Thursday, December 31, 2009

A look back over the past decade brings wisdom for the future

By Kim Evans
From the Herald-Times, December 31, 2009

Today, we find ourselves on the cusp of a new year and a new decade, a significant time to write a column. This calls for another visit with The Fortune Teller.

Her parlor smells of lavender and mint. The curtains are pulled over the windows for now, so we can focus on the task at hand. She gently places her crystal ball on the table. She is glad to be back, eager to reveal messages that may be helpful at this time.

“What is your question?” she asks.

I think for a moment, then say, “what do my readers and I need to know as we enter this new decade?”

She nods and centers herself, then begins moving her hands over the mysterious orb. I notice a new ring on her hand. She winks. A gift from a loved one.

The fog inside the crystal ball begins to clear, revealing a scene from Australia’s Sydney Harbor. I recognize this scene: the millennium celebration on New Year’s Eve, 1999. A gigantic smiling face on the Harbor Bridge, lit up, winking beneath fireworks shooting endlessly into the night sky.

“This decade began with a peculiar mix of hope and fear,” she says. “We were full of hope with the coming of the new millennium, yet we were so afraid of the unknown, embodied in the Y2K scare, which never materialized.”

Sydney and the fireworks fade away, and a new scene is revealed from beneath the Fortune Teller’s hands. Under a bright blue sky over Manhattan, the airplane crashes into one of the World Trade Center towers.

“This is how our fear was manifested,” she says. “In the absence of solid leadership, our nation spent the next seven years scrambling and fumbling in the shock waves.”

She cups her hands around the ball again. The scene changes to the mall in Washington, D.C., on a frigid day, filled with masses of people. Barack Obama stands at the podium, preparing to give his inauguration speech.

“Here is where hope made its return,” she says. “The final year of this decade began with a similar mixture of hope and fear as did the decade as a whole.”

The Fortune Teller relates this to her own life. She sadly recalls a recent gathering in which a family member turned her back on her because of their differing political beliefs. This had never happened before. In spite of differences, politics had never caused a rift like this in her family.

She redirects her attention back to the crystal ball as it reveals a final scene. The Grand Canyon, seen from above in all its vastness. A beautiful, undeniable split in the earth. We pan right down into the split, revealing layers of complexity on either side.

“There is wisdom in this complexity,” says the Fortune Teller. “We are living the split right now. Rather than fighting it and feeling hostile toward the other side, we need to explore its complexity. Difference can be seen as a gift. We need to put our fear aside and seek understanding. I challenge you to go to the person most different from you and begin a conversation.”

I notice my resistance to this challenge. To be honest, I’d prefer to wait for the “other side” to approach me first. This is something to think about.

I thank the Fortune Teller for her messages and weave them into my intentions for the coming year.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Seasonal rituals and objects transcend the moment, open the heart

By Kim Evans

As I sit nestled on my living room sofa, I glance at our Christmas tree and think about how every tree tells a story.

We cut this tree on our annual pilgrimage to Fowler’s Tree Farm, where we have found our tree almost every year since I was a girl. Each time I set foot on this particular piece of land, I remember myself at age 8 in my orange flowered coat with the fur-lined hood, hiking on the hill that overlooked many magical acres of Christmas trees in their natural form.

Early in our marriage, my husband and I were opposed to the idea of killing a tree just for use as a decoration in our home. So we went to the tree farm and pulled what I recall was a large branch off a brush pile. The proprietor let us take that one home for free. The following year, I came to the conclusion that Christmas trees on a farm were planted with the intention of being cut, therefore I wasn’t violating any laws of nature. I am glad I allowed myself that process, because it’s no good kicking off the holiday season with a sense of guilt.

Last weekend we joined my mom and dad and went to Fowler’s again. I was sad to learn that owner Harry Fowler had passed away earlier in the year at the age of 93. With this reminder of how quickly time passes, I wonder if my daughter will continue enjoying the tradition of visiting the tree farm as she grows into her teen years. So far I see no signs of her enthusiasm waning, and I value the significance of the shared experience with her grandparents – a special bridge between three generations.

I look at our tree again, now decorated and glittering with lights. I could write an entire story about the ornaments alone. There’s the God’s eye I made in kindergarten, a simple decoration formed by criss-crossing two twigs with yarn woven around in a diamond pattern, forming a bright orange “eye” at the center. There’s also the pine cone I spray-painted and sprinkled with glitter that same year. I’m so glad my mom saved these treasures for me.

I see the white star from Olivia’s first year in preschool, colored by her small hand with blue marker and garnished with gold glitter.

I see the small scroll of sheet music for “Silent Night” hanging from a low branch, a gift from one of my husband’s students during his band directing years.

My favorite ornaments are the ceramic Rudolph, Clarice, and King Moonracer purchased in 1999 at the Morgantown IGA. Each year I pull these boxes out of our ornament bin, slightly more tattered than the year before, I remember our home in Morgantown and the transitional years we spent there.

Seasonal rituals and objects contain keys to our history, and holding them opens up a part of our heart that transcends the moment. This is a real piece of magic, a wonderful gift, if we slow down enough to notice.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Communication needed to find affordable rates for Waldron Arts Center

By Kim Evans

December 3, 2009 The Herald-Times, Bloomington, IN

Maybe I’m clairvoyant.

A few nights ago, I dreamt of jumping from a very high place into a body of water. I was airborne for quite awhile, which gave me plenty of time to wonder how much it was going to hurt once I hit the water.

The very next day, I took my daughter to see a movie with a scene eerily similar to my dream, shown from the perspective of the lead character as she dove off a high cliff into the waters of the Pacific Northwest.

So let’s entertain the idea that I am clairvoyant, a fortune-teller who sees past, present and future.

This fortune-teller now places her crystal ball on the table. She moves her hands over the ball in circular motion. A mist forms inside. She is transported back to 1993, the date of her wedding. The setting is the John Waldron Arts Center. Hers is one of the first weddings to be held in this space after its renovation. Show tunes from “West Side Story” are played by a brass band as the guests are seated. She walks down the aisle and stands at the altar facing her husband to be.

Afterwards, the happy bride and groom descend the stairwell and make their way through the joyous crowd to the limo waiting outside on Walnut Street.

The scene fades out as a new vision emerges within the crystal ball. It is 2006, and there is an 8-year-old girl in costume performing on the very same stage where her parents were married 13 years earlier. The fortune teller unmistakably recognizes this is her daughter portraying Chip, the teacup in the musical “Beauty and the Beast,” a performance by a local children’s theater group. The fortune teller sees herself and her husband watching the performance, caught up in the pride and synchronicity of the moment.

Next, the crystal ball reveals a more recent scene where the fortune teller sees herself again enjoying a performance at the Waldron Auditorium, a night out with friends at Cardinal Stage Company’s performance of “Boom.” The stage design is perfect for the space, the acting is superb, and she is reminded why she loves Bloomington so much.

She prompts her crystal ball for more visions. The mist once again swirls and reveals a scene in which someone is throwing many years’ worth of theater costumes into a dumpster. Conference tables and chairs fill the space left empty by the removal of the costumes. Bloomington Area Arts Council leaders are scratching their heads over financial spreadsheets. Headlines in The Herald-Times reveal that the BAAC have raised their rates well beyond the point of affordability for our local performing arts groups, therefore cutting them out of their very own market.

The fortune-teller is anxious now as she feels the opportunity for more fond memories at this local theater venue fading away. In a panic, she asks the crystal ball for one more vision, one of the future that shows how this situation will be resolved.

The mist swirls and swirls, and finally, a scene is revealed. The BAAC leaders, realizing they have acted rashly out of a sense of panic about finances, extend an invitation into meaningful communication with the very groups who have a vested history and interest in the Waldron’s performing arts venues.

Through a series of meetings, a win-win situation emerges. The fortune-teller is relieved that fairness prevailed.

Kim Evans is a Bloomington native and IU graduate who moved back to Bloomington in 2005 to open her graphic design studio, raise her family and circle back to her writing. She can be reached at