To Bring Light into the World

One of the blogs I follow on WordPress is called:  I Heart Change (check it out here:  http://iheartchange.wordpress.com/ ).  The author is a very talented writer, but she also works on practicing her craft regularly.  Her latest post was about a 100 Day Writing Challenge.  I liked her list and took her up on her offer to use her list and follow it in order.  I’m not going to post my writings on my blog every day for 100 days, but I will be posting bits and pieces on occasion.  Or if the mood strikes me, I will scan in my handwritten journal entries as photos to look at.  And once in awhile, I’ll probably stray from the beaten path and sketch/draw the themes instead of write them.  So, I guess you could look at this as a 100 Day Creative Project.  In any case, I’m going to give it a shot!  Thanks for playing along with me.  Here we go. . .

Day 1 Topic:  Birth 

In Spanish, the phrase used for giving birth is “dar la luz” which literally translated means “to give light”.  This is one of my favorite phrases along with the term “duende” which has no literal translation but is used to mean something that is beautiful, magical and intangible.  When thinking about the day’s topic of “birth” I wanted to think about what “duende” I am willing to bring out in the light.  I feel I am at a new and exciting place in my life:  new house, amazing and life changing trip to Ireland for starters.  With all this newness means I have a chance to shed an old layer of myself and bring a new part of me out into the open.  I don’t want to reinvent myself, I want to reveal more of myself to others.  For too many years I’ve gone into hiding in that metaphorical “rabbit hole” and have protected myself from pain of relationships, pain of others’ judgments (real or imagined), fear of inadequacy and fear of failure.  That part of my life is over.  It’s time to live life for the sheer joy of it.  As Walt Whitman once wrote in his poem “A Song of Joys,”  “Joys all thine own undying one, joys worthy thee O soul.”

Yet, when we’re vulnerable to the world is when we need to protect ourselves as well.  But, how can I protect my new home and make it my own?  How can I keep up my exciting travels when money is becoming tight (due to all the moving expenses)?  How can I find love when dates aren’t happening every weekend?  I don’t have all the answers, but I know the biggest answer lies in remaining exposed and open and excited for what is happening right now and what will come to me when the time is right.  When I was younger, I had grandiose ideas of wanting to be super-successful and wanting to “make it” in the world and be recognized for my work.  I am now at a stage where I feel the urge to push out my talent into the world and let it simply be and blossom on its own time and work in its own way.

I used to take art classes in our church’s basement when I was in junior high.  I liked it enough, but I was stunted from fully enjoying it because I wanted every single piece of artwork to be perfect and to be “framable” art.  I guess in my skewed mind I was thinking that each one needed to be a masterpiece in its own right.  To top it off, I didn’t have the best teachers that honed in on my skills, talents and desires and they saw me as another kid that paid her $3 and spent a few hours at their table before going home.  A nice way to spend a Wednesday evening and take some cute pictures home to your parents.  So, I took some of the implied techniques I observed as these teachers were correcting my mistakes or mapping out my picture for me, and I practiced in private mostly.  I was self-taught to a certain degree.  Over the years I have taken art classes and garnered more ideas, skills and observations.  But, I put my drawings on a shelf in a dark closet and literally closed the door.  No more.  I want to bring them into the light and show off their “duende” for  a little bit.  I read a poem by a newfound favorite Irish poet of mine, Patrick Kavanagh.  The poem is simply titled “Birth” and he writes how the past has been destroyed and the future seems overwhelming.   Once we key into the present and harness the will and the merit of our work then “. . .all sorts of beautiful things appear in that place.”

Using my inspiration from Withman and Kavanagh and this new creative challenge, I’m dropping all fear and worry and bringing my joy, my light into the world.  Here are some of my sketches that I’m pulling out of the 13 year old sketch book.  They’re not masterpieces in their own right, but they are a part of me I’m willing to let you see.  Enjoy!

These cranes were from a photo in National Geographic magazine.  One of my favorite magazines.
These cranes were from a photo in National Geographic magazine. One of my favorite magazines.
Mockingbirds are my favorite.  This little guy used to sing in my oak tree all the time.
Mockingbirds are my favorite. This little guy used to sing in my oak tree all the time.
My old oak tree reflected on my neighbor's fence
My old oak tree reflected on my neighbor’s fence

The iris sketch is one I did last night after having written a poem.  The rest are from 2000-2008 (the last time I drew in that sketchbook).  Here’s the poem I composed and wrote on the sketch yesterday as well:

Under the sun

Blossoms my heart –

Closely connected to the earth,

Deeply rooted in the bonds of love.

Under the sun Blossoms my heart
Under the sun Blossoms my heart
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Day 3: Master Craftsmen & the Art of Storytelling

Creating art, in all its forms, is to possess a combination of creativity, passion & skill mixed with a certain sensitivity, vulnerability & openness to life. A master artisan, craftsman, musician or storyteller must learn how to channel all this and, to quote Ralph Waldo Emerson, bring “what is within, out into the world.” By the artist harnessing and fine-tuning all of his or her talent, the viewer, listener or reader will be transformed. This is what I experienced today here in Waterford, Ireland.

As a culture, we Americans put a lot of emphasis and expectations on our celebrities. We also harbor a secret desire to be recognized & some of us crave fame & fortune because to be recognized for something we are good at & then put on a pedestal & have our work admired, means we have “arrived”. The vast majority of us will never, ever be famous, regardless of how talented we are, while those who can sell products, act outrageous or fill stadiums will continue to flounder or flourish in the spotlight. There are great artists, musicians, writers, poets, dancers, singers, actors and craftsmen that will go unnoticed or unrecognized their whole entire lives, yet they are so dedicated to their passion, talent, craft, art or music that they will create art for art’s sake. They are the ones that silently, elegantly, beautifully, unwittingly change lives of those they encounter.

Take the master glass blowers and glass cutters at the Waterford crystal factory I observed today. I don’t know their names or their life stories, but I do know that they carefully etch intricate designs on elegant crystal or work laboriously heating, shaping & blowing the glass to create stemware that will be used by royalty, trophies that will be given to champions &gifts presented to heads of states.  These craftsmen will never receive any award themselves nor will they leave their names somewhere etched on the bottom of the crystal vase, bowl, or statue. Yet, they endured 10 years of training and art school and 3 years of apprenticeship before ever being allowed to handle the intricate & labor intensive work that is required of them. And if they make one tiny mistake, their piece will have to be smashed & thrown back in the kiln & reheated again & the tedious process must be started all over again.

Or take our local guide, Jack, who took us on a walking tour of his beloved city and gave us a history lesson mixed with a lively, witty, well crafted & executed story at every single stopping point, whether it was a Roccocco styled Anglican Church, a fortified ancient Viking tower. Or his history lesson he had us act out to demonstrate Irish-English relations over the centuries. I only now remember this story because of his interesting spin on it and because he knew how to deliver it so wonderfully to make it educational & entertaining at the same time. He conducts these walking tours daily (among being a consulted historian on many archeological digs in the area) and can read a group’s mood, identify strangers who are willing to participate & find a way to also have a personal conversation with each and every person by the end of the tour & then hope that he is thanked or given a nice tip for his art of storytelling.

And lastly, I met a musician/singer tonight who really made me understand that creating & presenting one’s art or craft to an audience is not about your ego and getting praise, but about tapping into emotions (yours & your audience’s) and giving your gift freely and joyfully. His name is Dermot Power. Odds are he will, like most amazingly talented people, never perform at large stadiums, or in front of heads of state or be offered millions of dollars in recording contracts & tour dates. He sang with a clear, beautiful & honest voice. He played his guitar with such ease & skill. He told stories & gave the history of the ballads he was singing. He talked to us and asked us questions. He made us laugh and made me cry on two separate occasions. Those were songs that had a melancholy overtone to them: “Working Man” writtenby Rita McNeil & an a cappella rendition of the famous Irish poet, Patrick Kavanagh’s “On Ragland Road.” He also sang funny “ditties” that made the family from Michigan so happy. The teenage girls swayed to his music, the little 3 year old girl sitting on her mom’s lap clapped her hands, the dad & the oldest daughter smiled and talked & elbowed each other every time Dermot repeated the funny chorus line. My travel buddy, Kristin & I had so much fun that we stayed until closing time. And 8 elderly women from Dublin sat in a small corner booth & sang a long to the Irish ballads of their youth.

That is what art, in its purest form does: it brings what is within you, out into the world.

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