I have found that difficult situations can often yield positive, unexpected results. The moment I first realized that “things happen for a reason” was when I was fifteen years old and enrolled in basic art class. I scoffed at the idea of having to be in “basic” art. Nevertheless, I made the best of the situation. One of the assignments, the “altered book” project, proved to be quite challenging. Despite my frustrations, this project more than any other confirmed my enthusiasm for both art making and synchronicity.

I chose to work with an old physical science book. While pondering what to make of the book, the light bulb above me went out. Being a quick thinker, I unscrewed the light bulb and devised my plan of attack. Over the next several weeks I drilled a hole in the binding of the book just big enough for the light bulb to screw into. I collected wires forming them into the names of all the things which are important in my life. The list included family, friends, horses, art, and video. I sculpted and glued the pages to arch up as the book lay open. After splatter painting the pages and wiring the wires from the outside of the book to the center where the hole was drilled, there was only one intrinsic asset to finish. I carefully painted my own face onto the smooth surface of the light bulb.

On the evening before the project was due as I turned to pull my chair closer I accidentally knocked the light bulb to the floor. In slow motion, it shattered into millions of pieces. My eyes grew large and watery. What had I done?

I reached down to pick up the largest piece of glass. Of this entire light bulb, which had splintered into countless pieces, the painting of my face remained untouched. I grabbed the stem of the light bulb and scraped up some of the broken glass pieces. Then I carefully glued all the tiny pieces to the surface of the book amidst the mess of wires and words. Finished, I absorbed what I had created. It was me; electrified and broken down in the craziness that makes up my life. Yet, I’m smiling—a trait of mine which seems to never cease.

In reflection this moment seems very petty, however, at the time it made quite an impact on me and the thought process I have today. David Richo, author of The Power of Coincidence: How Life Shows Us What We Need to Know, states, “We do not create our destiny; we participate in its unfolding. Synchronicity works as a catalyst toward the working out of that destiny.” At the moment I broke the light bulb, I really could not give a damn as to why it happened because I was too preoccupied wishing it had not. However, I pride myself, even years later, in the fact that I picked up the pieces. If I had not broken the light bulb or reworked my project, I would have never come to understand how all of these elements that make up my life truly bring me great happiness. The chaotic nature of loving so many things might break me down from time to time but in the end it also defines so much of my identity.

While I never envisioned my piece to look the way it did when completed, I also never dreamed it would make it to the “Top 18” at the Michigan Youth Arts Festival. Receiving such a high award in the aftermath of a moment of self-discovering solidified the fact that things really do happen for a reason. Becoming aware of what I was learning about myself was the beginning of a lifetime of reflection and appreciation. Sometimes seeing the perfection of every moment comes after you string all the pieces of light together.

– Amanda Trudell | College for Creative Studies