Thursday, September 29, 2011

Echoes Fell from the Temple Walls

Echoes Fell from the Temple Walls

The blindingly bright sun at my back, I stood at the threshold. Like some Raider of emotional Covenants, I paused and listened for sounds of the past revelries, sounds of forgotten treasures growing more valuable every decade, sounds of the last breaths breathed within these walls finally being released to the outside.

When the sounds did not come, I forced my body into a paralysis of expectation. Still, the sounds of history could not be heard. Remembering all the books, all the legends, all the mythic attempts to create epics from fragments, I inhaled slowly the scent of possibility, held it to the count of an imaginary drum, and exhaled forward knowledge into the past.

At first, the rumble could only be felt, not heard. Then came the great roar of stones grating against one another and the microscopic crack of sunlight near the ceiling. Blinking ecstatically, I could barely hold my soul within my skin.

My eyes began to focus around the motes of dust sparkling in that glimmer of light, and my excitement imploded into itself to become a black hole of spiritual contentment.

There it was, and it was real to my mind.

It was the walkway to the inner sanctum, and it was charged with the energy of souls chanting offerings. I started to lift my foot and cross into it. Instead, I softly put down the foot and listened more closely to the words of the chant. Almost grasping an entire phrase here, catching a syllable there, I strained to tie them together and burn them into my memory. Hoping to make it all more real, I stooped to pick up a tiny stone and tossed it a few feet into the hallway of the temple...

... and the Present intervened as the echoes fell from the temple walls. My heart raced, my hand shook a tiny bit, and my feet remained at the edge of the threshold. Ah, but my ears had heard, and they recorded the message to the beat of the falling echoes:

Life is life,

Good is good,

Hold high your arms in gratitude.

That is where the replica was born. That is where the ideas have been toyed with and worn.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

All Tends Toward Chaos...

Isn't that one of the rules of physics? Everything moves toward chaos. I think it deserves some sort of mention in art, too, don't you? There's a lot to be said for fine workmanship-- its beauty, intricacy, polished assembly. There's even more to be said for the effects of the unraveling of such fine workmanship upon the eye and the imagination. When you drive by a well built barn, are you inspired to create a painting or snap more than a cursory photo? For me, I know that I tend to give a well built barn a nod of satisfaction and then move on, looking for something with more character to inspire a great photograph. That almost seems wrong, doesn't it? I value skilled workmanship and fine materials. However, I'm pretty sure they don't inspire me as much as skilled workmanship from another era and fine materials that have aged.

What's the draw of rust and faded wood? I believe it is the knowledge that many stories must have enfolded within the walls of a building old enough to be falling down from age. When I spotted the barn in this photograph, I wondered:

  • Who owned that farm when the barn was built?

  • Who cut the wood and took it to the sawmill?

  • Did that wood actually come from trees growing somewhere on the farm?

  • How much did it cost to buy the metal for the roof?

  • How many seasons of savings had to be gathered to build the barn?

  • Was there a barn-raising with neighbors bringing food and spending the day joking and laughing while they put up the frame?

  • What did the farmer wear? Overalls? Khakis? Whatever Sunday clothes had been worn to rags?

  • Did the farmer's wife keep chickens and a cow in that barn?

  • Who milked the cow?

  • Did the cow have a name, like Bessie or Ol' Bossie?

  • Were there barncats and hound dogs sleeping in the sunlit loft on winter afternoons?

  • What happened when the farmers got older and could no longer handle all of the daily chores?

  • Did someone move back home to help them run the farm?

  • Did those helpers attempt to slow the ravages of time, or did they just let it all slowly die?

  • Are there any antiques hidden in the corners of that barn?

  • Would anyone get mad if I parked the car on the bank of the road and walked into the barn?

See? Lots more to think about an old barn that's tending toward chaos, isn't there?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Get Low! Go Sumo!

Don't ya love the battered and worn sumo wrestler for still being ready to take on the world? There were so many cool things to capture in photographs during our Sunday visit to the St. Louis City Museum (<--- one of the coolest places on earth, by the way). The sumo statue just begged for some attention of his own, though. I patted his topknot of hair as I walked by him. James and Kate were happy to pose with him, too.

How much do I know about sumo wrestlers? Not much. Do I still think I have to admire this one? Of course! Look at him. He's ready to take on his opponent, nothing between them other than a strip of strategically draped cloth and some steaming breath pouring from their nostrils. Raw intensity, that's what it is.

When you're ready to take on a challenge, get low, and go sumo! Bring the intensity. Bring all the weight you can carry. Keep it all low, and dare the challenge to knock you over... because low and heavy is not easily overturned.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Yeah, What If?

I spotted this mural and quote on the wall of Beatnik Bob's inside the City Museum in St. Louis yesterday afternoon:

So, yeah, Rollo May (an existential psychologist of the twentieth century, by the way), what if imagination and art aren't merely the frosting on the cake of modern life?

You know, we'd still be talking about cake, dessert, optional extras besides the necessities of food and shelter. However, if we could allow ourselves think of imagination and art as "the fountainhead of human experience" without equivocation, then wouldn't the quality of our lives change for the better?

If we could allow ourselves to think of imagination and art as essential parts of emotional, intellectual, and spiritual growth, then instead of spending time explaining and rationalizing creativity, we could dive right in to the middle of the refreshing pool of art. If everyone could agree to agree those qualities are important for growth and general well-being of society, then we could spend less time arguing about the "why's" of budget cuts and more time figuring out reasonable solutions. After all, people eating is more important than people clapping for a performance... but acknowledging the arts do have an essential role in our life would go a long way toward healing a rift between the arts and the realities.

If we could all agree imagination and art are integral parts of learning, then all teachers would be encouraged to incorporate skills into as many subjects and problem-solving sessions as possible. How many times has imagination created a solution where we previously thought there was none? How many times have art and math entwined to create amazing landscapes and tools? Wouldn't it be great if we could all encourage our inner daVinci without fear of retribution for wasting time and resources fooling around with imagination?

Wouldn't it be great if we could all encourage one another to imagine, to create, to appreciate... and to do so without having anyone say we were ignoring the importance of realities like eating, working, and finding shelter for our families?

Friday, September 23, 2011

'Midst Lovely Autumn's Tears

'Midst lovely autumn's tears, I will walk the path of restoration. I will scoot my feet along the seeding grass, kicking the colorful leaves of memories, looking for meanings and divinations like so many hidden acorns waiting for the squirrels. From autumn's front walkway, summer's abandoned list of needs is still apparent, and I will sort them as I saunter toward the porch. From autumn's creaking porch swing, winter's rest will beckon, and I will nod sleepily. Autumn will be a lazy afternoon of life, the napping and daydreaming afternoon we need between summers and winters. The balm of intermittent soft showers and faint golden sunlight heals our restlessness and soothes our spirit.

To the casual eye, Nature appears to be dying in autumn, but those who watch have seen the seeds being cast from the trees and plants. Autumn in really a time of rest and restoration of the soul, a time to review the growth of spring and summer, a time to prune and shelter that which must grow again come spring.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Rainy Day

If I could slow down time, I'd stand by the little creek (ditch in the dry summertime) behind our house for an hour in the rain. I'd watch the patterns the raindrops make as they land on the surface, noticing how the rings merged and listening to the sounds as the drops fell through the leaves of the overhanging trees.


I love the sounds and the sights and the scents.

Like the late Eddie Rabbit, I do love a rainy night. I love a rainy afternoon even more, though. The cozy sky and the sounds seeping into the house from the slightly opened windows make me feel both sleepy and energized at once. Maybe the sleepy part is really a calm contentment, but whatever it is, it sure is nice.

What a nice afternoon... hope yours was as nice and cozy!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Does Your Base Fit Your Being?

How does your base fit your being? Were you raised in one way and now live in another, or does your base fit smoothly into the big picture of your life as it is now? Not that it's any of my business. I'm just fiddlefarting around with ideas as I try to decide which glass sculpture to pair with this piece of copper, once I actually decide what I'm doing to this piece of copper!
Spirals and repetitive borders speak to me in some materials, but the copper piece and the glass piece don't seem to be speaking to each other. Maybe, a different glass beadalina sculpture is the answer, but I'm not sure which one. Maybe, removing the nail polish and starting over on the design I want to etch is the answer, but I'm not sure about that, either. That's not the point of this post, though.
The point of this post is that I wonder how many of us feel as if the foundation of our personality, the base upon which it was built, is no longer a good fit with the person we have become? I wonder how many of us still value that foundation but feel we have grown beyond it, even out of it? You know, we feel our start in life was a solid one but that it somehow isn't big enough to hold up the meandering floor plan full of add-ons that is our personality now.
Well, I suspect this topic is way beyond being addressed in a single blog entry, so maybe I'll just leave it at this and coyly say, "It's food for thought."
Truth is, I'm sleepy, and the brain is not functioning full-tilt. It's more like my brain is wandering here, there, and everywhere, and still only moving in circles... interesting, intriguing circles, but circles, nonetheless :) Guess it's time for sleep. Maybe, I'll dream about writing the rest of this little essay! Good night, and sweet dreams to each of you!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Quick! Look in the Mirror! Tell Us Something Good You See!

Yeah, you. Go, look in the mirror, and tell us what you see. Don't tell us what you wish you saw or what you wish you didn't see. Pretend that's a friend looking back at you, instead of your own reflection. Wouldn't you tell a friend what you like about them? Well, of course, you would if you thought about it. So, make sure you treat yourself as kindly as you would a friend. Go on. Go look again. What do you see? Me, I look at this picture and see my sister and brother, blueblueblue eyes, shining streaks of gray, and lotsa freckles.

I also see things I wish I didn't see, but hey, that's a big part of the reason I'm writing this blog post about looking in the mirror. After snapping and deleting at least one dozen photos of my new short haircut, I felt fairly vain, particularly silly, and definitely warped by my expectations of other people's expectations. You know, as well as I know, that this picture captured a single moment that I found acceptable when I looked at it. The question is, why were all the others so unacceptable to me? I looked like that and that and that at those moments, so why weren't they suitable? Crazy, right? Right.

I'm not doing that to myself any more if I can help it. Of course, there will be pictures and reflections that make me cringe. That's life. But I don't have to mentally beat myself with the ugly stick every time, do I? No, I don't. It's ridiculous to frown at a reflection that obviously slept too few hours, as well as with her face crammed into a wedge on top of the pillow for those short hours. So, what if I look older every time I wake up? Does that make me any less happy about still being on the planet? Sometimes it does, but it sure as hell shouldn't! I'm not a girly girl. I take pride in having earned those gray hairs, take satisfaction in knowing those crinkles around my eyes have come with time. So, why in the world do I ever need to experience another truly unhappy moment when I look in the mirror? Oh, there can be moments of dissatisfaction, moments of annoyance, moments of regret, but they should only be moments... not big enough to undermine my self-confidence, not traceable enough to shake my self-image. I am who I am. That "am" ain't a supermodel, doesn't have legs that can be shown in shorts, needs to exercise and make her body stronger, but she's okay. Your "am" is okay, too, and don't you forget it!

Have you ever compared yourself to others and found yourself lacking? Don't do it again. Whatever her name is, she is not perfect. Chances are, she is comparing herself to someone else at the same time you are disparaging yourself for not being like her. Is either of you any better off for having those feelings of inadequacy? Nope.

For a great deal of my adult life, I lived in the shadow of a fabulously pretty woman who'd been the girlfriend of my ex and then of my husband. Um, yeah. That was an interesting twist in all our lives. What sucks about it, though, is that I didn't yet have this "I am who I am" knowledge. You wouldn't believe how many times I felt overwhelmed by my imagined importance of someone else's memory of someone who was no longer an intimate part of their lives... sheesh, I can't even reread that sentence without rolling my eyes, let alone understand how I could have let my brain do that to me for so many years! Pfffffft. She was beautiful. What did that really have to do with my life? I thought I caught a glimpse of her in another aisle of a store one day not long ago. I think the "pfffffft... so effing what" and the simultaneous shoulder shrug that I did at that moment says a lot about the change in my level of self-comfort as the years have passed. Good luck and best wishes to her. May she be as comfortable in her own skin as I am becoming. A few years ago, I'll admit that I would have wished to bless her with a few extra wrinkles for good measure, but you know what? Now, I just want every one of us to be happy with ourselves and show one another kindness when we can.

Once you come to this point, you realize it's your duty to try to spread the wisdom, share the knowledge, impart a little loving kindness to those who haven't yet seen the light. Time is key here. No one can rush time, and no one can make experience accumulate more quickly for themselves or anyone else... but if reading about the light sheds a little bit of it upon someone and brings her closer to being able to see it, then I'll write this as often as possible, in as many ways as possible :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Project of the Week: Her Name Is Breaking Free

Her name is Breaking Free, and she is the project of the week. Let's call anything less than fourteen days a "week," okay? Funny, how time flies once school starts! All of a sudden, kiddos have bedtimes and early mornings, homework and football practice, and dress codes and mealtimes. Heehee, the dress codes reference means that laundry becomes a priority because certain clothing favorites "need" to be washed in time to wear to school. Football practices and homework and mealtimes have to work in and around one another. Life is a little less laidback once school starts and Mom goes back to work, ya know?

This school year brought a surprise for my work schedule, though. My work day ends at 12:30, so I have three hours for torching, running errands, etc., before the kids arrive after their school day. So far, as anyone who's ever had the opportunity to be the stay-at-home parent could predict, little errands and crises have claimed lots of those afternoons. Ah, but I have gotten to torch some, too, and it has been wonderful! I finally reorganized my desk and indoor crafts, to boot, and that is starting to make a difference. (By the way, thanks for all the not-so-innocent nudging from my less packrat-y friends... you should be proud.)