Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Keep it Ablaze!

That idea, that concept, some may even call it a vision from God…it gets stirred and the very elements bend, blend and meld into a force so strong it seems irresistible to manifest. If it were possible, the grand concept in your head could take on life by itself – or so it seems – and touch the world with Love and Blessings. Dancing on a cloud, nearly impossible to sit still and demanding to be declared, you find yourself scarcely able to sleep and keep quiet? It would be easier to sit on a blazing fire than not tell everyone! But…

So excited about this great idea or this new approach to an old dream, you ride the high of revelation, nearly incapable of breathing at times. But…a few days go by, issues “at hand” demand one’s reasoning abilities. Oh the moments when you can sneak away and give some thought to your new plan! But the water heater just broke down, and yes, “we” can take cold showers until we come up with a way to get that thing replaced. And then we have the sense that our latest inspiration, this new fire is either further away than when we first believed (like it jumped in a GTO and pealed off at 65 mph!), or that maybe we need to scale back our implementation plan. You know, work it around our current and growing list of dilemmas. After all, it could pretty much run on its own.

How many great ideas, life changing plans have made their way to the cobwebbed corners of our head? How many times have we struggled to stay alive in light of the absence of inspiration? It isn’t that we are lazy or that fear is too great, it’s just, well you know, we have debt and the leak in the roof and the shoes needed for the kids

Don’t allow it to fade…I know it’s been four weeks since you had that great idea and in the grand scheme of creatives, if we don’t act on it quick, the fire gets small. But stir up the flame, put kindling under it each day. When the cut-off notice arrives in the mail, lay it beside your dream, also in written form; allow them to keep one another company. Go to sleep and awake to that new found hope each day. Stir up the flame until your limbs and heart move to the rhythm of its beat.

Monday, June 20, 2011

You are Here!

We are often directed to set goals, track our progress, and make mid-course adjustments where appropriate. But I'm finding out, the goals I've set, though higher than my past or current place, sometimes they seem like they're out of reach or invisible. But then, I'm reminded of the quote from Henry David Thoreau:
  I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings…If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.

Good. Great! Now the notion is thoroughly planted in our head, what about this very minute? When one's dreams and goals reside in a higher place, the path can, at times, become obscure. Please understand, I don't have this confusion, anxiety, panic and apathy demon chained and subdued, yet. All too often, my thoughts are primarily focused on "THE FUTURE" or the "task list" generated by others.

You ever find yourself forgetting what or why you went in a room? You enter the room, mindful of a million things beside the reason you got out of the chair? Well, this has been a constant problem since I was a small child. Mom would send me in a room to get, for example, a spool of black thread. In the seconds between her telling me and walking into the room, the 'mission' would be gone. I would have to go back and ask "what was I supposed to get?" Of course she called me an old man and strangely, I've simply grown into the character.

So it's important to take a few minutes, hours, days, even, to stop and determine "where am I at this moment?" I mean, honestly, while we want to know where we are, relative to our goal, we also want to examine - and rather critically - is this the path and goal for me, are there alternatives, what lead me to the very place I'm at, at this moment? We also want to examine the multiple paths this very place could lead us, and will those 'roads' ultimately lead to the "castle in the sky."

We've all heard the analogy of the lumberjack's attempt to cut down a tree with a dull axe. Somehow, he's convinced if he continues as he is, and chops harder, the tree will eventually fall. But some wiser comes along, examines his situation and suggests "why not stop and sharpen your axe?" Whether "someone" comes along or not, it never hurts to stop and determine what's going on at that very moment; what nagging thoughts and emotions are you ignoring, in your determination to reach your goal? Examine where you are, now, before you find you've reached "a goal," but not the one you intended.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Finishing what I start

If I'm sitting in someone's office, testing software, one of the things I despise is incomplete requirements. Or it could be a project plan that looks like a grocery list - bullet points - and I'm sitting there saying: "I'm going to test what?"

But the kettle takes note of the black of the skillet: i.e. I'm guilty of the same thing! Last week, my son was flipping through images I have on Facebook and found an image I forgot about. It's called Landscape and apparently, it seemed unfinished, at least that's what he said. I went to it immediately, finding it in one of my old sketchbooks. Looking at the image, I saw the colors that were missing, shapes that would round out the image.

I have to say here, I love Jazz music and styles of music where there's a 'baseline,' notes written and played simply, but subject to bending - we call it improvisation - at the whim of the musician as he flows. Funny thing about images when I start with an idea: I could have the colors, shapes and a general understanding of how the layout should be, but when I start flowing, there's nothing like allowing a line or colors to bend to a will greater than my own.

So I completed Landscape; signing and dating it, for me is the a sort of finishing touch, though my tendency is to allow it to sit around and speak to me. Art does communicate, people; trust me, sit with it long enough and examine the shapes and colors; a story is being told. You need only listen. And when 'we' tell a story in addition to that rendered? Divine communication, love! But the sketchbook has been on my desk for days now, and today I picked it up and flipped the page. Behind that page was another page with a painting idea I haven't got to, yet. And looking at it, the idea was fresh in my head again! The movement of the lines, the back of one of the characters in the painting declared it needs to be finished - heck STARTED!!! And I flipped the page again and there was 'me,' or my rendering of me.

I never have a shortage of "to-do's." There's always someone who needs 'this' or for me to come over and 'look at that.' This evening is no exception, and as soon as I finish this, I putting down colored pencils and going to help out, again. But 'me' was calling, well 'me,' so I picked up my colored pencils and listened to the message. Two hours later, well I've signed it, but if I spend minutes, hours, days with it open and visible, the message will continue to speak to me.

Really, we aren't crazy; we're just more in touch with the messages that are communicated to everyone. Okay, got to go start/finish something else!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Through the Eyes of an Artist

"Hey Mama," included today, begin like so many recent works: trying something out. I bought a fresh pad of charcoal paper, 18 x 24" a couple weeks ago, and knowing my tendency to let paper sit for long periods of time without so much as a swipe of a pencil, I put it to use near immediate. I dared myself to think big, after all it's a large pad. I told myself to start a face and from a point I don't normally, so I begin with a nose, the left nostril to be exact. I liked the half-moon of it's development and continued to lightly render the remainder of the nose.

This was to be an experiment; funny thing about having a grand image in mind. With a great image in one's head, you have a tendency to over-analyze the smallest detail - or at least I do. It's a good place for me to simply allow the charcoal, colored pencil, pastel or paint in a brush to meet the surface and have at it.

But that brings me to the point of this entry: the artist's eyes ~ a fickled, critical being with a life of it's own! Yes "Mama" aint "easy on the eyes" as my grandmother-in-law used to say. She's got a big honker of a nose, eyes that aren't symmetrical and a chin that looks like she's wearing a feed bag under her mouth. Sure, I could pretty her up; I could take this image and store it away for future use, but right about now, I want "mama" to be who she is. It's the latest the challenge to my nature. As opposed to ripping the sheet out and tossing it, I keep it in an obvious place. I stare at it's lack of beauty, how the rendering seems like something a kid in elementary school would have done (though in grammar school I could not draw like this!). I look for places to "trim" and "highlight" and yet, there's always something endearing as well as misshapen about old "mama." Lesson to take from this? Trust your eyes; and then tell them "shut up!"

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Expectantly, Listening, for a Reply


I'm Listening

A Reply
In the quiet and the clatter, I'm listening. Yes, I want IT. I want it all, but so often settling for a little bit seems appropriate. And yet, a little would never do. I wait, I listen, sensing movement.

At times, there are rumbles,  from above, like rolling thunder across a Kansas sky. Reminiscent of past days, when the earth moved for the briefest moment, there's an expectation of "more to come." A silent "Lord, come quickly," escapes the quiet in my head. I know it's coming...not because the arrival time appears on a train schedule, but because the heart knows.

Certainly it seems like "now" is better than "when it's right," but...if you've ever waited for a fresh from the oven pound cake - no offense Sara Lee - the hour and a half wait, while agonizing, is worth it. What's coming is worth the silence, it stands up to the wondering "when" and "why."

I read Deby Dearman's blogpost today, Artrageous Living and she talks about the fear in the entry: Action vs. Perfection; it struck a chord in me, challenged me to think about the many times I choose to mow the lawn, wash dishes and clothes and play Bejeweled rather than draw or paint. I thought about the other artists in my circle who don't have a great Fine Arts degree from a prestigious school, but yet they're reaching the world with their art and earning money from it. I thought about fear and the energy I choose to give it and I quietly prayed that my ears, heart and soul would be better tuned to respond and act -  NOW!!!

Its coming; I can hear the answer, the reply in my soul. Thank you, Lord.

Friday, June 3, 2011

A Response

I've been listening;  I'm learning to flex muscles rarely used unless it's an emergency. You know how it is when you pray when danger is present and your life depends on help greater than ourselves. But then, we exercise our "send" muscle. In those times we only listen when we need a quick answer and a speedy solution. But I'm exercising listen muscles sans "emergency."

It's a different way to wait and calls for quiet beyond sitting solitary in a room lights dulled. It's pushing aside the immediate cries of the heart. You know "I NEED a job" or "I need money for these bills." Questions are asked differently in this quiet, questions like "I'm here for a reason..." "exercising my talents in this way is satisfying..."

Certainly money would be great but there are treasures to be had that exceed 7 or 8 digits proceeded by a $. I'm waiting for a response that changes the very flavor of life, a response that reorders parts of the whole. 

The attached image is in process, appropriately titled: "A Response." The background is red, though my point-and-shoot camera doesn't capture the depth of the red. I'm adding detail, slowly, in a way I have not done, previously. I see a semblance of a flower blooming, opening up, as though Spring and Light surrounded it. But I'm Listening as well, patiently moving pass interruptions and shallow wants and needs. There are words that are stated, seemingly falling on deaf ears. But the heart hears quite plainly and when the time is right all is arranged in a way evident to all.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I want to believe...

Not that I don't, not that I've had a severe drought of faith or that I doubt God will keep promises. It's that moment...that day when, seemingly out of the blue, it feels like the world is on the verge of cataclysm. Well, maybe that's a bit over-the-top. Maybe what I mean is in relation to ALL my hopes and the big dream, it seems like someone opened a chasm between that world and here.

It's my moment of crisis; the one where, for a minute, an hour, a day I hold with a tight grip, FEAR as though it were mine. It's that moment when I've lost sight of the constant reassurance, the reminders and the sense that my life has a purpose. And you know what? I'm not alone. Sure, we want to comfort one another and assure one another that "it's okay, God hasn't abandoned you." And yes, we should comfort one another with "these words." But everyone feels the same way. Everyone has those times when the bottom seems to fall out.

As adults we've become 'efficient' at going on. The more successful of us can get clean, dressed, and appear in any social setting, effectively suppressing our despair. But then again, nothing and everything can remind us of that sense of insecurity and dread.

We are a "solution-based" world; we want a fix, a resolution and we want it now! Stop this pain, and my misery! And yes, there are those who do nearly anything to dull the pain.

I want to believe...and I choose to believe. Though light does not appear in the immediate future, though it seems my prayers are thrown back in my face, though it feels like my life is less than yesterday's trash, I choose to believe. Sure, I want to cry out and present my case to God, reminding him that I'm here and I've been a good Christian, but there are times its best to sit with the pain. Sometimes, you just need to realize that yeah, I can still hurt, I still feel like I'm not worthy of anything good. And yeah, guilt, shame, and low self-esteem are part of my nature. And yet, when it's all said and done, I know my life counts for the greatest.