Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Maxfield Parrish Morning

I looked out the window this morning as I was drinking my coffee, and we had what my husband likes to call a Maxfield Parrish sky.  Parrish, an artist who painted in the early 1900s, captured the beautiful morning and evening cloud formations you see in Vermont and New Hampshire; great white thunderheads tinged with pink and gold against a dark blue sky...

We don't get thunderstorms here, so it's rare to get those sky formations.  And watching the clouds roll in (in fact, they turned out to be the tip of some sort of front, and now the sky is all solid winter gray) I found myself itching to go back to New England.  Which is a good thing, because my daughter and I will actually be going back to Vermont in about two weeks.

But, given my itch to wander, I decided to do another walking meditation this morning -- again, just down to the end of the street, up to the top of the hill (where I stand a minute to catch my breath, and imagine giant statues of Buddha and Jesus smiling at me from within the trees across the road) and back.  I'm partly doing this because my back is still stiff from my Wednesday Pilates class, partly because I need to lose the last couple of pounds I gained at camp, partly because I'm still reading Jack Kornfield's book, "A Path With Heart" and he's talking this morning about the importance of body awareness, and partly in tribute to my neighbor's daily walk and the loss of their son.

But mostly I'm doing it because my meditations have been kind of shallow lately. I've been easily distracted, not very centered, not very focused.  The main reason I have a designated chair to meditate in is to facilitate that deepening, but that doesn't seem to be helping right now.  So I figure, if I'm not going to be focused anyway, then I might as well be walking; maybe the rhythm will help center me.

Part of the challenge for me in walking meditation is that I deliberately do NOT take my camera.  Which is tricky, because this is a beautiful place: I make a new calendar every year of the photos I take driving up and down my street (I always keep the camera in the car, because you never know what you might see!)  So there I am, walking down the street, and the sky is lit so beautifully, and the clouds are so dark, and the boats are so white against the dark lagoon, and all I can do is look and appreciate.

The tension that creates -- admiring, and not photographing -- reminded me of/taught me/showed me a lot this morning.  It taught me how enchanted -- and easily distracted! -- I am by beauty; how that response is so intense it's actually physical.  It taught me how much I want to share what I see, and how fleeting those moments of perfect light can be.  I began to see how quickly I move from awe to capture, from appreciation to acquisition, and how acquisition is tinged with a need for approval and acceptance.  It taught me how quickly I pass from present into future, from appreciating to imagining.  And now I am trying to love myself in spite of those things; trying to find some value in that way of being while at the same time encouraging myself to stay more present.

By the time I was back home -- an hour or so later, because I stopped to water my neighbor's garden -- the clouds were rolling in and the light was gone.  And so I attempted to recreate it by playing with one of my images from Fort Worden.  There were lots of stops along the way between the original (which you'll see at left, on the poetry blog for today when I get around to writing it) and here, but this one feels like where things were going -- at least for today.  You'll notice -- I just pulled the wounded part of the image right off the page; just didn't want to go there.

The resulting piece has, though none of the definition or art nouveau charm, some of the colors of a Maxfield Parrish painting.  And that will just have to do.

For now.

1 comment:

Maureen said...

To come to so many insights about yourself while walking. . .

Lovely post.