Go Inward

a new painting perfect for winter and inward looking. it’s part of a set in my sacred series.

“The doctor may explain why the patient is dead, but never why the patient is alive.” ~Declan Donnellan

Once, tromping through a biodynamic vineyard, Barney explained to me that winter is the time for the energy of the vine to go to the root. The vine that appears dormant above ground is, in fact, actively recharging below the surface. The energy goes inward. The root rejuvenates, drinking in the minerals necessary for the new growth of the coming spring. The fruit of the summer is impossible without the rejuvenation of winter.

We are not so different from the vines though language can trick us into compartmentalizing, perceiving winter as distinct and separate from summer, the inhale as a separate action from the exhale, tides that ebb and then flow. Cycles of life have compartments in study but never in real life. The compartments are made up for the convenience of categorization and conversation.

These past few weeks we’ve been cleaning out our house, going through old boxes and files, shredding old bills, carrying furniture and computer carcasses to the curb. Old clothes are going away. Closets and bins are emptied. The house is beginning to breathe. There is space. Spaciousness. We are laughing at old pictures, sometimes cringing. This day’s new-found spaciousness inspires the next day’s cleaning rampage. It is invigorating. Rejuvenating.

and this is the other half of the set. winter has me looking inward and exploring simplicity in line and space.

Our cleaning tsunami wasn’t planned. Our computer crashed. Our work was interrupted. Our expression was limited. We complained and resisted and then turned our energies elsewhere. Inward. Going through and releasing old stuff, past lives, creating space, is rejuvenating. We are taking our time. We are going slowly. It is oddly restful.

Driving home from our walk in the woods, we laughed at ourselves. Mock-praising our virtuous cleaning, exaggerating and inflating our new found spaciousness to full spiritual illumination, we pretended we’d achieved life beyond wanting, living without yearning. Consciousness beyond compartments. Wiping laughter-tears from her eyes, Kerri said, “Wait! This could be boring! What is life without desiring some red wine while cooking dinner? What about the pleasure of yearning for morning coffee? With all this new found space….”

 

Laugh For Warmth

'The Wind' by David Robinson

‘The Wind’ by David Robinson

Someone threw a switch and it’s winter. There was no gentle drop in temperature, no ease into the cold. Monday was balmy. Tuesday was bitter. Today, the pond is frozen and I am watching the front edge of the snowy season dip its toes into the world. Last night we cut short our usual walk; we were shy a few layers of clothing and feeling was leaving all fingers and toes. We laughed for warmth and walked faster.

Life changes fast. We are reminded of that when tragedy strikes. When death comes to the too young or the fire consumes the neighbor’s house and all their treasures, we say, “Remember how precious this life is! Remember to be more grateful for what we have!”

Sometimes that seems to be the single salient point of tragedy: to make the rest of us stop, remember and appreciate what has real value. And, the moment of appreciation, like all moments, is passing. We get caught again in the dull pull of routine and stop seeing the miracle.

I just entered an art competition (note: isn’t it strange that “art” and “competition” can exist in the same sentence?); the theme is peace (note: isn’t it strange that the theme of a competition could be peace?). In my artist statement I wrote that peace is a practice, not an outcome. It is something people bring to the table, not something negotiated at the table. Conflict is at the core of every story and, therefore, is the engine of movement in every story. That is also true in every life story. We tell stories of enmity and we tell stories of amends and, if we are paying attention, we realize that both are a single story told from a different point of view. The story we tell, like peace, is something we bring to the table, not something we find there.

Flip the switch, stand in the others’ shoes, laugh for warmth and walk faster or simply slow down and feel the cold. Life not only changes fast, it passes fast, too. It seems impossible that I moved here a year ago. It seems like last week. Today, looking out the window as big snowflakes float to the ground, watching the Dog-Dog chase them with great delight and snap them out of the sky, I made a conscious decision to see the miracle and forgo the necessity of a thump to wake me from dullness. This winter is like no other.

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