Recently the question “what is love” google-ranked into the top ten question searches. Who’s asking? Who isn’t?
What is love? That depends on what time it is.
Is it the time when the great noise parted — the only sound — the breathing of you and another? Whose dilate eyes held in them all your healing and possible death. Who captured your soul with their fingers?
Is it the time — fifteen years in, goldfish crackers crunched to floor, high on exhaustion, child echo in your ears, when you look to your partner and feel a sense of long-lived loyalty.
Is it the time after you’ve thrown a rose down an earthen box, heard it soft thump. Tasted your tears and groped around to find some feeling to name? A duty — and still is love.
The truth is — love grows and dies on the same tree — our lives. We have a myriad hearts we’ve encaged to many people and things. And our several loves, delicate hued, have a variable shelf life. Your limited number of hearts, your time-limited love. To lavish on others, to lavish on ourselves.
We want to be free, but we want to be loved. One condition opposes the other. And the struggle between the restrictions of love and the care of self are paid in seconds ticking by. We make choices. So the cage door closes and the cage door opens. The joy close. The sorrow open.
These intricate economies of time and passion we call love.
I haven’t fallen in love for awhile. Don’t have the time. Probably not the emotional energy either.
But here I’m crushed.
Love at first sight, when I didn’t believe in love at first sight.
It’s a still life, but I didn’t recognize that at first. The surging lines and the color. Still life’s are usually. . . so still and this one has all the right moves. Sexy even. Line meets color. Two distinct elements, separate then join together in overall composition. Line teases your eye out then the color pulls you back to center. Two to tango.
I may love it more than — my iphone.
I’m not a fan of resolutions – I find them flimsy and limiting. Trying to “solve” life or “re-solve” life is a perilous venture potholed with frustration.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t try to reflect over the year and evaluate (This year I liked. . . )
Find areas for improvement (I wish. . .)
Isolate the things that worked to redouble efforts for success next year (What if . . .)
Accurate feedback is helpful – possibly life changing. One small study found that people who write down their goals more often achieve them. http://www.dominican.edu/dominicannews/study-backs-up-strategies-for-achieving-goals
Yet -I’m making a case for following this year. Artists already know the power of following. Follow inspiration to see where it leads. Allow ideas to unfold and evolve. Watch your creativity and ask how you can help it. Rather than ironing intention into a sentence to stick on the mirror/fridge for future castigation. Balled up and crushed in the trash by March.
Resolutions are limited by self-judgement – powered by self-discipline. People who are good at judgement and self-discipline profit from the model. The rest of us must follow – our passions, our ideas, our “what if life was like. . . this?” I’m for drawing a picture in your head (or paper) of what you want, and following that.
If you have an ambition – what does it look like? If you have a joy, find its color and keep close. If you feel trapped, cut out a door. If you are aimless, craft an arrow.
To pictures of a new year and a long swig of champagne. Cheers friends!
Robert Creeley, “I Know a Man” from Selected Poems of Robert Creeley. Copyright © 1991
Watch the structure of this poem – how the words veer and weave. The poem itself feels like a car on the edge of control. Speeding between desperation and the need for some kind of personal efficacy against the unknown (or whatever you interpret as the “darkness”).
Clemente paints Creeley with one eye open, a wink and a nod perhaps to both his clear insight as a major modern poet and his characteristic humor in confronting life’s big hairy questions.
Enjoy both friends!
Which came first -the elephant or the egg?
I like obstacles. They tell on me. Study your obstacles – what tale do they tell about your thinking? Elephantine obstacles require a great force of self to move, but many are completely mind made up.
In this totem, the elephant balances on a lavender egg. The elephant, remover of obstacles – is at once young and old – timeless leathered skin defined by burls in the underlying wood.
In motion. Maybe she was laid off – again. Maybe he holds divorce papers – again. Maybe she heads a faltering company or he’s losing a major client. These two-ton obstacles to happiness force us into motion. This elephant puts one uneasy foot in front of the other and though vulnerable, balances between hope and despair. She will make this egg take her where she wants to go. Perhaps finding (while plodding) a new direction. We don’t know how, but she will.
The bird, however, is stuck. Staring down a small black egg entirely avian made. Some dark ritualized judgement grounds her from flying free. A perceived tragic flaw, “I’m unlovable,” or “I’ll never reach my goals.” “I’ll always be _________. “I’m the worst ________.” Her wings pinned back. Cawing complaint.
But I see potential in this obstacle egg. Potential to find the thinking flaw. Black egg thoughts have a shady “all-or-nothing” ultimatum-ish type character – a dead give away. Hold on! I’m not the *worst* parent in the world. I messed up this time, but next time I’ll handle it differently. (deep breath)
Now we flex our wings. Now a dark egg cracks. Opens up to new and brightly life.
Free as a bird.
Yet a wing is subject to wind.
I like the color palette of this painting. I like vibrant but restrained – to watch what happens when choice is self-restricted. Maybe all workable freedom slipstreams on limitation.
Much maligned Boundary often brings with itself a double dose of the Creative. Because you can focus on the intricacies a particular problem (or medium) rather than the massive weight of what to choose. That limitation frees up lots of bandwidth. It’s an interesting conundrum of life, standing at the intersection of spontaneity and restriction.
Someone asked me the other day, “What would you do if money were no object.” And really I couldn’t even answer. I have no idea what I would do. Be immobilized by the vast space of potential. Wait for the wind to lift me, sightless and hurl me forward. Then maybe some necessary brilliance would unfurl. Because it seems my creativity only works against a foe -some absurd rule that deserves a good right-brained spanking.
Oh, there’s a chandelier underneath those washed and dripping strokes. A little structure under all that freedom, to hold it up – to give it a roosting place.
Allow me a moment to comment on this confounding binarism I find sandwiched between my toes.
It’s often called “black and white” thinking – the penchant of some people (me) to frame solutions in “either/or” scenarios. Do you want the pink one or the blue? This is either good or it’s bad. It’s the best thing that ever happened, or the worst. Whitman or Dickinson? Male or Female?
I have a major problem with binarism – it’s FALSE. The word “or” should be the warning light – the wake-up-and-smell-the-coffee someone is boxing up the choices. I don’t want cream or sugar – I want both, or stevia, maybe tea. A nice cup of lapsang souchong, perhaps? If we can generate multiple choice in our drinks, what about for other life challenges.
OR limits creativity to generate multiple solutions. I regularly pick up an everyday object (a mug) and think, “what could this be other than mug?” (vase, penny jar, pencil stand, plant pot, light fixture, toad house, soup or cereal bowl, jewelry holder, baling bucket, soil scoop, bug catcher, metaphysical mood meter (is glass half empty/half full?), inspiration piece, homing beacon)
I can see dividing imagined best case/worst case scenarios into a tidy binarism. To envision yourself toward a goal (sometimes frustrating) or to prepare yourself for the worst. Possibly helpful.
What about in-betweens? Hello! options not mentioned. Consider your job, done in a different way, in a different place. What’s the yellow solution, the blue idea, the green daydream? What if your choosing were colors, we wouldn’t settle for just black or white.
Yes there’s something called option anxiety – so we distill choices down to two. To short cut an otherwise too lengthy decision making process. Point taken. But.
Do you want limits or unlimited ? I’m kicking OR to the curb.