In the intro to his essay Navigating the Mysteries, Martin Shaw writes, “THE CORRECT RESPONSE to uncertainty is mythmaking. It always was. Not punditry, allegory, or mandate, but mythmaking. The creation of stories. We are tuned to do so, right down to our bones. The bewilderment, vivacity, and downright slog of life requires it. And such emerging art forms are not to cure or even resolve uncertainty but to deepen into it. There’s no solving uncertainty. Mythmaking is an imaginative labor not a frantic attempt to shift the mood to steadier ground. There isn’t any.”
This idea has shifted my understanding of what today is for. In this birdsong and exuberantly flowering trees, sunlight strong enough to tan my skin at 8:05am, I imagine the inner usefulness of certain things and how, with just enough awareness and imagination I can combine them, differently than before, to make a key. The pollen that dusts my table, pigment (that smells warm like my childhood) extracted from apple bark shavings, the twitchy dance of this starling on the hydro wire. He stares straight at me, strings entire sentences together in complex, sophisticated starling talk. He is someone who understands the how, the who and why of murmerations; I want to know what he knows.
Ordinary things have a transformative power over anxiety in these times, when one political side outspends the other 1,000 to 1, as oil subsidy, the quietly sanctioned poaching of grandfather trees, apartheit in Palestine and the invasion of Ukraine continue, barely checked under the pressure of public opinion. I see bullies everywhere I look – fractured souls terrified to lay down their arms, relinquish control, surrender and be done onto as they have done. I can understand that terror I think, as I draw a broken heart in the pollen dust on the table, then wipe it clean.
I have sunlight on my skin, warmth from friends across great distances, and I’m honoured to be schooled by this starling, who knows far more than I. I have my own uncertainty, in a gift box inside many boxes, each wrapped in bewildering camouflage. The pull of this uncertainty is the most reliable compass I know.
I believe there is a full lunar eclipse today; I’m leaning in. I’ve cleaned my 80-year-old Czech coffee set and will take it down to the studio to honour lunch and conversation with a friend from Bonavista. I’ll label fabric pieces, finish three blankets and puddle away at the paintings in my studio. Lunar Eclipse, good friends, Czech Porcelain from WWII, my uncertainty, The Starling on the wire. Today feels good.