blue jays and things

Things

 

 

 

There is something I don’t know
That I am supposed to know.
I don’t know what it is I don’t know,
And yet am supposed to know,
And I feel I look stupid
If I seem both not to know
And not to know what it is I don’t know.

Therefore, I pretend I know it.
This is nerve-wracking
Since I don’t know what I must pretend
To know.

Therefore, I pretend to know everything.

I feel you know what I am supposed to know
But you can’t tell me what it is
Because you don’t know what I don’t know
What it is.

You may know what I don’t know, but not
That I don’t know it.
And I can’t tell you. So you will have
To tell me everything.

– R. D. Lang in Knots

To be continued…

pantherchild“We do not know what things look like, as you say,”the beast said.  “We know what things are like.  It must be a  very limiting thing, this seeing,”

“Oh  no! Meg cried.  “It’s- it’s the most wonderful thing in the world!”

“What a very strange world yours must be,” the beast said, “that such a peculiar-seeming thing should be of such importance.  Try to tell me, what is this thing called light that you are able to do so little without?”

“Well, we can’t see without it,”  Meg said, realizing that she was completely unable to explain vision and light and dark.  How can you explain sight on a world where no one has ever seen and where there is no need of eyes? “Well, on this planet,” she fumbled, “you have a sun don’t you?”

“A most wonderful sun, from which comes out warmth, and the rays which give us our flowers, our food, our music, and all the things which make life and growth.”

“Well,” Meg said, “when we are turned toward the sun– our earth, our planet, I mean, toward our sun– we receive its light.  And when we’re turned away from it, it is night.  And if we want to see we have to use artificial lights.”

“Artificial lights,” the beast sighed.  “How very complicated life on your planet must be,”

Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time

A nicely burning home

home2

April Dream

Last night my house was burning.  Could not find

one precious thing to grab and find comfort in.

And when the torrential rain hammered out the

flames, I was angry with its self-righteous

interference.

 

My house is still burning.  And where it is

whole, I have not found all the rooms,

closets and old garbage.

There is no longer

a complacent order.

Havoc has its own

integrity. Charred walls accept young vines

and holes in roof allow the fragrant spring

to freely visit.

 

My house is not my castle.  It is not the

precious final coagulated fulfillment of

ironed-out dreams. It is a plant, a tree

swaying in the evening wind.

Joseph C. Zinker, 2001

from: Sketches: An Anthology of Essays, Art, and Poetry, Gestalt Press

 

care (full)

care

 

 What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

“Leisure” by Welsh poet W. H. Davies, from Songs Of Joy and Others

published in 1911 by A. C. Fifield

Land and Water

Land and Water

These are really the thoughts of all men in all

ages and lands, they are not original with me, 

If they are not yours as much as mine they are

nothing, or next to nothing,

If they are not the riddle and the untying of the

riddle they are nothing, 

If they are not just as close as they are distant

they are nothing.

This is the grass that grows wherever the land

is and the water is, This is the common air that

 bathes the globe.

Song of Myself (part17)

by Walt Whitman

Looking Back and Looking Forward

newdirections

“…That’s why we have the Museum, Matty, to remind us of how we came, and why: to start fresh, and begin a new place from what we had learned and carried from the old.”  Lois Lowry, Messenger

The transitional space between old and new feels like a shifting energetic pause.  Time is marked by rituals of looking and stepping back, maybe even gathering up and holding on to last years moments. Review, reflect, let go….then into the New, clean slate and fresh start. A re-new cycle begins.

Part of moving forward includes looking back as a way of combining and integrating (hopefully) the best of past with future. The art of knowing where we are, includes knowing where we came from and where we plan to go.  Maybe this “looking in” knowledge is what allows us to stand in the now and direct fresh energy towards a renewed creative cycle.

Wishing you creativity, health and joy in the New Year.

Looking into the Open

Looking

The Open

With their whole gaze

animals behold the Open.

Only our eyes

are as though reversed

and set like traps around us,

keeping us inside.

That there is something out there

we know only from the creatures’ countenance.

We turn even the young child around,

making her look backward

at the forms we create,

not outward into the Open.

R.M. Rilke, from the Eighth Duino Elegy

Madiba and the power of creative potential

Madiba

Madiba’s powerful words encapsulate many levels of meaning. Perhaps that is why they inspire and light a creative spark for so many of us. These words point to the idea that finding passion requires commitment and responsibility. The heroic attempt to live up to one’s potential and the power that entails is often an overwhelming challenge.  Marianne Williamson wrote

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? […] Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do […] As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

The responsibility of owning our powerful creative potential requires knowing the shadow aspects of our personality.  Artist Louise Bourgeois had a deeply personal lens through which she artistically engaged with her shadow and what she felt was the burden of her own creative potential power.  Bourgeois wrote

I’m afraid of power; it makes me nervous […] In my art I am the murderer, the man who has to live with his conscience… As an artist I am a powerful person.  In real life I feel like the mouse behind the radiator… By withdrawing, by recognizing that you have no power, you become more than yourself.  You get ideas which never would have occurred to you .  In my art, I live in a world of my own making.  I make decisions.  I have power.  In the real world, I don’t want power

Bourgeois was able to create powerful art by acknowledging her shadow side and fears. She played with both positive and negative aspects of power and its potential for both good and evil.

In his lifetime, Madiba also experienced both the dark and light sides of power.  His words are meaningful because they emerge from a deeply felt, impassioned life experience, a life that entailed great courage, risk and exploration of the unknown, all elements of the archetype of the creative hero.

the known unknown

 “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

the stars

Poetry

And it was at that age … Poetry arrived
in search of me. I don’t know, I don’t know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don’t know how or when,
no they were not voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.

I did not know what to say, my mouth
had no way
with names,
my eyes were blind,
and something started in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
deciphering
that fire,
and I wrote the first faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
nonsense,
pure wisdom
of someone who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw
the heavens
unfastened
and open,
planets,
palpitating plantations,
shadow perforated,
riddled
with arrows, fire and flowers,
the winding night, the universe.

And I, infinitesimal being,
drunk with the great starry
void,
likeness, image of
mystery,
felt myself a pure part
of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke loose on the wind.

by Pablo Neruda

To paraphrase Dr. Jordan Peterson from a recent  TED lecture, “there are things that you know deeply, you just don’t know that you know them.”  Creative process is a way to allow the known unknown to surface through the arts.  Encountering the known unknown often leads to the emotional experience of awe.  We risk a leap of faith from what is known into what is not yet known. This is the experience of not having the words to describe, feeling deeply moved, touched, terrified and fascinated simultaneously.  Neruda’s poem conveys the experience of being summoned and touched, and then “my mouth had no way with names[…]something stirred in my soul”.  Creative process is a way to allow known unknown treasure to surface.  The expressive arts have the potential to inspire and reflect back what we most need to know in a form that may be both seen, shaped and shared.

Art and Dreaming

“I dream of painting and then I paint my dream.”  Vincent Van Gogh.

In his book Dream Tending: Awakening to the healing power of Dreams, Dr. Stephen Aizenstat writes that dream images are like characters in a story.  Dream images give meaning to our life’s story, just as characters in novels give meaning to the narrative.

“An artist is constantly looking into an object, stripping away what is superfluous, in order to see its innate beauty.  Even a careful look at the surface of an object reveals that which is lit up from the inside” (Aizenstat, p. 263).

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