Wednesday, January 22, 2014

January 22, 2014 Drawing

When I first sit down
To begin
I might be overwhelmed
Aware only
Of the whiteness of the paper
The immensity
The endlessness

Then aware of the marks
I make
How they are like
The twigs I see
On the bare trees
Of winter

Then back to the whiteness
Of the paper
How like blinding snow
In the arctic
Like Shackleton
I am the explorer
My goal
A destination
But I remember
The importance
Of the journey

Along the way
I will visit
Many places
Some I know by heart
Some I have only visited
Some I have only dreamed

I will see
Many people
Some are loved ones
Some I have only
Passed on the street
Some I have only dreamed

Thoughts materialize
Then disappear

Yet all these things
Become a part of the work
A part of me
And as you look my work
They become a part of you

Not whole or complete
As they were originally
But bits and fragments
Which together
Become a new image

And if you are looking
At my drawing
You share my mind
You too
Are the image

Note:  I write this in response to Sarah Gillespie’s blog About the Primordial Darkness.  She says, “At its deepest level, any poetic utterance grows out of a desire to overcome loneliness, to share experience.”

She says,”...rather than the centers of thought and intention, we believe ourselves to be, we are more like an opening of consciousness watching our thoughts as the arise and pass away.  ...thoughts, like us, become present, pass away into absence, (for surely everything does pass away,) become present and return again into emptiness.

 Drawing is not so very different.  When we sit down with charcoal and paper, thoughts, (from petty discomfort to grandiosity,) come and go, come and go, come and go, until little by little we become absorbed in the magnificence of what is before us.  The thoughts settle, if we let them, concentration deepens and be come empty of our ‘selves’......we become absence to the overwhelming presence of what is before us. 

As we go on looking and making marks, working from the white of the paper to the carbon deep darks, concentrating but not thinking, we become emptier and emptier and, simultaneously, fuller and fuller.  There is no separation.  Absence deep enough and still enough becomes as a mirror; and the mirror is just one more among the ten thousand things perfectly reflecting the forest, the rising sun, passing crows like fragments of the dark, these thrown into the sky.  We become filled up with the muffled sounds of the coots, the smell of damp leaves, the slight warmth of the winter sun on our faces, the taste of tea from the flask we’ve packed for the day’s work.  I – a person with history, concerns, lists of things to do – for those hours, am not.  I am only woods and water.  Nothing more and nothing less.

If you are awake and watching this sunrise and the threads of gossamer strung across the primordial darkness of these damp winter alders, or maybe if for five minutes you are looking at this drawing, you share my mind.  You too are woods and water, coot and winter sun, breeze and shadow.”

She says she is indebted to David Hinton and his wonderful book Hunger Mountain for clarifying some of her thoughts on the experience of looking contained in this post.

No comments: