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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Art and optimism

The best things in life are free.
I've always believed that.  Have enjoyed so much of the great outdoors, the beautiful world around us.  Many a picnic has been eaten by a stream, under a tree, on a hilltop, by a lake...etc.

I used to be able to hike, then when retired I moved to the mountains, and found I lost my ability to breathe and do much exercise.  I do still enjoy driving through the area, and have short walks where I can certainly enjoy nature.

Do you think the best things in your life are free?

I just watched an interesting TED talk by the writer, Anne Lamott.  She talks of 12 things she knows are true.  It's very appropriate for these times, and all times.

I think as an artist I approach life with an optimistic bent.  However, at times I feel like Eyore of Winnie the Pooh fame, where everything is just awful.  Then my friends cringe that I'm again doing what I call "awfull-izing."  Eyore certainly had that down to a fine art. Woe is me, everything is just in the bottom of the pits.

Anyway, most of the time I wake up on the sunny side of the bed. (I know, trite and awful, I apologize.)

Often I'm grateful just to wake up each morning.  But don't expect me to go jumping out of sir.  I creak and groan and move slowly for the first little while when I stand up.  Anytime I've been stationary for over 20 minutes that happens.  After a bit, I can move easily.  And after I do my fake-yoga stretching, I move much better.

Any artist can tell this is me, 74-3/4 years old! What, you don't believe me?

Anyway, that stretching thing is free.  And I can either skip it, or enjoy how my back feels afterward. It's a bit of being somewhat intelligent to know that the results are worth the time and effort I put into it.  Those of you who belong to a gym, you're doing the same kind of thing, but paying for it.

But back to art and the best things being free.  We artists see with an intensity that regular folks don't.  I'm pretty certain of that. Anne Lamott, there's another truth.  But she does talk about it's maybe somewhat like that.

No, it's not.  A writer converts what she sees into words, in hopes of getting her readers to imagine what she saw.

A clay artist (me) sees something and tries to put it into a clay work.  A bug is a good example.  I don't apologize any more for the fact that my bees don't look like an entomologist would see them.  They are the way I see them.  And some folks see them that way as well...and want to eat off pottery that I've decorated with them (bees).  It's more direct.  Visual to visual experience.

But to get to that shared experience means much the same work that any creative person goes through...the grind of working the dictates of the medium.  It's not always easy, often boring, and sometimes disappointing.  That's where my Eyore self comes to the front.  I have to get the Yoga self to come take care of this little stubborn donkey that thinks all is gloom and doom.

This self-analyzing thing is something that took me years to understand, and reading a lot of self-help books, and getting a Masters and Specialist and becoming a Counselor.  We all have self-talk of different kinds.  That work I did learning what other counselors think just reminded me that I've got to take care of myself, myself.

And that means I want to see what the next free enjoyable thing may come my way.  I think hearing a bird sing.  Should I maybe learn what songs go with what birds?  Maybe a trip to the library or follow the "app for that."  The library is mostly free...though my civic involvement keeps it going through local taxation.  I LOVE libraries, and don't want to see them used less and less, which I think just might be happening with the technological revolution (TR).

And I'm part of the TR just mentioned, and know already there's an app that figures out which bird the bird songs belong to.  I just haven't bothered to learn the way to translate the sounds into some notation system that they use.

For now, I'm enjoying hummingbirds visiting my feeder...when I happen to be looking at that moment.  Ive painted a few hummers on plates, bowls and cups.  They are one of the universal things that makes people smile, I think.

And I must add smiles to my list of free things that are among the best free things in life.  Whether young or old, friend, relative or stranger, it's so great to have someone smile at me!

There's a genuine sense of love that is being shared, like the hummers only for a moment some of the times.  But these smiles remind me of the longer lasting aspects of love that we share with others.  I had a moment last week in church during a hymn that the congregation sounded so wonderful, they could have just been repeating the word Love, Love, Love love, Love, instead of the words written to the music.  That was the feeling that they were sharing.

I'll stop this long winded memo about free things (not free love, though that would also be an interesting topic) and get back to art.

1 comment:

  1. What a great post! Thank you for sharing the TED talk, I really enjoyed it.


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