“How are we all so brave as to take step after step? Day after day? How are we so optimistic, so careful not to trip and yet do trip, and then get up and say O.K. Why do I feel so sorry for everyone and so proud?” ~Maira Kalman, The Principles of Uncertainty (2007)
It is a great dream of mine to have tea with Maira Kalman. In silence or speaking. In a chair or standing up. A mug or a cup. I don’t care.
If you don’t know her, how can I describe her? She is an artist, illustrator, writer, photographer, New Yorker, mother of two, philosopher, walker…a non-pretentious, creative genious.
Through words and pictures, she documents what she sees and feels in order to make sense of the world.
She documents the heartbreaking stuff of life, but never at the expense of all that is good.
She reflects back to us what we all know intuitively, and what I learned as a child when there was an illness or death close by, that there is very little that is not helped with a cup of tea and cake, companionship and keeping busy. I didn’t recognize it at the time, but my mother and grandmother always kept things moving–baking, cooking, cleaning, lovingly taking care of the business of life–to make things better. And it did. Make things better.
In Kalman’s art, as in life, one can suffer a tragedy and find courage and joy in books and flowers and music. One thing leads to another, and Kalman connects the dots.
On this bleak January day, a few inspiring words from Maira Kalman about writing, drawing, books, dealing with our own mortality:
I may never meet this wonderful woman in person. But I have her books, and I keep them close.
And so, I have enough (usually).