Friday, April 29, 2016

Truth found in ambiguity


If only we could learn to live with ambiguity:
the flower, whose bloom thrusts through the asphalt;
the still sweetness of dawn after a night of storms;
the love that only can emerge after another love's been lost;
the painting that might be a sheep,
or perhaps a foaming glass of beer --
to understand that nothing's either all bad or all good:
that is the beginning of truth.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Behind the bright


There's so much going on
behind what we think we see --
be careful not to leap to assumptions...

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The gentle sparkle of now


We know chances are good 
there'll be some rough weather ahead.
Let's appreciate the gentle sparkle of now...

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Even the smallest flower


Even the smallest flower
can bring joy and light into the world...

Monday, April 25, 2016

Strength in commonality


In the end, I believe, our survival will depend
on our ability to comprehend, not our differences,
but how much we are alike.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Now is wonderful, too

We moved about a year ago, and this is part of the view we left behind. We knew at the time it was the right thing to do: the kids were grown, the taxes were high, and all our savings were tied up in the house.  I was desperate for a studio, and we knew we wanted to live closer to town.

So we hunted and hunted -- for over a year -- for a home we could imagine living in; for something so close to right for us that we could bear to part with this view.  When we found our next home (and we knew it as soon as we saw it) it came as a surprise: not a shingled beach cottage, but a log cabin in the woods.

It was lovely in its way: a beautiful park-like setting with a graciously rustic interior and a glorious studio, and very close to town so we knew we could make it work.  But what about the light? All those tall cedars meant no more sunsets, no more moonrises... no real way of knowing til the middle of the day whether it was actually a sunny day or not. Would we regret our choice in the dead of winter?

Now a year has passed, and I'm browsing through my photos to see what to publish today, and this one sings to me.  So I have to ask: is this a song of regret? I can't deny that this photo makes me ache a bit for what we left behind.  And I must admit that there were days -- in the rainiest winter on record here -- when I desperately missed the light we had before.

But now is now, and we've been happy here.  It's a new life, to be sure, but we're building it together; finding shared interests, becoming more interdependent, and filling the house with friends and love. So when I look at this photo I smile, because that was then, and it was wonderful: we were lucky to live that life.  But now is wonderful, too, in its own way; full of joy and creativity -- and so it's without regret that we can smile upon the past.  We're in a new phase now, and it's all good.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

A work in progress

I've been struggling with this painting for over a week now, and I realized this morning that it has a lot to teach me.

It is, and I am -- as are we all -- a work in progress. There are parts I really like, and parts that just don't work.  It doesn't seem to have a coherent whole, but I really struggle when I start to paint over stuff: I worry I'll risk losing something that actually works, and won't find something better to take its place.

And part of the problem is that it's a do-over: like me, it has a history, and has shown some very different faces in its previous lives.  You can paint over that old stuff, but it still has a way of showing through, and the textures of the old life still exert their pull upon the new.

As any artist knows, this process, of finding and bringing out the art that was meant to be, can be very tedious -- and some things take so long you just want to give up and start all over.

But with this one, I set myself a challenge: I really wanted to find my own voice; to not look to the work of other artists to set the tone, or the composition, but to actually unearth it on my own.  Which means, of course, that in the process, with these repeated failures to redeem the canvas, I can't help but get discouraged and wonder if in fact I have no gift, no vision of my own.

Somehow it helps to step back and realize it's not unlike my life: there are times when everything seems to fall into place, and I know I'm on the right track, and then there are those other times,  when nothing's going the way I want it to, and I begin to wonder what on earth made me I could pull this off; when I want to crawl in a cave and hibernate until things are clear again.

But I made myself a promise: that I wouldn't start another painting until I finished this one -- maybe not to perfection, but at least to satisfaction.  Not that I'll power through, but that I'll sit with it and learn; that somehow I'll find a way to redeem the time and work that I've put in. I just have to trust that somehow in the process of living with my failures I'll find a way to integrate them into something that works.

Right now I'm not feeling all that optimistic.