We lost friends, colleagues, and young leaders last month. While knowing the inevitable, we're never quite prepared to say the last goodbye. I lost my attorney to brain cancer last month. While I respected and trusted him as a professional to handle business and personal concerns, I also considered him a friend who cared about my wellbeing. He had tried to help me prepare for the inevitable by "having my affairs in order," but I wasn't prepared to lose his counsel. Death plays no favorites, as the community also grieved the loss of teenagers and young adults who left us too soon. As friends, relatives, and sympathetic neighbors, our hearts are saddened by loss.
Why am I writing this in Arts Alive! magazine? It's through art, I've learned, that we can best express our feelings. Whether through visual or performing art, song, or written word, comfort can be found. Inspiration for music, paintings, sculpture, poetry, or dance usually originates from some personal event. Through tragedy, heartache, and pain, the most beautiful works of art are created. Performers are able to put their soul into the play or opera again and again by losing themselves emotionally in the story. We can become mesmerized by art on canvas, while tears flow down our cheeks when listening to the words of a song. We "connect" with the artist and songwriter-even generations later. The desire to know and be known is part of the beauty of human nature. When practical answers don't satisfy, meaning can be found in the beauty of art.
I attended a poetry reading last month honoring one of my mentors, Byron DeHaan. When introducing Byron, Illinois Poet Laureate Kevin Stein said that when he reads poetry, music must be played in a room surrounded by art. Indeed, those elements were present in the historic Easton-Converse Mansion, where the event was hosted. Stein read a few of Byron's poems from his book, Breviary, as did Jim Sullivan, assistant professor of English at Illinois Central College. Byron was a student of both. Reaction to the poems ranged from laughter and tears to nods of understanding, as was hoped by the variety of topics found in his collection. At the close of the reading, Byron delighted the audience by singing the last few lines of his poem, "Gather by the River." What a wonderful gift to find this artistic outlet after retiring from Caterpillar.
Though not a singer, painter, or dancer, I've found peace through writing. Through individual expression, we find contentment-even though answers to life's mysteries cannot be solved. Through art, we find peace. My hope is that readers of Arts Alive! will chose an artistic outlet to comfort them. AA!