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humbled and human

I want to write.

There is much change filtering through the waters of late January, and I find myself at odds with the urge to name, record, describe.  The feeling is that if I narrow my focus I will miss something crucial on the periphery of my vision.  Because of this, my urge to articulate today feels like swimming through murky water at a vague shiny thing.

Nevertheless, I want to write.  So I’ll tell about Zoo.

fish2

For the first time ever in years of paying close attention there it was the fish who seemed to notice and respond.

air breather from the murky streams of Malaysia.  Very curious about me...
air breather native to the murky streams of Malaysia. Very curious about me…

I was conscious of the differences between us- the slow grace of his movement through water, me heavy and percussive in the greater gravity of air.  The sheer size and odd shape of him had me fascinated, which must have been mutual – he approached me the way one does a timid creature, cautiously and sideways, until we were mere inches apart.  I could have stayed there for an hour, talking.

FishBighead2

We walked the Zoo for five hours, witnessing the multi-species there, connected by the collection of themselves, busy with being where and who they are, sentient.  As we progressed I found myself meditating most on Human Nature. We are unique in this rich cultural place; we so desperately need to name, classify, study. We need to collect specimens of ‘not-us’ and display them.

Piranha

As visitors, we bang on the glass and yell our demand to be entertained if nothing moves on the other side.  How utterly embarrasing, that behavour.  Why?  Good God, why?

Before I stopped taking pictures this lady came running from far away and sat with us for a long long time.
this lady came running from far away and sat with us for a long long time.

I loved the visit – was overjoyed to play with the Canadian river otter, met eye-to eye with some primates like this baboon and a teenage gorilla that I shall never forget.

But always, at the zoo, I am conflicted by the fact-  of zoo.

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Inclusion

Drippy Sunday morning; the world outside has shrunk …which appropriately rhymes with Funk, because Funk is precisely what I’m in.

… niggly, prickly snappish me with a million essential things to attend to but instead I chop a fridge full of vegetables and chicken into tiny tiny pieces, beat up a dozen eggs, fry severed onions into carbon, do five sets of loud dishes and answer every question with a maximum of two wedged-out words …

frontPorch_Jan2015

“Mom, can I have a hug?”

Grunt. “May I.”

“….Yes.”

FrontStepJan2015

I don’t know why I’m feeling this way.

While chopping onions I feel grim satisfaction at my power to slice through, to un-make a still-living thing.  While I feel this I think about art and manipulation and rage; growth and green and death which in turn makes more growth and green.

It is possible to smile though a clenched jaw.

buried in this pile is a garbage bag with kitty litter in it that the truck didn't take away, even though it was tagged.  I don't want to think about it.
buried in this pile is a garbage bag with kitty litter in it that the truck didn’t take away, even though it was tagged. I don’t want to think about it.

Of course we are all far too busy for real sanity – what did Norm Bell tell me at the afternoon TOM Gallery opening today… that our generation is the last that has experienced what we now think of as ‘down’ time. (Link to a review of Michael Harris’ book, The End of Absence – thanks Norm)

I do remember, in my bones, what it felt like to be empty of everything but the sky I gazed into, far away from any connection to the rest of humanity or it’s obligations or measurements of my time and effectiveness and function.

I remember the micro sound of a caterpillar chewing leaves beside my head – wondering what the sound was, discovering it’s origin then …wondering in a larger way that I could hear it at all, so small a thing…

BackPorchJan2015

I write from tomorrow about that volatile place I was in. It has taken me to my studio, where I wake to the clutter of promise, the smell of colour, the yearn and memory of cello.

I know what to do, when yesterday I did not [I will dig into paleontology and paint artifacts]. Yesterday in the storm of my own inexplicable rage I felt battered and almost violently unexplained.  At the gallery in a crowd of people I know well I felt awkward, too-strong and my words, like a pack of battling cousins came out sideways, fist or feet-first.  Yesterday it was next to impossible to find compassion.

I’ve read somewhere recently about the making of art that it comes from these places of unexplained pain, answers the pain through process, then tells the story.  This could be so, for those who must make art, must make, must … self-provoke?

I miss this.
I miss this.

I do love winter.  We get more beautiful winters here than anywhere else in this vast province, (larger than France and Spain, combined).  Perhaps it was the melting of the white into dirty brown that set me off unexpectedly, traversing the landscape through my own unstable lava fields.  I know I’ve been missing green, and gardening, but I strongly suspect that there’s more to my rancour than this.

I have a day in my studio to paint, to practise and to tick things off the long list.  Another tomorrow, then Wednesday and Thursday.  Friday afternoon we will travel to Toronto to visit with good friends, and on Saturday I will visit the Zoo, which is wonderfully peaceful in the wintertime.

I’ll say hello to the river otters for you,

river otter
river otter
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Friday morning

There is an ‘absence of me-ness’ in this morning.  What a relief.  Maybe thanks to A.A. Milne:

“What day is it?”, asked Pooh.

“It’s today”, squeaked Piglet.

“My favourite day”, said Pooh.

morning light.

I’ve just cleared off and wiped the table where I sit, so the soft light coming through the south windows in front of me beams straight across it with no impediment.

I have a curious urge to play a version of pooh sticks where you sit as still as the still leaves outside, blur your eyes and listen to every sound you can hear, all the way to Greenland, the Orkneys, Norway, Siberia, the Aleutians and the BC coastline.

So I do.  There are tigers and rain and humpback whales and a golden eagle involved in what happens next.  And something the Dalai Lama said.  I get all fizzy.  Time stops.

Then I open my eyes to see that the beam of sunlight has traveled 3.5 feet across the surface of the table, and the light comes through golden leaves outside.

Thanks for that, A.A. Milne.

There’s a long list of things to fulfill today.  Time to get at it, good humour intact.

Happy Friday, all.