Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wednesday poetry

Stanley Kunitz is one of my favorite poets. This one really hit home tonight.

The Layers

By Stanley Kunitz

I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
“Live in the layers,
not on the litter.”
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written,
I am not done with my changes.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Full Moon

Dreaming of feathers and flight,
238,857 miles beneath
cratered satellite,
laying open night's cloak,
revealing every leaf
spinning in tree
as she pulls back
and inward
and through
to dance
before the winter-trance.

Dreaming of flight and feathers,
so many miles beneath
Peary's eternal light.
Sleep dreams colliding with
awake dreams
as waxing breaks through to full.
Full of awakening to your pain,
full of awakening to your voice,
the full cycling round
and round
to new.

*Computer art rendered by Sierra Allen

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Meet "Wild and Precious"

Inspired by the same train of thought that caused me to write the last post, I created "wild and precious"...she's still in process.

Speaking of process sometimes I forget to document it. To me, art is all about process rather than outcome. It's about getting lost in the process, about experimenting with process and not holding onto what you think a piece should be.

Allowing the art to take on a life of it's own frees you from certain disappointment. The images in my head never come out the way I imagine. More importantly, they are living things...beings that help me learn more about what Zen really means. In that spirit, I share today's process:

She began on a 16x20 sheet of 140# watercolor paper. I now remember why I detest 140# paper and long for that luscious 300# instead. After sketching the basic outline I started filling her in with Rembrandt pastel chalks. U2 is playing;

If I could throw this
Lifeless lifeline to the wind
Leave this heart of clay
See you walk, walk away
Into the night
And through the rain
Into the half-light
And through the flame

Detailing with the chalks...bringing in shadow and darkness to bring out the light.

If I could through myself
Set your spirit free
I'd lead your heart away
See you break, break away
Into the light
And to the day

Next is a layer of watercolor to fill in the background colors. I discover that most of the Grumbacher watercolors that belonged to my great-grandmother are completely dried in the tube. I set them aside for cutting open later. I feel a pang of grief for the reminder of her story having been finished.

To let it go! And so fade away
To let it go!
And so fade away
I'm wide awake
I'm wide awake
Wide awake
I'm not sleeping, oh no

Then it's the repeated layering of Neopastels, chalks, pencils and watercolor. I'm also remembering why I adore Rembrandt pastels once again....the pastels my mother purchased for me in high school. Yes, they're over 20 years old and work brilliantly. Another pang of remembrance for another human I miss.

If you should ask then maybe they'd
Tell you what I would say
True colors fly in blue and black
Blue silken sky and burning flag
Colors crash, collide in blood shot eyes

She's finished for today. Walking away is so hard. 140# paper can only handle so much manipulation and water before it's overworked though. Once it's dry I can layer more color and detail in.

This desparation
In temptation

Detail shot of today's finished work. I feel free...a weight lifted. That's what happens when art and words get out. I wonder what happens to people who have art and words and don't get them out. I think I would lose something vital to my existence. This post belies the true process. Because it's filled with tea breaks, fixing food for children, watching someone play a video game, becoming frustrated with color and walking away, going outside to walk the garden briefly and sigh at the mess it's become. Our processes are uniquely our own. A single post can not contain the truth of it all or the multiple songs that played in my art room and in my mind.

Find your with it, whatever it is. In the color and words I find release.

To let it go, oh No
And so fade away
I'm wide awake

Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those, who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear, which is inherent in a human condition” ~~ Graham Greene

Wild and precious....

A one-way ticket to the grave. That's what we all have. I wrote about it at one of my unschooling lists and then the thought really settled in. Parents of younger children often worry about college, worry about what their children are learning, worry, worry. I understand those heartstrings being pulled so tight you want everything to be perfect for your child. I do.

But I no longer relate to the worry. I no longer understand why college matters so much to some people or judging someone on the kind of job they choose to hold. I don't care if my child makes good money or chooses to drive or not. We've got a one-way pass to the grave people. A pass that can be re-called at any time. In the words of Mary Oliver; "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

One wild and precious life. One planet filled with people who don't think like me, places I've never seen or imagined and enough mysteries to keep me enchanted for always. There are miseries we like to look away from, starving children and wars and genocide that render such a helpless feeling. Right here under my feet there is earth to till and above me stars to inspire awe. There are children who need parents and trees that need saving. There is more here than we can take in. And people are worried about college?

The product-driven society in which we live causes people to look for end results. One must graduate with good grades, get into a worthy college and then the carrots just keep being dangled from there. People are looking for measured "success", for those marks that mean you're better than someone else. It's all a big mess of competition with no real end in sight. But the end is there even though it's not about success or grades or that "good" job. The end is death.

Parents worry about college, they worry about grades, they worry about what they're child is learning...forgetting all the while that in the life they've spawned they've also spawned a death. The end result of your parenting is death. The end result of your child's ambitions, of your own is the grave. That's it.

The great part is that realizing this can be incredibly freeing. If death is the final result of all your efforts, of your child's efforts, then why not do the things you truly find exhilarating? Why waste your time worrying about things that don't matter in the bigger scheme? Why choose worry when your wild and precious life is being used up?

It isn't that college is a less worthy choice, it very well may be a choice that is best for someone. The point is that we choose what matters most and with such a wild and wonderful world available, every one of us should be choosing things that make us content, that make us feel whole and inspired. Every one of us should hold that pass to the grave in front of our hearts and minds as the impetus for no-fear. There is but one end result for all of us. But between the time you get handed that pass and the time it is re-called, there are many possibilities....many paths, many outcomes, many stories waiting for us to create them.

For parents, that in-between time can be spent building rich connections with the world around us. As our children travel with us, we can be inspired so they can see what inspired people act like. We can focus on respectful,healthy relationships and being curious about the very community in which we choose to live.

We can choose every single day to approach this gift with awe, to approach ourselves and our own lives with interest. Our children can see what passionate, interesting people look like. I want to fill up my days with good memories, great conversations, laughter, hand-holding, questions and cuddles. Not worry about some imagined future. There is no time for that. My pass might expire at any time and baby, I've got stories to create! How are you using your "one wild and precious life"?