Lightly Child, Lightly

Working in silence, I try to do each task, from stir-fry to writing, as silently as possible—no radio or television or speakerphone—a consummately pleasant exercise to see how quietly I can work, how completely I may cultivate a light hand. Everything is improved in the process, including the task, its doing, and its outcome. The painter’s task—the writer’s task—the composer’s task—the gardener’s task—the cook’s task—the teacher’s task—the meditator’s task—the solitary’s task is to get out of the way, to dissolve and efface the self into the work at hand so as to permit its subject’s essence to shine forth. Cézanne wrote, “You don’t paint souls. You paint bodies; and when the bodies are well-painted, dammit, the soul—if they have one—the soul shines through all over the place.”

Fenton Johnson, At the Center of All Beauty: Solitude and the Creative Life (W. W. Norton & Company, March 10, 2020)


  • Image: Handwriting by Ecriture Infinie
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”



  1. The pockets of silence have become intensely important to me of late, and when I do seek sound, it’s nature’s melodies I crave…birdsong, a thunderstorm, the wind…they soothe me.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. yes, the soul can’t help but shine through all of it. luckily.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. All in Silence, except cooking.

    As for speakerphone, that’s a torture method. One can kill me sitting talking on speakerphone by me!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    I think that’s why they say ‘silence is golden’ … Fenton Johnson, At the Center of All Beauty: Solitude and the Creative Life (W. W. Norton & Company, March 10, 2020).

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s funny, In the past few years I have realised just how much I do pretty much everything in silence. Music distracts me when writing, unless it is quiet classical with no lyrics; walking is always just me, Zeke and nature; gardening, when I do any, is also usually in silence; cooking, well, that depends! I sometimes forget to turn on some music! I get into my car and the radio goes on and I think, I really need to listen to more music!
    I don’t know how I became this person, to tell the truth. I used to be always surrounded by music.
    Things that make me go hmmmm

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Every Thursday morning when I see your Lightly Child, Lightly notification in my email, I get this little thrill of anticipation and delight.

    I know you will not disappoint.

    And you don’t.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Valerie Meluskey says:

    Funny realization: that although I cherish silence, and sleep, write, cook, garden, walk, drive in my car all in silence, I feel very companioned. [by the way, I raised 3 very engaged, active, physical, and friendly children a few decades ago]

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Great quote from Cezanne…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I knew Cezanne was a great painter, but he sure had a way with words too! Since being married to HH, I learned to NOT have music on or CDs playing all the time. I got so used to it that now it bugs me even reading that you do everything in your life with your earbuds on and sounds drumming into your head. I cannot imagine that any longer. When I get into the car, it’s the only time I have CDs or the news on, automatically, I turn the key and it^s on. Have now, after our international move, the ungrateful task of trying to think How to go about sorting some 500 CDs – no interest to listen to them too much (the long drives in the car of 7-8hrs every weekend took a LOT of music to listen to!), not wanting to get rid of them, not having the space to store them….. a huge dilemma. As long as I can read I’m fine. I listen to music to which I cannot do much else besides. I no longer can stand a background ‘noise’, be it as lovely as can be. Is it older age? Is it a ‘trop plain’, a too much of a good thing for too long a time. I need more time to think, ponder, reflect.
    And all this because of bloody Cezanne 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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