Thanks James, for coaxing this out of me.
I heard a rumour you’d moved, he said. How are you doing?
A year ago I read Rebecca Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost, in which she suggests that artists find places where no one has been, and then find a way to take us there (Scientists do this, but collect data to analyze for us. As good metaphors do, this one planted itself like a long echo, with pulses one year apart.
I just heard the first of them. Ah.
The things we want are transformative, and we don’t know or only think we know what is on the other side of that transformation. Love, wisdom, grace, inspiration — how do you go about finding these things that are in some ways about extending the boundaries of the self into unknown territory, about becoming someone else?
Lobsters can’t grow beyond their hard shells unless they crack their old skin, pull their soft bodies out, and then eat the old shell.
There are You Tube videos of this that are exhausting to watch: the process requires a period extreme discomfort, after which the lobster is soft and vulnerable to predators. But it’s unavoidable: grow, or die inside your old, hard skin. To moult and risk being consumed is to live.
(In case you read a 2007 online story that suggests otherwise, you should know that this is not true about eagles.)
I can be softer, here. I’m human, so this softness makes me stronger.
As my old skin falls off, my listening increases. I move differently, feelingly.
Lost, to what, I wonder, as I receive and note impressions of this place that notices me: the shy veery who comes ever closer; tiny mushrooms twenty feet up the trunk of a sapling; the perfectly coiled snake; the bee, the impossibly strong, intertwined tree roots, the enormous mushrooms, the song of waves on shore.
Twilight is my favourite so far, but there is no time of day, no weather that is not rich with beauty and promise, so long as I am present in it, and open.
Thank you, Rebecca, for the long echo. Thanks, James, for the simple question, artist to artist. Thanks Scott, for helping to fund studio space for me this winter, so I can build the work. I look forward to making your painting.
I am living inside an art project. Lost, on purpose, here where the horizons are broad.