The problem (if there was one) was simply a problem with the question. He wants to paint a bird, needs to, and the problem is why. Why paint a bird? Why do anything at all? Not how, because hows are easy, series or sequence, one foot after the other, but existentially why bother, what does it solve? Be the tree, solve for bird. What does that mean? It’s a problem of focus, it’s a problem of diligence, it’s supposed to be a grackle but it sort of got away from him. But why not let the colors do what they want, which is blend, which is kind of neighborly, if you think about it. Blackbird, he says. So be it. Indexed and normative. Who gets to measure the distance between experience and its representation? Who controls the lines of inquiry? He does, but he’s not very good at it. And just because you want to paint a bird, do actually paint a bird, it doesn’t mean you’ve accomplished anything. Maybe if it was pretty, it would mean something. Maybe if it was beautiful it would be true. But it’s not, not beautiful, not true, not even realistic, more like a man in a birdsuit, blue shoulders instead of feathers, because he isn’t looking at a bird, real bird, as he paints, he is looking at his heart, which is impossible, unless his heart is a metaphor for his heart, as everything is a metaphor for itself, so that looking at the page is like looking out the window at a bird in your chest with a song in its throat that you don’t want to hear but you paint anyway because the hand is a voice that can sing what the voice will not and the hand wants to do something useful. Sometimes, at night, in bed, before I fall asleep, I think about a poem I might write, someday, about my heart, says the heart. Answer: be the heart. Answer: be the hand. Answer: be the bird. Answer: be the sky.
The Lori’s, the Mimi’s, the Beth’s, the… (I can go on and on)…they weave words. Fine, beautiful, silky words. Effortlessly sliding around rock. Floating on air currents on a magic carpet. Drifting upward with red Helium balloons. And then. There’s me. Chopping. Hacking. Slashing. Racking my mind to find just the right word. Blow after blow of self-flagellation. It can’t be due to a lack of depth in (of?) vocabulary. (Well, maybe it is.) I do have a short list of magic words. I love them. Yet, I find it impossible to work them into a sentence. (Note to Self: In time DK. In time. You will work this list. It might be 3 yards and a cloud of dust, but you will cross the damn goal line. Yes you will. And yes readers, you will soon find these deep blog passages of mine “imbued with sparkle and élan.”* Oh, God. Help me.)
Bucolic In a lovely rural setting.
Conflate To blend together.
Demure Shy and reserved.
Ebullience Bubbling enthusiasm.
Ethereal Gaseous, invisible but detectable.
Evanescent Vanishing quickly, lasting a very short time.
Gossamer The finest piece of thread, a spider’s silk.
Halcyon Happy, sunny, care-free.
Imbue To infuse, instill.
Incipient Beginning, in an early stage.
Ineffable Unutterable, inexpressible.
Inure To become jaded.
Lissome Slender and graceful.
Mellifluous Sweet sounding.
Panoply A complete set.
Petrichor The smell of earth after rain.
Propinquity An inclination.
Scintilla A spark or very small thing.
Sumptuous Lush, luxurious.
Surreptitious Secretive, sneaky.
Woebegone Sorrowful, downcast.
- Photograph Source: Modified from Waltzing Matilda.
- Words Source: Thank you Anake Goodall For “The 100 Most Beautiful Words in English“
- “Three Yards and A Cloud of Dust” – Description of Ohio State Football Coach Woody Hayes philosophy
- * “Imbued with sparkle and élan” was lifted from Google Search.
“I would like this to signal the end of “wasted angst” in my life: I’ve never regretted anything so much as having particular individual worries, in a certain sense anachronistic ones, whereas general worries, worries about our time (or at any rate those that can be reduced to such: like your problem in paying the rent, for instance) are so many and so vast and so much “my own” that I feel they are enough to fill all my “worryability” and even my interest and enjoyment in living. So from now on I want to dedicate myself entirely to these latter (worries) — but I am already aware of the traps in this question and that’s why for some time now my first need has been to “de-journalistize” myself, to get myself out of the stranglehold that has dominated these last few years of my life, reading books to review immediately, commenting on something even before having to time to form an opinion on it. I want to build a new kind of daily program for myself where I can finally get into something, something definitive (within the limits of historical possibility), something not dishonest or insincere (unlike the way today’s journalist always behaves, more or less). For that reason I make several plans for myself: … to maintain my contacts with reality and the world, but being careful, of course, not to get lost in unnecessary activities; and also to set up my own individual work not as a “journalist” any more but as a “scholar,” with systematic readings, notes, comments, notebooks, a load of things I’ve never done; and also, eventually, to write a novel.”
~ Italo Calvino
Italo Calvino (1923 – 1985) was an Italian journalist and writer of short stories and novels. His best known works include the Our Ancestors trilogy (1952–1959), the Cosmicomics collection of short stories (1965), and the novels Invisible Cities (1972) and If on a winter’s night a traveler (1979). Lionised in Britain and the United States, he was the most-translated contemporary Italian writer at the time of his death, and a noted contender for the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Here are my selections for the inspiring posts of the week, this Thanksgiving week:
Greg @ Sippican Cottage with his post Thanksgiving 2013: “…I think the worst condition of man is loneliness. It is a terrible thing to be lonely, or worse, truly alone. No one goes crazy in general population. It’s solitary that eats at your mind. Even the craziest of men, immured in stone, unable to get even a glimpse of the bright, blue tent of the sky, scratch at the walls to leave a message; to tell another that they were there… I am not alone in this world, which is good, because I have a melancholy nature. I am married, and I have children to throw rolls over the table at one another. They are my name, scratched on the unyielding wall of the world, telling anyone that will bother to notice that I was here. My family makes me calm about many things…People don’t often appreciate things that come readily to hand. I’m a person… We will have enough to eat, and sit in a warm room, laugh and wonder at the dogeared cards we have been dealt, and I’ll try mightily to shed the light that is my true function, to make me more fit for my work. We will all pray over our plate like children. Thanksgiving is the only kind of prayer that you can be sure will work, because it faces backwards. I tap on the wall of the Intertunnel, too. I often feel disconnected from my fellow passengers on this spinning rock, moreso each day. I wonder if some other inmate, some fellow traveler, might hear my tapping, and be braced by the thought of a fellow internee. I often hear tapping in return, and it refreshes me to carry on.” Amazing post. More here. [Read more...]
“Is this magic? A miracle? No, it’s common as dirt.
It’s how creativity works. We show up. We do our best. Good things happen.
This is the intersection of Hard Work and Inspiration.
When we say “Put your ass where your heart wants to be,” this is what we mean.
This is what being a pro is all about. It’s why we practice self-discipline, self-validation, self-reinforcement…
We master all of those disciplines for one reason: so that we can be sitting there in the sweet spot when the Muse’s rocket ship passes by. That’s how the two sides work together. Hard work and inspiration.
Diligence produces inspiration because it shows respect to the goddess.
Genius and brilliance do not earn her favor. She prefers sweat. Get your butt in to the studio. Sit down at the piano. Boot up your iMac.
See yourself as the Muse sees you. You’ll know what to do.”
~ Stephen Pressfield, “You, as the Muse Sees You“
Image Credit: Patrick Wilbanks
“You want to know the meaning of life? This is your highest calling: You are called into the dynamic co-creation of the cosmos. This breath is your canvas and your brush. These are the raw materials for your art, for the life you are making. Nothing is off limits. Your backyard, your piano, your paint brush, your conversation, Rwanda, New Orleans, Iraq, your marriage, your soul. You’re making a living with every step you take. So when you make a living, do not merely make money. Why settle for cash when joy is on the line? You feel a thrill when you dance, when you sing, when you finish your poem; even when you sweep the room you see order pressing back against the chaos. So when you create, never settle for making a living — at least not the way that the world might define that phrase. When you make a living, you are speaking a new world into existence. You are creating grace within the confines, you are co-signing God’s blank checks.”
~ Jon Foreman, Lead Singer & Guitarist of Switchfoot. Excerpt from Meaning of Life.
Good Wednesday morning. Here we go with my selections of the inspiring posts of the week…
- Up top, you see a photograph by Terrill Welch, photographer and painter extraordinaire from Mayne Island, British Columbia. Check out her featured photographs here and her featured oil paintings here.
- Yoni Freedhoff @ Weighty Matters with a share that he describes as one of the most gripping, harrowing and tragic articles I’ve ever read. < 500 words. I read it a week ago. And still can’t shake it. Read the article titled Fatal Distraction.
- Sandy @ Another Lovely Day with her post: report from my in-box: 6•27•13. Our good friend Sandy had accumulated 20,000 emails in her inbox and has decided to finally deal with it. My neuroses would have exploded. She, on the other hand, is unfazed. I am inspired. Read on at this link. [Read more...]
Good Wednesday morning. It’s been a long time in recognizing my favorite posts of the week. Here we go…
- JT Weaver with his post titled The Last Visit: “…This was the last time I would ever be allowed to enter the home of my youth and I knew it…There was still a familiarity when we pulled in and parked the car in front of the garage. The grass that I had mowed so often as a teenager and the driveway I had swept as one of my chores, all seemed so real and so current to me. The garage door opened with that same squeaky sound I had known for 50 years…Just entering the kitchen I could feel and smell it. Not the musty smell from years of neglect while the house was for sale, but those many meals that were cooked here. I could feel the bustling of dozens of people around a holiday meal with the loud chatter everywhere…Read more at this link.
- A Busy Mind Thinking with her post titled A Day In The Life – When You Are Trapped In Your Body: “…Prior to illness this was my routine…I worked full time. I drove my children to and from school. I attended all school and sports related activities. Twice a month I would go dancing with my sister. I worked out in a gym 3 to 5 times a week…You would have to see my body to appreciate how it (now) appears. My fingers, hands and arms curl up. My legs are swollen and my toes are discolored. If I can walk a few steps I am significantly bent over. I cannot straighten myself up or be helped to do so. These are the facts. Sometimes, due to the paralysis nature of my illness, it affects my facial muscles and my neck on the right side. This in turn affects my ability to speak, to chew food, to swallow, to smile, to breathe, to not choke…WHEN YOU ARE TRAPPED IN YOUR BODY all sorts of things change. So here is my average day now…” Read more at this link. [Read more...]
Good Wednesday morning. Here we go on my ride of inspiring posts of the week:
- LouAnn @ On The Home Front with her post titled Remembering June: “… Remember June when you were a kid? It was warm outside and the last thing you wanted to do was sit in a classroom. Yet, you had to endure exams even if you wanted to be playing baseball, or skipping rope, or just doing nothing. Remember when exams were over, and it seemed silly to still be in school? ....Read more of this nostalgic post at this link.
- Sandy Sue @ A Mind Divided with her post Finding the Rhythm: “…We become mesmerized by the details of our lives, by our hardships, by our opinions and beliefs. Our minds race to find evidence to shore up our convictions. We suffer and claim the suffering of others. But we can feel it, the offness of it. We are out of sync, forcing a rhythm that is not ours. We pile on more tasks, enlarge our circle of worry, to distract us from the discomfort. It doesn’t occur to us to stop. We slide over that notion, because to stop would be too painful. To stop would threaten all we believe about ourselves and the world. To stop might invite change…” Read more of this wonderful post @ this link.
- Ray @ A Simple, Village Undertaker with his post: Point – Dad: ”…A teenage boy had just passed his driving test and inquired of his father as to when they could discuss his use of the car. His father said he’d make a deal with his son: “You bring your grades up from a C to a B average, study your Bible, and get your hair cut. Then we’ll talk about the car.”” If you are a Parent, you’ll enjoy the rest of this story at this link. [Read more...]
Good Thursday morning. Here we go on my ride of inspiring posts of the week:
- Diana Schwenk @ Talk to Diana with her post titled What Can Compare to Love?: “…Ahh the beautiful things I have seen; like sunsets/rises, the detailed design and brilliant colours on butterflies, the turquoise lakes in the Canadian Rocky Mountains…and the beautiful sounds I have heard; like the waves crashing on the shore, the wind blowing through autumn leaves, the crickets’ song at night, a lone wolf howling at the moon…and the beautiful textures I have touched or been touched by; walking barefoot on lush grass, feeling the warmth of the sun on my face, the cleansing coolness of water on a hot day…and the beautiful things I have tasted; like a crisp and juicy apple freshly picked from a tree, bread fresh from the oven slathered in butter, a cold beer on a hot day...Read more of this wonderful post at this link.
- Katy @ k8edid with her post Stuck in the Middle (Age) With You: “…#4 Half the Distance Takes You Twice as Long: I can no longer open jars by myself, my eyesight is failing faster than my vision insurance covers new lenses, and my teeth are wearing down. I have fillings older than many billionaire CEO whippersnappers and they are working loose at an alarming rate (the fillings – not the CEOs). My joints are achy and any rapid movements could land me in traction. While I don’t yet need a hover-round, I am not exactly zipping about on foot, either. I’ve traded sexy shoes for comfortable ones. I spend 2 hours a day on exercise – an hour dreading it, half an hour trying to talk myself into it (by promising myself a bowl of ice cream afterward), and 30 minutes letting the dog drag me down the sidewalk”…Wonderful post (true and funny). Read more @ this link.
- Dr. James Stratford @ Beyond the Call with his post: Finding our Bliss: ”We’ve all had them, those moments when we’re reminded just why it is that we love what we do…When we find our bliss we find what we love, we connect with it at a deep level, and through it we experience more of ourselves just as we also let go of any fears or doubts.” Read about his Dr. Stratford’s specific moments of bliss at this link. [Read more...]
Good Wednesday morning. Inspiring posts were gushing over the dam this week. Here we go on my ride of inspiring posts of the week:
- Sun Dog kicks us off with a photograph of a sunrise over the Black Sea.
- LaDona @ LaDona’s Music Studio with her post titled This One Hurts. Short. Picture is worth 1000 words. Yes. I was moved.
- Ivon @ Teacher as Transformer with his post I Walked a Mile with Pleasure: “…Leave nothing behind and look back only at the good that came of it. Know you served well those you met on the path. Hold your head high…” Hit this link.
- Serenity Spell with her post titled A Heavenly Hardwood Swamp: “Earth’s crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God: But only he who sees takes off his shoes. — Elizabeth Barrett Browning” Beautiful post. A daily stop for me. Read more at this link.
- Misifusa @ Misifusa’s Blog with her post titled Rest in the Clouds. My Rachel shared this with me last night and encouraged me to watch. You are going to say, you don’t have time to watch. Yes you do. Yes you do. Hit this link. [Read more...]
Good Wednesday morning. I’ve been on a siesta the last few weeks with my inspiring posts of the week. We’re back.
Kurt Harden @ Cultural Offering with his post titled You Sir at Pump 16…. I watched this clip three times. Susan watched it. The kids watched it. We all loved it. Do yourself a favor and start your day with a smile. Hit this link.
Rian @ Truth and Cake with her post Forget The Blueprint, Ride the Mechanical Bull: “…Often, we’re so hellbent on getting it right that we miss the point entirely. The right career, the right school, the right spouse, the right restaurant, the movie with the good reviews, wearing the right outfit and snagging that just right opportunity and hopefully doing something really meaningful and perfect with our lives: these things obsess us. I can look back on a (very large) handful of times in my life when I was given an amazing opportunity or experiencing something really great that, in retrospect, I stressed way too much over. Will I blow this? Will it work out? Where’s the next opportunity going to come from? What if people think I’m crazy?…Read more of this great post from a Freshly Pressed Blogger @ this link.
Seventhvoice with her post A Childless Mother, Is still A Mother. Though her arms may be empty… her heart never will: “Mother’s Day has always been an incredibly difficult day for me. Filled as it is with mixed emotions but not for the reasons you might think. It’s not a difficult day for me because I have a son with Autism or a daughter on the spectrum. In many ways their presence here helps to counteract the whirlpool of emotions that this day normally stirs up in me. Mother’s day is hard for me because I am, or at least I would have been, had everything gone to plan, the mother of seven children. You see, four of my lovely ones never made it kicking and screaming into the light of this world…” Read more of this moving post @ this link.
“Balzac drove himself relentlessly as a writer, motivated by enormous literary ambition as well as a never-ending string of creditors and endless cups of coffee; as Herbert J. Hunt has written, he engaged in “orgies of work punctuated by orgies of relaxation and pleasure.” When Balzac was working, his writing schedule was brutal: He ate a light dinner at 6:00 p.m., then went to bed. At 1:00 a.m. he rose and sat down at his writing table for a seven-hour stretch of work. At 8:00 a.m. he allowed himself a ninety-minute nap; then, from 9:30 to 4:00, he resumed work, drinking cup after cup of black coffee. (According to one estimate, he drank as many as fifty cups a day.) At 4:00 p.m. Balzac took a walk, had a bath, and received visitors until 6:00, when the cycle started all over again. “The days melt in my hands like ice in the sun,” he wrote in 1830. “I’m not living, I’m wearing myself out in a horrible fashion—but whether I die of work or something else, it’s all the same.”
— Balzac’s daily routine by Mason Currey from Daily Rituals: How Artists Work
Good Wednesday morning. Here are my selections of the inspiring posts of the week:
Jon-Mark Davey, South Florida Wildlife Photography kicks us off with his photograph of a orange butterfly shot at Rock Springs Park, Apopka, Florida. Check out one amazing shot after another at Jon-Mark’s site at this link.
Annabel Ruffell @ Journey For Earth with her post titled I am Enough: “But…Often in my life I have felt that I am not enough. I am not being a good enough mother, a good enough friend, a good enough person…I am not doing enough, being enough, am just not enough…” Beautiful post. Read more at this link.
Bonnie @ Pagekeeper with a letter to her her son titled Not All At Once: “…You, growing up, is a long game and even though you and I both want it to all be ok for you right now, let’s both try to remember that you need to take your own time with things. I want you to know that everything I do is for you – so that things are better for you. So that your easy laugh and smiling eyes are always what people see first when they meet you...” Moved. Inspired by this post. Read more at this link.
Coach Bill Moore with his share in a To Run – A Prayer for Boston: “I will take you…on in the street…Every breath of mine…I will consume your hate…I will run straight into you…as if you were a finish line of joy…picking up the fallen…along the way…you will never stop me.” Wonderful. Read full poem by Scott Poole at this link.
A post by Amanda Patterson on Rudyard Kipling triggered a stream of thoughts this morning. Kipling was born yesterday in 1865. I couldn’t recall ever reading anything by Kipling but I’ve certainly heard of him. (DK. Mr. Contemporary. Always looking forward. Never much for history. Not much for looking back. What possibly could I learn from a life 100+ years ago? PAST IS PAST.)
Kipling, “born in India, was sent to England to live with a foster family and receive a formal British education at the age of 6. These were hard years for Kipling. His Foster mother was a brutal woman, who quickly grew to despise her young foster son. She beat and bullied Kipling, who also struggled to fit in at school. Kipling’s solace came in books and stories. With few friends, he devoted himself to reading. By the age of 11, Kipling was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. A visitor to his home saw his condition and immediately contacted his mother, who rushed back to England and rescued her son from the Holloways.”
Yet, here’s a man who survived this childhood and flourished. He said:
Small miseries, like small debts, hit us in so many places, and meet us at so many turns and corners, that what they want in weight, they make up in number, and render it less hazardous to stand the fire of one cannon ball, than a volley composed of such a shower of bullets.
I always prefer to believe the best of everybody, it saves so much trouble.
This is a brief life, but in its brevity it offers us some splendid moments, some meaningful adventures.
And a man, who produced this poem in 1895:
The path to excellence. Study the best in the field. Develop lifelong habits. Continuously revise and improve. (Kaizen.) Practice. Have a critical eye with your own work. Be sure to focus on the process as it is as important as the output. Pursue your field of passion despite the views of your critics. There are no shortcuts to excellence – it takes incredible focus and effort. Same old, same old? Yes. It worked for Matisse. And it will work for you and me.
Henri Matisse (1869-1954), along with Picasso and Duchamp, was regarded as one of three artists who helped define art and sculpture in the 20th century. There is a Matisse show on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art until March 17th, 2013. There is an exceptional review of the show in wsj.com titled The Relentless Reviser. Below I share excerpts from the review that are applicable to many of us in our fields: [Read more...]
My importance to the world is relatively small. On the other hand, my importance to myself is tremendous. I am all I have to work with, to play with, to suffer and to enjoy. It is not the eyes of others that I am wary of, but of my own. I do not intend to let myself down more than I can possibly help, and I find that the fewer illusions I have about myself or the world around me, the better company I am for myself.
~ Noël Coward
Happy Birthday, Noël Coward, who was born on this day in 1899. In his bio, he is defined as having “virtually invented the concept of Englishness for the 20th century. An astounding polymath – dramatist, actor, writer, composer, lyricist, painter, and wit — he was defined by his Englishness as much as he defined it. He was indeed the first Brit pop star, the first ambassador of ‘cool Britannia.’…Coward was on stage by the age of six, and writing his first drama ten years later…His between-the-wars celebrity reached a peak in 1930 with “Private Lives,” by which time he had become the highest earning author in the western world…Since his death in 1973, his reputation has grown. There is never a point at which his plays are not being performed, or his songs being sung. A playwright, director, actor, songwriter, filmmaker, novelist, wit . . . was there nothing this man couldn’t do?”
Noel Coward: Top 10 quotes
- It’s discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit. [Read more...]
Thank you to my friends for nominating me for this award: Carolyn @ abcofspiritalk, Sandy @ Another Lovely Day, Cristi @ Simple.Interesting, Dogdaz, Ivon @ Teacher is Transformer, Joyat60, Kalabalu, Kim @ Tranquil Dreams, Melody @ Donkey Whisperer Farm Blog, Misifusa, Renee @ Rendezvous With Renee, SarahPotterWrites, Tarasai @ Writerfield and Iamforchange. I’ve been procrastinating in “paying it forward”…for fear of leaving out and disappointing so many exceptional bloggers that I follow. (Anxiety remains.) Yet, Renee’s words (subtle that they are…sarcasm dripping) have been ringing in my head: “Just pay it forward, Dave.” So here we go…
Rule No. 1: Show and Tell.
Rule No. 2: Don’t go searching for a subject, let your subject find you. You can’t rush inspiration…you can’t force it. Once your subject finds you, it’s like falling in love. It will be your constant companion…Your ideal subject should be like a stalker with limitless resources…
Rule No. 3: Write what you know…listen to your heart. Ask your heart, Is it true? And if it is, let it be. Once the lawyers sign off, you’re good to go…
Rule No. 4: Never use three words when one will do. Be concise. Don’t fall in love with the gentle trilling of your mellifluous sentences…