Attempt What Is Not Certain

Revelry

A painting from the archives. This one goes way back…

“Attempt what is not certain. Certainty may or may not come later. It may then be a valuable delusion.” Richard Diebenkorn, Notes To Myself On Beginning A Painting

Yesterday we went to Linda and Jim’s house to do some Irish dancing. They are terrific and dedicated dancers – with a dance floor in their basement – and thought it would be fun to teach their pals a waltz cotillon. It was, as they suspected, a riot of laughter, wrong-direction, toe-stepping and left-footed-entanglements. We drank wine, ate snacks, and found ourselves boldly waltz-stepping into the great unknown. 20 called it “an afternoon of happy insanity.”

All my life I’ve been fascinated at what happens to (and for) people when they open themselves to new experiences. Generosity rises. When people allow themselves to step outside of their safe-place, challenge their need to control and open to the new, they come alive. I mean that literally. They come into the present moment, out of their obsession with replaying the past and fearing/manipulating the future, and into the place where life actually happens. Now. It is the artist’s job to open the door to the place where life happens. It is the door Linda and Jim opened for us yesterday.

Krishnamurti wrote, “Have you ever noticed that when you respond to something totally, with all your heart, there is very little memory?” Horatio and I have an ongoing conversation about art and artistry. Lately, we’ve been discussing how completely we disappear when working on a canvas. Hours go by and it feels like minutes. And, more to the point, we don’t disappear, we become present. We show up. We experience the fullness of life at the burning point. Time, that grand master of illusion, disappears.

After our dancing, standing in the kitchen with a glass of wine, I heard, “Where did the time go?” We were revitalized and giddy, compatriots and survivors of a journey into the surprises of the unknown. I smiled when there rose a rowdy chorus of, “When can we do it again?” Life had burst through – as it wants to do – and left its charge.

Stop Pretending

666. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

It’s First Thursday in Seattle which means this is the night that artist’s all over town open their studios. My studio is on the fourth floor of a very large building so it is the hearty soul that troops to the top after so many floors of art. Tonight, I forgot that it was First Thursday (I’ve been traveling and am about to leave again so I’m disoriented) and was surprised when Andre showed up at my door to see art. At first I was confused but he explained that many more people were coming up the stairs so I might want to pretend that I knew they were coming. So I did. I opened my door and pretended that I knew what was coming.

While I was pretending that I knew-what-was-coming I started wondering how often in my daily life do I trick myself into thinking that I know what is coming. The answer: most of the time! Isn’t that the very thing that wraps a dull blanket around the magic of being alive? To pretend that we know when, in fact, we can never know what’s coming. To pretend that we know is to stop seeing. To expect the same-old-thing is to miss the extraordinary and new. As I sat in my chair waiting for the hordes to ascend the stairs I realized that I am not a fortuneteller nor am I a prophet, despite my consistent investment in pretending that I am. And, when I stopped pretending that I knew what was coming the most amazing thing happened: I was completely delighted and surprised by every person who made it to the top floor and stopped by to see my paintings. It’s so easy to drop the dull blanket and see what’s in front of me instead of what I pretend is there.