Friday, October 15, 2010
Weekly Reflection (week 39): I am an artist
So I had this very deep, philosophical blog post mapped out in my head ... how perhaps artists today are the Shamans of our society ... revealing the vastness of human experience which many may feel uncomfortable examining ... hence the tendency to lump Creatives with the mad, the unstable, the eccentric ...
I think there is some meat there but when I got up this morning I knew I couldn't stay indoors on the computer and that the best course of action would be an outing to the public garden. And then I stumbled upon this quote and my decision was made:
"Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you truly love." - Rumi
It helped that my "assignment" for the Tribe this week in Fearless Painting was to go outdoors and paint. So I loaded up my backpack with painting supplies, grabbed a camera bag for the polaroid and my trusty canon (I think I need to name my camera ... Lorenzo ... because I swear it does whisper to me in Italian whenever I use it) and packed a lunch of pb&j, apple and energy bar (I know, chocolate would have been more appropriate.) I hit the road, U2 blasting from the stereo and a cool Autumn breeze kissing my face. It was a perfect day.
The public gardens here are amazing. Tucked away on the edge of town right near the river are 100 acres with 20 different garden spaces. I have a favorite spot by the marsh pond that is very secluded with benches under a wooden shelter. I spread out my stuff and began painting the scene before me: a pond filled with lily pads, gold fish, frogs and autumn grasses. The only sounds were a blue jay, the plop of frogs off of their pads and into the water, and a very chatty squirrel. Heaven.
And then they came: wave upon wave of school kids on a field trip. I would guess they were in first or second grade. And as they made their way to my sanctuary, I groaned a little inside. But then the most amazing thing happened: seeing me working, a couple of the boys exclaimed "Wow! Cool ... you are painting." Rather than cover up my work, I explained I was painting the pond and let them take a look at my painting. Staring at the page, one boy eagerly asked "Are you an artist?"
I paused before answering. I was aware of my knee jerk reaction to say "no, no ... just playing" but I that impulse pass. Proudly and a little bit surprised, I replied "Yes ... yes I am." And then ... better than the richest piece of chocolate, better than an A+ on any report card ... this one boy told me "You are are a really good artist!" I think I would have cried except I was too busy staring at the joyful expressions on their faces, as if they had stumbled across an astronaut checking out his rocket. I mean, these kids seem amazed and impressed to stumble across An Artist and who was I to deny them that joy?
Perhaps they knew what we adults have forgotten: that making art is a portal into a vast realm of imagination and adventure; that picking up a brush and some color is a way to uncover the deeper pools of truth that lie within; and that art encompasses all of life - the messy, the organized, the painful, the joyful, the comprehensible and the confused. Making art is a way to invoke magic in the pursuit of healing. The practice connects us to our power, our voice and our ability to create meaning out of that which on the surface often appears meaningless. It is an attribute of being human but one which we far too often deny ourselves. Why? Maybe because of its potency, I'm not quite sure.
I took time to point out the many frogs sunning themselves on the lily pads and watched the kids faces beam when they finally saw the vast busyness of the pond underneath the stillness of the scene. As they left, a few commented on how cool it would be to paint and I yelled to them "Just do it! There is no right or wrong way to do art! Whatever you want, that is perfect." I have no idea what their teacher thought. I only hope that perhaps one child when home, picked up a crayon or some paints and began to explore the possibility that they too might be an artist.
So today, if you were to answer to the pull of what you truly love, where would you go? What would you do? Or more importantly: why aren't you already doing it?