MULTIMEDIA! ME?

I can’t believe I have uploaded a video on You Tube!!! I am so not technical but necessity forced me to hunker down and figure out the MS Movie program and then You Tube. Holy cow! what next??? See my art blog for more info at http://MarieTaylorArt.wordpress.com.

Now that I’ve taken this first baby step in multi-media, I must admit to dreams of future grandeur.  Here’s the link-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSpgJ-PKNfU&feature=youtu.be

CHANGING TIMES

I woke up this morning at 6:30, my usual time, and as I drank my cup of coffee I looked out of the patio door. The sky was still inky black but the full white circle of the moon hung just above the horizon. We are sliding into the dark side of the year and next weekend will again institute daylight saving time, an extraordinary exercise of consensual agreement in a falsehood. For the next five-plus months we will all pretend it is earlier than it really is.

For the last month I have been deeply involved in painting and have chosen not to do much writing. Right now I am waiting for a new shipment of rice paper to arrive and feel at loose ends – not willing to undertake a new project, yet not finished with current work. In the last few days I have several times begun a new post but could not gain any traction in subject or direction. Therefore, I have cast both prerequisites overboard and decided to doggy paddle.

I went to the park this morning, something else I have not done for a while. As I sat at one of the picnic tables I saw six wild ducks circle and land in the small stream and a ‘flock’ of squirrels busy hunting and storing nuts. I have been yearning of late to live in an environment where nature was a little closer, where the occasional rabbit or deer might walk by or drop in.

As I pondered this I noticed out of the corner of my eye a young woman approaching. She wore a black skirt, bright pink top and sunglasses. Her long blonde hair complemented her wide smile and perfect teeth.  “I saw you sitting here and wondered if I might share a few verses of the Bible with you,” she said. I have always admired the courage (is that the right word) of the missionary. I would find it very difficult to go up to a stranger and pitch my beliefs – too much ego I guess, or fear of rejection.

She must have thought I looked lonely sitting by myself on a park bench at 8 in the morning so she chose a verse from Revelations about the coming end times and how when it was over all our tears would be wiped away. I nodded when she asked if she might leave me a copy of Watchtower. There was a   picture of a medieval tower on the cover with lightning bolts shooting out.

It reminded me of the 2012 Mayan prophecy that is all the news now.  The Jehovah Witnesses and other fundamentalists have been singing that hymn for a long time. Will anything happen on December 20? Are we living in end times or on the cusp of a great awakening?

While I can believe that our solar system is astronomically passing in a direct line to the galactic center of the universe (according to science), and I can believe that this passage may zap new cosmic rays into our genetic and electrical energy bodies resulting in a new level of consciousness (a la metaphysics), I do find it hard to believe that any great change, or new world order, etc. will emerge as a result. The horrors of the 20th century did not deter man’s aggressiveness, nor re-educate his thinking, so I doubt that the bombardment of intergalactic energies will make much difference.

Until Armageddon arrives I will turn my attention to the small and the present. My little Russian neighbors upstairs are up to something but due to our language barrier I am not sure what. I saw their daughter carrying folded cardboard boxes to their apartment the other day and wondered if they might be moving. This morning I saw both the Mr. and the Mrs. carrying filled boxes downstairs; however, they were not loaded in their car. What are they up to?

The thin hippy lady above me is complaining about someone smoking in the building which is bothering her allergies. She is enlisting the neighbors to track down the culprit and shame him into abstinence. My friend Gina of the tiaras has been fighting with her parrot Zorba who likes to steal her slippers and chew the carpet. Diane the constant complainer has turned her attention from the medical establishment to the apartment managers who have not reprimanded Diane’s upstairs neighbors for their noisy behavior.

And finally, Sweetie Pie. Last night as I was reading, my cat came over for her before-bed petting; about three in the morning she demands a mid-sleep tune-up. Sweetie Pie rarely leaves the patio to explore the yard and during the day she sits/sleeps as close to me as possible. I realized today that I am her whole world, her only real contact with another living creature. I am touched by her dependency.

So until my consciousness rises to new levels I will continue to bumble along as best I can, dealing with the small and inconsequential and leaving the weighty matters of galactic destinies to others.

WHAT IS ENOUGH?

(This post is also found on the art blog)

The other night I went with a friend to hear a (relatively) well-known potter talk about her work. She was exceptionally articulate about her process and vision and the small audience was very receptive.

Pottery/ceramics is one of the oldest art forms and the kiln is the tool of alchemical transformation changing what was once malleable earth into something solid and lasting. But I am not a big fan of some of the modern ceramic designs in which, to my mind, the spiritual and the beautiful has been replaced with gravity-defying cleverness or Dali-esque images.

This potter’s art pieces are massive and earthy; they are noted for their size/volume/weight and intricacy of design. There are tubes, ‘worms’, extrusions, pots, balls, gourd shapes, etc. all piled, organically twisted and turned within each other and bound in one large ceramic hill. I am tempted to say that everything is included but the kitchen sink but there were some glimpses of that too. Stop! That’s enough!

At one point she said she found the medium of painting too limiting and how she feels forced to crash through barriers. After watching a lot of slides and hearing her presentation I felt her enthusiasm and passion for what she did – and I could see flashes of interest or beauty in some of the pieces – but they were still too ‘extravagant’ for me. I felt a super abundance, a feeding frenzy of ceramic creation that left me feeling stuffed and uneasy. There was too much of everything.

During the question period I asked her “if there was a problem in knowing when to stop.” How did she know when a piece was done? This is a question I face all the time. She held out an imaginary glass and said with great authority that just as she knew when the glass was full of water, she knew when a ‘sculpture’ was done.

I must admit I felt a little foolish in the face of her certainty and confidence. Later in the evening I thought to myself, she must know what she is talking about – after all, she is very well-known and successful. I poked around the edges of the question. Was my ego smarting because her answer implied that any experienced artist knew when to stop – and that by extension because I had asked such a fundamental question I was obviously not a good artist?

Then two responses came to my attention. What is one person’s ‘just enough’ may be another person’s ‘not enough’ or ‘too much.’ And secondly, due to the nature of her art form, she could add and subtract elements of her art piece as she pleased until she found the stopping place, a point of balance.

In contrast, with ink wash art, every stroke of the brush is a final one. It cannot be changed, moved or removed. It is permanent. The most that can be done is that it can be layered by more ink. There is a great finality in ink work, a no turning back momentum. If I go a step too far in painting something, it is ruined or spoiled.

So my question to the potter was an irrelevant one for her. While she seemed driven to include as much as she could, I am driven to remove as much as I can. I find the setting of limits frees me to concentrate. By eliminating some choices my mind is not constantly weighing and judging alternatives and I can focus my energy on what is essential.

Every activity has its built-in questions. Should I add more salt? Should I round off this edge of marble? Should I cut this material on the bias? There is always a point of no return, a need to commit to a certain path, a particular focus. There is always a jumping off point into the unknown which contributes to the exhilaration of all creative activity.

(For Marie Taylor Ink blog followers:  I posted some new art work this week under Art Talk on the art blog at http://MarieTaylorArt.wordpress.com)

HEAVEN’S GATE

Monday, October 8, is/was my dad’s birthday. Although for a few years prior he had had various ailments, he died unexpectedly of his first and last heart attack when he was just 57 and I was just 15. That was over fifty years ago. I think of him on occasions such as his birthday and the anniversary of his death but there have been long stretches of time when he has not entered my consciousness at all but slipped away into the shadows of memory with all of the aunts and uncles and grandparents who went before or with or since his own departure.

Does my memory of dad keep a bit of him alive, and if I stop thinking of him completely is he then truly gone? If I call out to him, does he hear me and answer, and if he does answer, can I hear it? What happens to those who die before us? Even if their consciousness lives on in some other realm or dimension, are they at all cognizant of us, do they keep up on the episodes of our lives like a soap opera? When we remember them or think about them or miss them, do they sense it, know it, feel it?

I think of my own son Rob who died two years ago and also left a daughter behind who was 15 at the time. Fifty years from now will she also be remembering him as I remember my father and wondering where all the years have gone. When I was pregnant with Rob his expected birthday was the same as my father’s, but he delayed his arrival and came instead on the anniversary of his death. I wondered for many years if my father had come back to me in this new body to rearrange our relationship into new patterns.

And now that they are both gone, I wonder if they are together, these two who never met in this life, this grandfather and grandson, although the longing was great in each for the other – one for the son he never had, the other for the father who was missing. Are they together now? Is my dad perhaps explaining the intricacies of baseball and the superiority of the Yankees? Are he and Rob enjoying a day of fishing beside some heavenly stream stocked with trout? Do they talk about the children they left behind and how they loved them?

What happens after we die? I do not remember how or where I existed before this birth – will it be the same after this death? I understand that all form dissolves and I will take nothing with me on this most singular journey, but are memories things? Must they also be left behind with the houses and cars and diamond rings? Or are memories not of the mind but of the heart and therefore weightless, formless and impervious to the vicissitudes of time’s grasp?

When we at last leave the burden of aging and ailing bodies behind and our spirits spring like newly released birds into the heavens and we follow the straight arrow of light home, is there indeed a gate of pearls, which are the tears of the heart, and will all our loved ones be waiting to embrace us like a crowd on the platform of a train depot waiting for the returning hero?

As I get older these questions become more frequent and more pressing. Where once there was a fear or trepidation about death, there is now a growing curiosity, a desire to explore, to peek under the covers of this ancient magical mystery. As we took our journey into birth and this life alone, so shall we return and at the end of our journey I wonder what awaits.