Writing grants instead of working in the studio which is where I yearn to be. So as a break and with your indulgence I’ll share a list of some learned things from this CoVid self-isolation summer.

I have only a handful of decent insights – notes to self – that pull their weight for me. Looking forward to comparing these notes with others’, since we’ve all been navigating. In the meantime, randomly…

Thinking with just your mind is wildly overrated.

Sea Legs, if you want to function when the ground keeps shifting: you need to find them.

Anchor yourself with a flexible sense of humour, and functioning – at any level – is a lot easier. Use discernment in all things, but specifically the things you put into your mind, your heart and your body: information, love, food.

Trust your intuition, especially if it’s running against the prevailing cultural current. Rest when you can; move your body regularly and with appreciation.

Grant writing has changed only a little. It’s still a translation of a lovely round idea into a fixed number of words that give it square corners, like a stamp or a block. That said, writing and submitting applications is an extremely useful exercise – I would recommend it to all artists who want their work to resonate with other people – translation, like objectivity, is necessary. And it’s your job.

We still use the word Merit as though it justifies a subjective judgement, as though the idea of a meritocracy was EVER more than a way to support the Eurocentric worldview of white people (mostly men) and at the expense of all other people. Language is full of antiquity though, and I’m sure a better word will be found.

Habits are interesting. Invisible little nasty-sweets posing as daily comforts. Some are seriously dangerous addictions, disguised as fluffy quilts that were handed down from your ancestors. Others are regular ways to hide yourself away in a fold of time. Oh, I always do this at 4pm….

Habits tend to support a conflated ego, which is what makes them so damned difficult to unravel and repurpose. They are reliable, reassuring and extremely difficult to resist if you’re feeling vulnerable. but The thing that makes them habits and not rituals (which are conscious and deliberate) turns them into a hole in your memory. The more you rely upon them, the larger the hole gets.

I don’t think habits are the same as naps. I could be wrong.

Also:

Rain is like love. Nourishing, and not always comfortable.

Water is like music.

Life is good,
especially when it’s challenging.

There’s a very deep drum beating underfoot.  It began last week –  I can always feel it now, steady & slow.

river otter
river otter

Snow is no longer constant,  the air smells different.  We’ve turned the corner in this deep winter.

otters

Old, tired things have been examined and released, new ones discovered and developed.   Deep practise continues, but is now more focused and specific.  Long term projects have good momentum, goals defined, dates chosen, plans and reasons why clear and set – including an awareness that whatever isn’t anchored well will be washed downstream in the spring floods….

OtterBrownturn

Which is the way of things, and as it should be.

River to Lake, Lake to Ocean.  I can hear whales singing.

OtterBrownstare

In my mind I see heavy ropes as thick as my leg, one end of each securely tied to My Ship, the other attached to an immense anchor, to a wharf – strong ropes for whatever the need – this is my father, to me.

As captain, it’s up to me to make good use of them.  Should I need to slow the ship, should I need safe harbour or to anchor against a fast current, to get my bearings, find my depth, pull myself over a sand bar or tie myself to the wheel in a storm, dad’s ropes are there ready – strong, secure, unbreakable.

They are his ropes, too.

He uses them to pull a clear, functional focal point from wherever it lies obscured – in a dense work of fiction or philosophy;  a schoolhouse built in 1867 but declared redundant; the adolescent mess of a student’s mind; the unfocused power of a young athlete.  He pulls paintings out of tangled landscapes; sets out of plays;  the will to fight out of people numbed by despair; sparks out of an old ford.

He uses his ropes to tie himself – to a duty,  a purpose, to a cause, to a task, to a beloved friend.  These are the strong cords of loyalty; the silver-cored, platinum wrapped, finely crafted cords of family.

He uses them as intention – to connect the earth to the sky, with trees.  Maple, spruce, pine, cedar, ash, chestnut, olive, ginko, locust, oak.  Hundreds and hundreds of trees, planted my my father.

His ropes draw nourishment from the deep deep well of intuition and the will to create. Most graciously of all, they pull from the rare, fine place where he sees and accepts what is, fully, quietly and without judgement.

Oh, but he binds himself, sometimes, in worry.  He flagellates himself, sometimes, in atonement for the effects of his rage, his insensitivities.  I think we all do this.  Perhaps a little less would be better?

Hey – there’s a crack in everything.  That’s how the light gets in.

Happy 80th, Dad.   Good number.   Let’s go skiing.

K