“We lose ourselves in the things we love. We find ourselves there, too.”
“Painting is a deeply spiritual thing for me. Much like meditation, it is being present and keenly aware, but at the same time, letting go and trusting in all you have learned thus far. Many artists have tried to describe it with phrases such as -“following the muse”, “feeling the hand of God on yours”, or “being in the flow”. Regardless, it is really something undefinable, yet undeniable. I feel the following quote sums it up quite well: “We lose ourselves in the things we love. We find ourselves there, too.” *
Came across this quote on the website of Southwest artist Gaye Sekula who I met recently in a writing class. I’m always drawn to the vibrancy of New Mexico art as I was to hers, and even more to her comment. It’s so from her heart for one, but it fits so well with my ideas about living spiritually and speaks to a way of life whether we’re professional artists or not. There’s so much I want to write about this, but to begin, seeing Love as the essence of all life, it got me thinking she’s writing about how to live, seeing life as art, as creativity, as a way to live our inspirations, our joy. And not just a race to accumulate things and struggle our way to the winding down of the clock .
And wouldn’t you know, pondering that I discovered someone (among others I’m sure) who’s written about that very thing! Eric Booth has written quite a bit about it and I’m perusing his landmark book, where he says we all “engage in the action of artists every day … art is a common ground we share; the work of art is a way we all do things when we are working well.”
In one section (paraphrasing) he asks us to think about approaching everything we do with the same affection, passion, care, absorption that we do our traditional artistic endeavors whether it’s knitting, working on old cars, being a master chef or composing a symphony. He talks a lot about what I’d call the artist’s ability to see beyond the limits of time and space, or only what the eyes see, or the ears hear. Realizing that what we see is only the tip of the iceberg and the act of creativity brings what’s hidden into view.
It takes me back to those spiritual ideas of stillness, attentiveness, being present, in the moment, listening. Makes me question if it’s really the artist who creates or is it an act of being open, open to allowing what’s really there to make its appearance? As does the sculptor who sees form in the slab, or the house renovator who sees the potential in a rundown property.
Most photographers will tell you how much of their work is waiting, waiting for the right light, the right shadows to fall, the right moment, the right gesture. I’ve learned from my own writing that so much of it is sitting myself down in front of the pad or the screen, beginning, and allowing the words to come forth. I’ve also started learning how to see more magic in the mundane of even drinking a glass of water. Helps to use a special glass.
Is it possible we’re missing daily opportunities to turn our everyday into majesty? Are we spending so much time racing from one activity to another we’re missing the depth of the one in front of us? Are we accepting the limited sense we have of the people in our lives or the frustrating situations when a change of approach or perspective could transform those situations into something far more pleasant, even inspiring. Are not each of us works of art worth discovering? I think so.
A very simple illustration was my first job out of college in my dream city, New York. I had an easy, relatively quick subway ride from upper Manhattan to mid-town. But even at that young age I was aware of spending some of my daylight underground in a cave with a crush of very sleepy, grouchy people. So after some months learning the ropes at work and how to navigate the city, I made the decision to start out earlier, and take the bus. I decided to better prepare myself to face the day by not missing so much of it, like the sun rising on those grand skyscrapers, and observing those iconic New Yorkers, my new neighbors in the greatest city in the world!
I felt absorbed in my surroundings, more in tune with its noise and energy, and enthusiasm. Sometimes a tad late (trusting my performance would cut me some slack), but far more upbeat and ready to roll. I was truly lost, engrossed in a time and place I loved.
What ways can you think of to turn your mundane into magic with a little bit of artistry?