“Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time?” That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future.”
― Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha
Over the July 4th weekend we took our annual trip camping up the McKenzie River here in Oregon. The river has its beginnings at Clear Lake, from springs that immerge from lava tubes at the North end of the lake. It then runs down a steep grade in a series of gorgeous waterfalls & pools before running free. The water is sparkling clear. Being by the McKenzie River is healing, but being on it and part of its energy in our kayaks is akin to a spiritual experience.
I find peace in rivers, especially the McKenzie. They provide inspiration for my art & poetry.
The River Called to Me
With a voice born out of eternity
Fluent in all languages
By my sparkling water
A silver ribbon in a dark forest
“McKenzie Rapid”- Gelatin print & stamps over pen & ink. The feeling of being in the midst of a rapid in a kayak is so exhilarating. I tried to capture the energy here.
The Emperor Penguins of Antarctica group up in the thousands during the breeding season. Once their chicks are juveniles, the adult penguins depart for open water to feed and bring home nutrition. They have this knack, when they’ve returned from their foraging expeditions, of locating their young among a throng of look-alikes, solely by recognizing their chick’s call in a cacophony of penguin noise. Parent penguins have a knack for listening.
As I’ve aged and my other physical faculties are weakening, my inner voice- my intuition is growing much stronger. Like the parent penguins, I’ve learned to recognize it from the din of voices that surround me in my external and internal worlds.
It’s a skill anyone can develop but in our left-brained, modern culture, it’s not valued nor spoken about much. It requires quiet, stillness, and patience. Intuition is an inner voice easily drowned out by messages we receive on a daily basis- live your life like this, look like this, buy this, buy that, your intuitive messages often running counter to them.
Three weeks ago I finished a three piece commission that I labored over for over 2 months. They are three 12 X12 acrylic paintings of the two dogs and one cat of my late Father’s wife, my dear “Ma Penny.” I was pleased with them and so was she.
Completion is a good thing. You’ve put in the time and effort and then you find yourself done! After the initial feeling of euphoria and accomplishment, however, there you are. What now? It can all be a bit disorienting. There is a favorite John Lennon saying I have “It’s better to travel hopefully than to arrive.” What next? Where was I with my own personal trajectory?
Luckily I’ve been in this spot all too many times before. Here is my recipe when you wind up in a “grey zone.”
Don’t panic. Be still.
Write in your journal
Do some cleaning/tidying in the studio.
Look for inspiration from the work of others. Pinterest is my favorite source of visual inspiration.
Do some warm-up exercises- no expectations. Scribble, splash, write lists of words that fascinate. Dedicate them to the gallery of the recycle bin or the collage box.
Eventually, the creative fairies take the bait. Like seagulls when you throw a piece of food to one, another will come until you have a flock of them around you.
I finally came up with the following work (after cleaning out my paper files & filling up my garbage can full of warm-ups…….)
I think it’s important to use one’s gifts and talents to the best of one’s ability in a lifetime. (If you are still not quite sure what they are, go back to what you loved doing when you were five or six years old and go from there.)
I was taking an evening beach walk last week when my two friends, a couple, each pulled out a pair of Zeiss binoculars to look at a bird. “Wow,” I remarked, “Someday I am going to get myself a decent pair of binoculars” as I inspected one of the pairs. Then I stopped and said to myself, “What the hell am I waiting for?”
About 30 years ago on a hike, I had difficulty identifying a bird that my companion easily did. She said “take a look through these” and she handed me an expensive pair of Leica binoculars. There was the bird with its colors and features crisp and crystal clear. I was astounded at the difference between her glasses and my inexpensive pair at the same resolution. “Someday,” I said to myself.
Those excuses…too expensive, too extravagant, too precious, not practical. What bunk. I’m in my mid-sixties. Practicality can only work so long as an excuse. Really, sometimes it’s good to reexamine your longings, take them seriously, then take action.
I got home, did some research and ordered a fabulous pair of high-quality binoculars with all the features I could ever want. They came yesterday. I love them. This morning in bed I watched a Downy Woodpecker at the feeder with my new binoculars. The colors and features of the bird were crisp and crystal clear.
The somedays roll past
Like tumbleweeds on a desert highway
Piling up on fences
The calendar pages turn
“Someday I will…”
I declare longingly to myself
Until I realize there are a limited amount of pages left to turn
I have been pondering what the “it” is after reading a post several weeks back from a fellow blogger. We all wonder at times, what is life really about anyway? I wrote the following poem with how I respond to that question…..
She wanted to know what the “it” was
A fair question to be pondered on a blog
Several commenters responded “YES, YES, where is the It?
It escapes me!
The same question dodged me in my younger years
But with six decades behind me, I know the It
For it is hard to recognize and often takes the passing of time
It can pass right under you like a tsunami in the open ocean
It rains a lot in Western Oregon. Until this weekend it has been a wet few weeks. One can hear a good deal of whining about the weather by this time of year. For me, I just roll with it. Knowing we are having adequate rainfall and an average snowpack provides comfort to me in these times of “climate insecurity.” The lakes will fill, the Salmon will have water to run in and a myriad of creatures and plants will be happy in the dry months yet to come.