Saturday, November 13, 2010

Art Imitating Life... or is it Visa Versa?


Fall is fully here in Sonora. Nothing near the east coast, but our own little version, with leaves of every color, shape and size (the persimmon is by far my favorite – gorgeous corals and oranges), clear, crisp mornings and nights, and the wonderful smell of wood burning in fireplaces. This week we’ve hit 32 degrees overnight, and I can feel winter closing in. It, too, is in the air, though it’s more subtle and mysterious, difficult to articulate. It's a stillness, a quiet anticipation, almost like earth softening herself, preparing for restful barrenness and sleep.

Surprisingly, on good days, anyway, I find myself really looking forward to a long winter here. On those good days, here is my sense: I am here. It looks like I’ll be here for the winter. Maybe, because I’m here, there really is a reason I am here; maybe my being here, though it looks from pretty much every vantage like a colossal mistake, is somehow part of an invisible rightness, maybe being here is actually perfect… the perfect retreat, all winter, nothing to do but be… in my little cave in the almost mountains. Each day my sense grows stronger that maybe, just maybe hibernating here might be not just good, but very, very good; might in fact, be exactly what I need; the next step in resting, recuperating, renewing… and healing.

Here’s how I envision spending my retreat days:

Writing
Meditating (I’m getting pretty good… over 20 minutes sometimes… it’s a miracle)
Walking
Taking pictures
Doing art (mixed media collage)
Eating fresh, healthy food (part of any good retreat… more on this sometime later)
Sitting on my sofa with my animals staring out into the trees

The desire to create has burned inside me for many (mostly frustrated) years, and I am feeling the heat of that flame again, the hunger to give myself over to creativity. In the creative process, you surrender and let go, go out on a limb, take risks,plummet, soar, expose yourself, lose yourself, find yourself. Lately I have found myself reading inspiring blogs and buying books by amazing creative women. Two weeks ago I moved my dining room table closer to a window and turned it over to art. The table is now strewn with paper, paint, brushes, scissors, the current project. It’s a mess and I love it. I can sit and work as I am moved, with no need to get everything out and clean up each time. A whole room, albeit small, and smack in the middle of my home, not tucked away in some obscure bedroom, dedicated to the messiness, the chaos, of creativity. What freedom. It flaunts convention, and it fills me with a feeling that I can't even find the words to describe, except that there's something about it makes me slightly breathless. What symbolism, art in the center of my home reflecting my deeper desire for it to be the center of my life. And collage seems like the perfect thing right now. Take a piece of this, a scrap of that, throw some paint here, some images there, maybe some words. It’s chaos until something does—or does not—emerge from all the bits and pieces. Just like life. Sometimes a thing of beauty is born and it is joyful, other times it is a hugely sad disappointment, you throw it away or paint over it and begin again. Just like life. It is alive. It is stimulating. It transports. Regardless of outcome, it is always, always about the act; the process, not the product, the journey, not the destination.

Just like life. And don't get me wrong, it is a big process this learning to accept what does or does not emerge, this letting go of or redefining the idea of beauty, of outcome, of identity, of what "should" or "shouldn't" be, to not question, second-guess, judge, critique, evaluate.

Again, just like life.

Which has brought me here. For some mysterious reason that only It knows. With, some would say, have said on more than one occasion, an amazing opportunity. No job, obligations, places to be, things to do, people to take care of. As the seasons turn, I will take my que from them. A time to retreat. A time to be. A time to surrender and let go. A time to create.

As in art, so hopefully, in life.

I always think of spring as the beginning. But in truth, it is winter. Fall marks the dying away, then winter the internal resting; the dark, quiet, solitude, where the decay transforms itself magically into the rich compost necessary for creation, birth and new growth. Without winter, spring could not even be a thought, much less a possibility. I feel myself reveling in the anticipation of this wintertime. The fire is burning, the table set...






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