Cut and Paste

Words self-selected themselves off the page for me. I drew black boxes around the phrase “End being broken and washed” and added the word “UP” to the end of that sentence. This is how I make a new life for myself. I don’t hem and haw over the proper selections. It is a quick in and out. It feels like ease. It takes a lot of trust.
— Mandy Steward

by Mandy Steward

It was an overnight getaway and I took a magazine. Not because I wanted to read it, but because I wanted to purge it. When I devour magazines, which happens so rarely, I devour them quickly and with great intuition: There are secret messages lurking inside these pages, and when I see them I will know and I will cut them out. 

It is a quick in and out. I take just what I need. Less is more. I wouldn’t want to complicate things or belabor the task. It feels like ease. It takes a lot of trust. 

And then the magazine goes in the bin, where it can be recycled and made into some new secret message for someone else on some other day. This is none of my business.

Typically I don’t carry the loose cut-outs around with me. Typically I take to pasting them immediately. This particular day didn’t have a window of time large enough to include a glue stick, and so I tucked the bits of paper into the deep recesses of my altered book entitled, The Great Events by Famous Historians, saving them for another day. 

Last night, a month and a half after my scissors had their way with that magazine, I pulled my heavy art journal out of its resting place and opened it and watched all those magic secrets fall out. Having used a different journal for the past month and a half, I had totally forgotten about these snippets, but as they haphazardly spread out on my art table before me I found a certain satisfaction in calling them seeds. 

I recalled a conversation with my son just before I put him to bed where he asked me, “Are we called human beans?” We had a good laugh as we talked about be-ings vs. beans, but staring at this hodge podge of words and color, I kept thinking “beans.” Magic beans. Jack and the Beanstalk beans. 

So much has changed in a short month and a half. You know how it is. Time morphs a person. Time morphs a life. What these words seeds meant at the time of selection, I cannot recall, but they were already sprouting little tufts of a new life I had not anticipated for myself back then. 

I opened to a new page in my history book. We write history in the present, we magic makers. We say this is the life I would love to some day tell stories about, and we call it into being with a sharpie marker and a glue stick. 

I started glueing without effort, grabbing pretty things, colorful things. Words self-selected themselves off the page for me. I drew black boxes around the phrase “End being broken and washed” and added the word “UP” to the end of that sentence. This is how I make a new life for myself. I don’t hem and haw over the proper selections. It is a quick in and out. It feels like ease. It takes a lot of trust. 

I circled the word exposure, recognizing my immense Leo propensity towards living out loud, after a long season of cocooning. 

I glued down words from an interview with Rihanna: “I have more freedom the more people know about me.” I felt the surge of excitement that one feels when they are responsible for shifting the future. 

More glue. More blocks of color go down on the page. Something is happening on a cellular level. I get the sense I am not just working on the page, but I am manipulating my own body make-up like a Rubik’s cube. If this goes here, then this can go here, and then, why, oh my gawd, do you see that? Anything is possible. I frame the words with ink pen - “There is reason to believe in the fire,” and then write them again bolder, more pronounced along the passionate woman’s cheekbone, so she and I both won’t forget that “we’ve got the fire and it’s burning one helluva something.”

I am taking sproutlings and giving them rich soil. I am seeing to it that my soul has new secret gardens to twirl in. “My Light—It’s Kind of Personal” gets juxtaposed over the yellow ball of fire, and as the smile literally spreads across my face, the words, “and you smiled because you knew” get stuck in time to a page that feels like a treasure map where X marks the spot and I am making a point to allow myself joy in the unknown. 

I am standing here, tucking magic beans into rich dark expanse and it feels like awakening. It is a quick in and out. I wouldn’t want to complicate things or belabor the task. It feels like ease. It takes a lot of trust. 

When you mix fire with the cold ground of winter, you become melting snow. You become the thaw of Spring. You become dead overgrowth burned away. I am softening my own ground. Readying my land. Imagining kingdoms not yet explored. This is my magic expedition. It is too early on to know particulars. Don’t ask me the names of my plants or what the harvest will yield. I am cutting and pasting a new way. I have great faith.

*Bits of collage taken from Elle Magazine.


About Mandy Steward

Mandy Steward is an artist and author of Thrashing About With God: Finding Faith on the Other Side of Everything. She blogs her messes at MandySteward.com. She also creates custom painted and inked Secret Messages, self-publishes a subscription based ‘Zine of gypsy journalism, and co-creates a way to to keep her faith alive via The Wild Mystics. She finally has a Self and finds that breathtaking.