Sunday, March 4, 2012

Circumstantial Evidence

colored pencil
© 2012 Rob Dunlavey
It's been a lackluster winter. Spring is officially a few weeks away and the birds are tuning up for the Concert de Printemps. We've had maybe, three snow "events". I don't think the word "storm" really applies here. But, last winter, I was out in all weather merrily sketching away. This winter, all I want to do is lurk in the greenhouses and draw plants.

All things have their season I guess. All enthusiasms have their predictable arcs: discovery, newness, imperative and  eventual ennui. And then it's time to be alert to new experiences and things that just feel right to do and follow. The creative life is full of these transitions. Maybe the result will be a renewed purpose and vigor for the old disciplines. Maybe it's a time to get back to some long neglected idea. Or maybe a new approach will engender something new altogether. I only know if I'm in it when I'm actually in it and the shore is receding and the boat is slapping the oncoming waves and the wind blows back my hair.

Tangent to this basic train of thought, I need to tell you about an excellent book I just finished: "Dante in Love" by A.N. Wilson (review by Tom Payne in The Telegraph). How does it relate to a drawing of a few cacti? If we are lucky, our creative lives are long and they will reflect and be evidence of where and how we have been, what we've been up to and what seemed to matter to us. And this means that our lives will be full of contradictions, things said in sharp clarion contrast and other moments of obfuscation and cluelessness. But my life, if lived well, however long or short, will include evidence of an engaged life like Dante's perhaps. How could it be otherwise?

It may be apocryphal, but Thoreau, on his deathbed was asked if he had "ended his quarrel with God". To this the philosopher answered that there had never been a quarrel at all. So be it!

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