With Everything On It

“Go, ahead, honey,” Heather told Missy. “Show him your card.”

Eagerly, Missy reached out and handed me her latest creation. The sheet of computer paper that it had once been could barely be seen. From corner to corner and edge to edge of the page stretched a sea of foam stickers – no, a wave of them, piled high and crammed tight.

Valentine’s Day had already come and gone, so Missy had grabbed for the package of Easter “foamies” instead and applied it generously. Squadrons of rabbits squeezed for room among armies of eggs and forests of grass. Somewhere beneath, a magazine page had been glued to the page, its image all but invisible beneath the huddled masses.

It was the finest example of Everything Art that I had ever seen.

Our disabled ward Missy, who is my age physically but often much younger in spirit, likes to express herself in a number of media. She’ll paint like it’s going out of style and slice up pictures for her collages until no magazine in the house is safe. But the quintessential Missy artistic style may be “Everything Art”: cram the page with everything you can reach that will stick to it, until the picture you’re creating has nearly become a sculpture.

Everything Art is somewhat tricky to display. Because many of the pieces are stuck to other pieces rather than to the page, hanging it on the wall means some of it may begin to slide and fall. Lying it on a flat surface has a better survival rate, but even so, Everything Art has an ephemeral nature akin to ice sculpture or painting with light – the beauty you see today is not guaranteed to last, so study it well while you have it.

Fragile. Unusual. Undeniably drawing the eye. And most of all, enthusiastic with absolutely nothing held back.

Oh, yes. This couldn’t be more Missy if it tried.

As regular readers may remember, Missy tends to approach life without filters. A bite of a delicious dessert may raise a cheer that echoes across a restaurant. Music exists to be turned up to 11, or even 15. Her smile lights a room as easily as her temper can shake it, and new discoveries produce a lot of excited conversations afterward –with or without words.

Yes, she can be quiet, even stealthy when she has mischief in mind. But even then, she’s fully engaged, just in a different way. She wears herself openly and she gives what she has to everything she does, whether it’s dancing with hands high in the air or waiting at her favorite bay window for someone’s return.

It’s life as Everything Art.

Most of us have learned to hold back a bit. Sometimes to keep from exhausting ourselves too soon. Sometimes out of concern what others might say. There are many good reasons and many less-good ones, some arising from forethought, some from fear or remembered pain.

But every day, Missy reminds me how good it can be to release the restraints. Not to hurt or overwhelm someone else, but just to honestly engage with the world, in joy and wonder and curiosity.

To let down the barriers and see what’s beyond the wall.

To live.

Sure, there’s a place for care and caution. But living under guard can be tiring. As the old words go, there’s a time for every purpose under heaven – and that includes a time to let go and dive in.

Because sometimes, life is too short not to grab all the foamies.

 

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