Monday, August 29, 2011

Go Forth and Create!

Friday is my day of creation; a day set aside every week to do nothing but create art. A day to explore new mediums, play with paints and markers and collage. To pick up the guitar when I get stuck, strum a little, sing a few songs. Stare out the window at the mountains, breathe deep, smile inside. Then get back to work, um...or, I mean play. Retired from the work force (for the most part), and dumping cable TV has opened up luscious blocks of time in which to create. For me, painting is play, whereas writing is work and I must set aside ample time for both;  I don't wait for the Muse to appear though she is invited to bring her ideas to the table at any time.

I bought a bunch of 6 x6" canvases and started playing with acrylics and collage. This one is called Conversation with a Tree.

"We have no art," say the Balinese. "We just do everything beautifully." The jewelry making and wood carving and weaving and cooking were not called "art" until the westerner arrived and decided to make it so, thus creating marketable commodities to buy and sell (it figures...).

Imagine being so mindful of everything you do throughout the day that each activity is done artfully, with pleasure and full attention. Why, that one thing could change the world!

A friend once told me, many years ago, that if you want something in your life, you have to create it. You can't wait for others to motivate you; can't sit around and complain about what is lacking in your community. My friend opened up the first health food store in Marquette, Michigan. Then he went on to contribute to the city's fine art community. I've never forgotten what he said; if you have a vision, act on it. Maybe you'll draw other people in, maybe you won't. But you have to do what makes you happy, what creates beauty, what inspires you into a frenzied, passionate state (OK, a calm, passionate state).
My creation this fall will be starting a Women's Art Circle, one Friday a month, to meet with other women and create art. Drawing, painting, knitting, felting, beading, photography... any type of creative endeavor where we can exchange ideas, problem solve, try new mediums, and feed off each other's inspirational energy.

But most of all, we'll laugh. Yep. Laughing is good.

Monday, August 22, 2011

In a Hundred Years...All New People

Like grass, people die away.

If you were told you had only 10 years left to live, what would you do? How would you spend your time? "Spending" time is like spending currency...precious gold. Today I have forever banished the phrase "killing time" from my vocabulary, and will try to "spend" my time more economically. Unfortunately, we usually don't understand this wise use of time until most of it has dwindled away. 

This question of ten remaining years will become a reality to everyone of us, statistically speaking, when we're in our early 70's. Not so far off for many of us.

Our perception of time compresses as we get older. Remember when you were a kid and your next birthday was eons away? Then in early adulthood, the time was still substantial, only less so. But by the time you're fifty and beyond, birthdays click by so fast you sometimes forget how old you are (wow, am I really 58?)and it doesn't have anything to do with how busy you are; elders who no longer inhabit the working world report the same quickening perception of time. Our movement through time appears to speed up significantly as we age. 

Is this due to chemical changes in the brain? A loss of melatonin that makes the brain perceive time in a compressed fashion? Or is it simply because in a child, few memories are built up yet, so he has oodles of time, years upon years, to create them? And when you're older, you recognize the little time you have left and the dreams of future planning begin to diminish.
Chuck Esker proposed this theory about the trajectory of time: When a person is 50 years old and goes through all the experiences during a year, there are not too many things that happen that are new and unique. (Let's face it; much of adult life is repetitive). In fact a year is only equal to 2% of that persons entire life to that point. All future years become a smaller percentage of the life experience. However when a person is five, almost everything is still new and a year is 20% of that persons life at that point.
So at 50 years of age, a year is equal to 2% of a life, and time flies; but at 5 years of age, the same year is equal to 20% of a life, and time drags.

Time is a construct. A continuum whereby we track the events of our lives. Before time, man tracked activity by the seasons, an organic evolution of events without number, without comparison, without conscious thought. Death then was nothing more than a completion of a cycle; people were not "outraged" by it, or think it shouldn't happen. I imagine it was such an ingrained part of life that there was no separation or angst about it whatsoever. No fighting it off; no praying for things to be different. It just is, as natural and normal as birth itself.

Back to our original question. Here's how George Bernard Shaw summed it up:
I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live.  I rejoice in life for its own sake.  Life is no brief candle for me.  It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.  Thirty years ago, when a huge enchanting future lay before me, I remember thinking "I'd rather burn out than rust out." (from Mick Jagger, or maybe Neil Young?). Now that I'm on the other side of fifty, rusting out is just fine by me.  Maybe I can slow things down a bit by learning something new each day?
These are the types of questions my friends and I perused at our recent college girl's reunion. What would happen if we just stopped paying any attention to our ages and birthdays? Just let the time go and forget how old we are; what would that feel like? Would it slow things down a little? 
Lindy's answer: "Will we still get presents? We'll still get presents, won't we? When I die, you can cut me in half and count my rings, but we'll still get presents, won't we?"

Hahaha!  Now, seriously girls.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Under a Lake Superior Sun

On a quiet county road
a woman sells vegetables and red elderberry jam
She rolls down her awning as lightening splits the sky and
rain pounds down in sheets.

Logging trucks thunder in slick dirt tracks
lumbering across iron-stained streams
"In the boonies..."
"we're in the sticks"
my midwest nomenclature returns.

Tracks of old growth forest,
maple, hemlock, oak
surround our old cottage where
the smell of pine and the wired hum of cicadas
sting the air.

Out back, rotted firewood is stacked
Moored in the beach grass a wooden boat sleeps,
worn by wind and weather.

Should we sell the white sands
at Happy Landing
Where there is no nonsense,
no fast foods and
no new thing under the sun?

Post script: This poem was inspired by our current travels across my birth state of Michigan where we are headed for a family reunion in Flint, and a college girl's reunion in Ludington. As we pass through small towns on the great Superior Lake, I find myself muttering, "ah...I could live here...". It is so much like Alaska, minus the mountains.

Over the years, I have developed a great affinity for the southwest, especially Taos, New Mexico, a place I dearly love and visit periodically. I've heard myself mutter, "I could live here" while is such a beautiful place with a special artful energy. But this trip has brought back so many memories. Though wanderlust could be my second name, maybe at heart I'll always be a northern girl.

Have you ever imagined living somewhere else at another time in your life? How does landscape and a sense of place color your thoughts on where and how you want to live?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
Location: Upper Peninsula, Michigan