Listening - watching
taking a moment
drawing the world
finding the way to connection
again and again.

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Friday, December 21, 2018

Wandering on Inish Mor

I took a ferry out to Inish Mor,
the largest of the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland.
I explored its ancient fields and low hills,
steering away from the weekend crowds gathering at the dramatic forts,
wandering instead through lonely tumbled down stone enclosures
and early Christian ruins.

One day I walked for hours as the cyclists and cars whizzed past
and the tourist horse carriages clip clopped by.
I was moving slower than everyone.

Then I got off the road and followed a grassy path through the fields.

I was looking for a corbelled beehive hut, a clochán dry stone house,
believed to have been home to solitary monks in early Christian times.

When I found the beehive there was no one around.
This was a quiet place.

I knelt down to enter its oval form.
The opening was low.
I crawled inside.

I sat in the softly lit space, light coming through the low doorways.
Then I lay down, stretched out, relaxed my body,
sinking down, breathing deeper, drifting off . . .

I woke to a rustling sound outside - another walker arriving ?
Scrambling out into the sunlight
I discovered a white horse nuzzling my backpack.

The horse and I nuzzled each other.
We walked slowly around the low stone walled field together.
Then I said goodbye - to the horse and the beehive -
and headed back to the village, to the people,
to the pubs humming with music and conversation,
feeling steadied from the quiet -
the encounter -
this ancient place.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Drawing in Ireland

It sounds like such a nice idea -
but it takes a certain brave leap to do it,
stepping into that unknown relationship with the world - and one's self -
and letting something land on the page.

Here is what landed as I wandered around Ireland in October.
Each time I drew (sometimes just for a few minutes) I felt better, more engaged with my life.
and each object I spent time with reflected back some quality in me.
The words I added revealed why I had chosen that thing to be with.

My drawing process takes some courage to enter,
stepping into dialogue with a resonant object .
What is my connection to it ? Can I meet it ? Will it meet me ?
I finally jump in, the pencil touches the paper, begins to move
as my eye touches the object - eye and hand joined.
And then some magic happens.
I am with this world, the world is with me,
reflecting who I am and why I chose this thing.
I know it now - I know myself.
The world and me together.

I wandered around the Archaeological Museum in Dublin one afternoon,
gazing on the ancient shapes - waistbands, necklaces, earrings
that seemed scaled for enormous bodies - who WERE these people ?

I stop in front of a simple mount (perhaps for a belt or clasp ?)
and trace the pattern - settling in . . .

Time stretches out and then suddenly it's five minutes to closing.
I gather three simple strong forms on the page -

At the Decorative Arts Museum I walk into the Asian gallery
and pause in front of this cheerful bird. I bring the shape into the sketchbook.

The next day I take the train west to Galway and walk on the promenade along the wide bay.
There are people swimming in the frigid water ! I point this out to an elderly woman as we
both stand under a shelter waiting for the rain to pass. She says, in that lilting Irish way,
"Oh yes, I swim everyday. Keeps me healthy. Never get a cold !"
My impression of her completely opens and changes.

The rain stops. I see a high hill in the distance and decide to walk there -

As I find my way along the rocky beach empty of people I being to worry that the tide will rush in
and I'll be trapped. Then I worry that I'll stumble, sprain my ankle, not be able to move.
When I make it to the top of the cliff and lean over the edge I worry that the ground
will give way under me. So many worries carried along !

It is windy, cold and bright up there. I open the sketchbook and catch some of the moving lines
with my pencil - no time for color (will add that later ) just a moment of touching the page.
I pack up and head back down the hill. The ground does not give way,
the tide does not entrap, the rocks do not throw me off.

I make it all the way back to a warm cafe just as the sky opens and the rain starts up again.

Friday, March 16, 2018

A Story about Fear and Drawing and Opening

I spent some time in Mexico - San Miguel de Allende - this past month.
I wandered around this interesting town, sketching a bit, but what I really enjoyed
were the private salsa lessons I was taking.
It felt like a brave and joyful activity - relational, creative.

I got a listing from my teacher Fernando of some social dancing spots in town
and I ventured out one night to a rooftop bar with the Parroquia church spire in view.
But I had the time wrong and it was going to be an hour before the live music
started and my friends arrived (hopefully).

I ordered a glass of wine and waited.

It was hard to sit there alone - I tried not to panic and leave.
Many minutes passed . . .

Then I remembered I had a folded piece of paper and pencil in my purse.
I took them out and began to draw the cathedral tower in blind contour - not looking at the page -
just following the forms - my attention completely with the thing itself.

I wrote next to the drawing -

Then I realized I hadn't described the church tower - so I added on either side of it -

And at that moment I knew I was describing myself -
"Many chambered - silent - calm" and something settled inside -
I was fearful - and also calm . . .
I looked out at the people around me and noticed something new - like a veil lifting -
and wrote at the bottom of the page -

All of us - just like me.

Two minutes later my friends Maureen and Michael arrived - the band started up -
the dancing began. I went up to a man who was sitting alone. I put out my hand and said -
"Would you like to dance ? "

And I joined in the connection and flow and happiness.

Here is the whole page !