Today’s dazzlingly colorful crochet mandalas for the Mandalas for Marinke remembrance project come to us from Ana Sudy in Chile. In case you’re just tuning in, Mandalas for Marinke is a project that honors the life and work of Marinke Slump who died by suicide this past summer. The work raises awareness about depression and suicide while carrying on the beautiful legacy of her creativity and crochet patterns. Ana used two of Wink’s crochet patterns to make the lovely mandalas that you see here today.
For today’s depression awareness portion of the project, I wanted to share something I recently read, which Alysia Abbott wrote in her memoir, Fairyland. This book is the true story of a young girl growing up in 1970s/80s San Francisco as the only child of a gay father (single parent). He was a writer and editor in the literary scene here, and he died of AIDS in the early 1990s. It’s a moving story in so, so many ways and it really resonates with the heartbeat of the city’s history. Powerful read.
What is relevant here is that Alysia met many, many famous writers because as her father’s only child she went to lots of events where she was often the only young person in a crowd of adults, where they conversed around her and with her and she knew them in a way that the rest of the world perhaps didn’t because of her unique perspective as a child in their midst. One of those writers was Richard Brautigan.
Alysia recalls a beautiful memory of how her father took her with him to The International Poetry Festival in Amsterdam, and she took her camera to have something to do while all of the adults talked poetry. She shares how Brautigan, getting drunker and drunker, was enchanted with her because she reminded him of his estranged daughter, how he talked to her, and she took his photograph.
And then at the end of the chapter, she writes:
“A year after Dad and I returned to San Francisco, I found a picture of Richard Brautigan in our morning paper. He’d killed himself with a .44 Magnum in his home in Bolinas, California. No one knew the exact date of his death. His decomposed body was found on the floor in front of a large window overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Next to him a suicide note read simply, “Messy, isn’t it?”
If you do some research into the author, you learn that he had a history of depression and mental health issues, that he was treated with ECT that he struggled with alcoholism and that this death note is rather infamous in celebrity history.
But it struck me as a passage in this book for another reason. And that’s that he probably never knew the impact that the meeting would have on little Alysia, that she would remember it, recall it over the years, write about it later. It’s not that it’s a huge part of her story, but it’s a part nonetheless. We simply do not know how the small chance conversations that we have, the way we drunkenly converse at parties or laugh into a photograph can stick in someone else’s world and become a part of their story. Wink, sadly, doesn’t know about the Mandalas for Marinke project, and she may not ever have realized the extent to which she impacted all of us with her work, but she did nonetheless.
The impact that we have is unknowable. And so, when you get that feeling that nothing that you do matters at all, try to remember that everything you’ve ever done has a ripple effect in the world and there’s simply know way for you to know or judge the value of your contribution to the bigger project.