO, or HBO Go, or read the Rolling Stone article that summarizes nine revelations from the film.
“Wouldn’t it be great if everyone reacted this way?” he asked.
I nodded and burst into tears.
The man talking to me, my friend, asked me this after his new dog put his head on my right foot and his upper body against my shin Thursday morning upon meeting the dog for the first time. The dog sensed my pain, my anxiety, sadness, and stress. This is the second of as many dogs owned by my friend that had the innate ability to know that I needed comfort through quiet confidence. Eery was it that both dogs knew to sit by my side quietly.
I love animals. They are such perceiving creatures. They are pure of heart, mind, and action. They keep it simple. They do not overcomplicate with thoughts, judgments, and other negativities. All of which cause troublesome interactions between people. Dogs are considered to be man’s best friend. The reason, in my opinion, is because they listen to your words, your mind, and soul. Then they anticipate what you need and most of the time all that is needed is to be heard by another sentient being.
The greatest asset my father and brother hold is the ability to sit by your side without any expectation of conversation. My favorite times spent with my immediate family are those times when all four of us watch TV, and maybe drift off to sleep together, in the same room.
In short, dogs, and the males in my family get it. Being present is enough. One does not need to further complicate things with words, thoughts, and unreliable expressions of emotion.
Unfortunately, or fortunately (depends on the day) humans were blessed with emotions and high-level, reasoning ability that force some of us to overthink things. In life you have to take the good, take the bad and do the best that you can.
(“…and there you have the facts of life/the facts of life.” Look, I was born in the late 1970s. I’m not going to leave the low-hanging fruit just blowing in the wind.)
Put more succinctly, I like my brain’s ability to think and solve complex issues in an efficient manner, but must it stew on something small till it overheats like an old car? Yes, it must. But it doesn’t HAVE to.
I can build in the pauses to prevent the car from stalling. Once it overheats, it is toooo late.
I call the shots as to where I want to direct my thoughts, or how much emotional energy I want to invest in something that happened in the past or will happen in future. The so-called preparation and Monday-morning quarterbacking never gets me anywhere but miserable, so I’ve got to “Be here now,” in this moment.
I need to find the dog deep down inside me and experience life.
I must be my own calming, quiet presence, resting my proverbial snout against my own feet and shins to show myself some love.
I deserve it.
Some days there are no mistakes. There are some strange coincidences, though.
People, usually with big, bright smiles on their faces, say, “Coincidences are God’s way of remaining anonymous.”
With that said, today while sitting in front of my computer, I clicked my mouse over my Chrome web browser toolbar by accident. Seemingly out of nowhere came a screen with mass times for a local church affiliated with a Jesuit college.
I said to myself, “I got you God. I can see what you did there. Very entertaining! Well played, sir.”
I then thought, “Hmm, maybe I can make the evening mass time today.”
Turns out, my body had other plans for me. I’m having one of my terrible episodes of debilitating, full-on, level 10 (Actually, “These go to 11.”), stem-to-stern body pain.
It feels like the aches you get with the flu coupled with a buzzing feeling just beneath the skin. And yes, ALL over my body. It hurts to breathe.
Tonight was not the night. I’ll go to mass another night.
I went home after work, ate dinner, and opened up the copy of the alumni magazine from the Jesuit college I graduated from 13 years ago. I read about two men who overcame great odds, rising above and beyond the ways their bodies betrayed them, to live their lives and pursue their dreams.
“Yes, God I see. I get it. You did it again. I got the message. I’m picking up what you are putting down.”
There are people in this world with major obstacles and they have overcome them. You can too, Kara, but only if you lean on something larger than yourself, like God. It has worked for me before…back when I believed and attended mass regularly. Guess where this was happening? Yes, you guessed it, during my college days, around Jesuits.
Today I just wanted to give up. My life is throwing me challenges left and right, and it FEELS as if I live a pain-filled existence. I can’t do the physical pain, the stress, the sadness and the feeling less than everyone around me. My spirituality tank is running on fumes.
Oh, and news flash, everyone else is managing some kind of hardship right now, too. I have had many conversations and counseled teens with craniofacial conditions stating this unavoidable truth. You may not see their scars, like the world can plainly see yours, but everyone has some hardship with which they are grappling.
So long story short, Kara, Shut up. And in the words of Denis Leary, who you quote far too often, “Get a Helmet.”
Take care of yourself, Kara. Love yourself. Listen to the guidance of God, and stop trying to shun and shirk Him by ducking into the dirty, dark alleys of your soul. If you want to be happy, content, and move everything in your life forward, Kara, you have to believe again. Note His presence and take action.
He is looking out for you with His not-so-coincidental mouse clicks. And now it is time that you look after Him, through prayer, possibly attending mass once in a while, and, most importantly, by stopping your daily denial of His existence, like you are Judas or something.
You’re not. You’re Kara — a believer, a Roman Catholic, a Jesuit-educated woman of honor, dignity, and integrity.
So, “Get a Helmet,” and act like it.
Hope. Some days it is in endless supply, other days the shelves are sparsely stocked. Right now, I am perched on a a millimeter thin sliver of hope. I have it, though. Unlike money or time, it doesn’t matter how much hope you have to feel a sense of security.
You just need to recognize its presence.
The days when hope is abundant, it is far easier. I do fully admit that fact, but the days when the hope feels onion-skin thin, those are the days when you grow. You struggle. Struggling is good because it means you are engaged in a fight for some change, or for some greater purpose. If you are struggling, and gaining no ground, you may want to change your goal, change your direction. Hope will help reorient you to a more effective way of achieving your goal enabling you to keep struggling. Ultimately, you will reach your goal.
I think struggling gets a bad rap because it is misunderstood. If you are struggling, you are in a dynamic state. working towards possible improvement. Said another way, one’s circumstances can only get better once the struggle is over and those moments of perceived pain pass. After all, a muscle has to endure tiny tears in order to develop more strength and agility.
And man it sucks. See, it is okay to validate the struggle. It is hard. Remember, though, if hope is recognized your struggle will not be in vain.
I have a modicum of it. Hope is there to get me through tonight and into tomorrow. Hope is blind faith in the universe, and coupled with a bit of struggling, or action, tomorrow can be whatever you choose to make it. I need to remember that if I change my ways great things are possible.
Hope, without hustle, is dead.
We use the word hope in such a flippant way, so much so that we have cheapened it and rendered the word meaningless. How many times have you heard someone say, “I hope things get better.” or “I hope the weather becomes more pleasant.” I hope the [insert sports team of your choice here] win.” Hope is more than that. It is not for suckers. It gives us something to strive for, something to struggle toward. It is the lighthouse beacon from afar, or the light at the end of the tunnel. Hope is your spirit and spirituality at work. It is that which gets you out of bed in the morning, and allows you to sleep at night.
Hope is always there. Search for your hope.
Open your eyes. Open your hearts.
It is there. I promise you.
Fight for yourself
Fight for some one else.
But by God, keep struggling, keep fighting. Never give up.
Hope is alive inside us all.