Summer gardening takes some attitude and grit to make things grow. I guess I don’t have this year. By this time in the season my raise beds should be over flowing with squash and cucumber vines. I generally have lush tomato plants that are covered with bright yellow buds and swelling fruit. The bees would be buzzing in and around the plants as I tended their care. But alas, not this year. I’m blaming the weather here in the Bay Area; too many cool, over-cast days. The truth, though, is my attitude for these activities have waned a bit.
My interest have been diverted to the interior of my home. Painters are currently finishing up transforming my dull beige and white walls into sunny yellows and dreamy blues. One room is being painted with a color that is so appropriate for an artist. It’s called Clean Canvas. Doesn’t that just make you want to go and start something new! So in away I guess I am still planting seeds. The kind will burst into new interiors that will feed my need to design a garden of a different sort.
If life is a circus, then we all stand suspended on a tight rope between our next act and the consequences it may produce. In our hectic lives these days it seems we only have time to act and not ponder the consequences like we should. If we could only slow down and take a moment to just think things through a bit more those consequences would so different. We need more balance between action and thought.
There is this question that is asked to see if someone is an optimistic or a pessimistic. Is the cup half empty or half full? I don’t like the question. Maybe it’s because I waver between the two points of view. Sometimes the world is good. Sometimes it’s not. Time changes one’s outlook on life. In fact, at this time in my life, I know that the cup is never empty because it is always full of space. It is space that allows the flow from full to empty and back again. Space that reassures me that there is room for that inevitable change that will come. All I have to do it look at the lives that came before me to know this. I can see the ebb and flow of it in all my ancestors lives. So I am neither a optimist or pessimist. I am the space between the two.
Have you ever just started drawing and just went with whatever came up, like random shapes or squiggly lines? You let it develop it’s own life. It might look like a Rorschach test for a while. Then it morphs into images that you recognize, but your don’t know what they’re doing together. Still you just let it flow. You keep working at it, finding patterns and forms you want to develop. The composition develops with focal area and subordinate elements. Then, just about when you’re done, you get it. You see the connection from what you’ve be making to what’s going on in your life. It’s like you’ve been sitting going over and over a dream that you’ve had when all of a sudden the symbolism becomes clear. You get it.
That’s didn’t happen with this piece. It’s still a secret. Why are there angels? I don’t know. Where he is pulling her to? I don’t know. Why is she holding back? What is she about to see? You tell me. I painted this piece a couple of years ago. I’m still wondering about what’s going on with the two of them. Maybe, like dreams that fade as morning wanes into the afternoon, too much time has passed, and I’ll never know. Some secrets are never revealed.
Several times a week I take my dog, Mike, for a walk on a trail that is part of Lake Chabot Regional Park here in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is our time to exercise, build up some vitamin D, and decompress from the stress of the day. That last one is more for me than Mike. Anyway, I often get lost in thought, day dreaming about all kinds of stuff. We enjoy the people and dogs we meet along the way. There is so much beauty on that trail. It seems that with every walk, there is some event or experience that calls to be illustrated.
With our last walk we came upon this guy at sunset with shoes off and arms raise in the most intense, focused prayer. While he was silent, his whole body was vocal in his communion with a greater power. I wish I could have captured his express more so that you could see what I saw. I was tempted to join him and bask in the glory of the moment; feeling the life that surrounded us. But, I would have hated to disturb his moment of connection.
Whether by actual voice or intent, connection is what we again when we are vocal. What is an echo but a reverberation across space and time that says , “I’m here,” and waits for the reply, “I hear you.” And, so is a prayer.
It is such a common sight, as I drive from work, to see a group of young men hanging out in the neighborhood surrounding the high school where I work. Some of them I know. They were previous students of mine. The stance is always the same; one eye on each other and their other eye on the look out. They’re always aware of the action taking place on the street. So much is at stake.
Sometime I honk and wave at the one’s I know. Sometime I just wonder where they’re headed. I’ve known a few who never made it out the neighborhood. One that stays with me because he died so young; killed after starting a family and trying to get out. Once you’re in … sometimes there’s only one way out.
Yet I know each of these young men are like the values scales I have them practice. Depending on the pressure put on them, they change to be a different shade ; in the classroom so bright and fun, on the street — darker. If only the darker side could be erased away to reveal what I think is the truer shade.