About 10 or 15 years ago I was with my dad at an amusement park and (despite my lifelong aversion to roller coasters) I let him talk me into a loop-d-loop thing where you hang upside down and flip around till you want to puke a life's worth of living. I was not certain that I'd die there in loop-d-loop hell, but I felt closer to it than even that time I spun out in 360s on an icy road south of Boston. The third time I saw the traffic behind me through my windshield, I remembered to take my foot off the brake and drive out of the spin.
On the loop-d-loop thing, I had no control at all. Totally captive and trying to be a good sport for my dad, who really wanted to ride the coaster with his oldest kid, I squeezed my eyes shut and prayed that my dad wouldn't see what a complete scaredy cat I was.The ride started up terrifying loud. My feet dangled free so I crossed my ankles and pressed my thighs to the seat. And to completely divorce myself from near-certain disaster, I started singing that thing I'd done countless times in my life on clarinet and oboe and piano and ear training classes: arpeggios and scales. Do me sol ti do ti sol me do. Re fa la di re di la fa re.
I don't know how many keys I went through, but by the time we landed I'd discovered that when the world turns terrifyingly upside down and threatens the bejesus out of me, when I cannot control a damn thing, when the previous force of comfort insists on pulling the rug out from under me and throwing me up into the air, there's still solace somewhere in that deep visceral place, where color and sound connect.
So bring on the poetry.
Bring on the paint.
Bring on the words and dances and trumpets and violins.
Bring on the songs, the flavors, the light and shadows.
Bring on the humanity that hearkens back to cave paintings, and fire pits, and tales of wolves and glass slippers.
Bring on the session players at the corner table of Timmy Nolans and The Burren.
Bring on MOMA and the lights of LACMA, and the Guggenheim's long ramp through Picasso.
Bring on Patty Smith, Robert Mapplethorpe, Cindy Sherman.
Bring on the Cure and the Civil Wars and Judy Collins.
Bring on Kara Walker, Richard Serra, Robert Smithson, Kiki Smith.
Bring on paper, water, pens, dye, needles, thread, cantaloupe, basil,