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February 25, 2020

from Radioactive Painting, by Bronwen Mayer Henry

There are so many parts of life that unfold with time.  This also happens at the canvas or while writing, It is true in marriage and in parenting.  And it is true in prayer.  There are key milestones and rituals that are singularly important, but most of life happens through daily repetition.  Gretchen Rubin, in her podcast Happier, has described this well: “What you do every day matters more than what you do once in awhile.” The everyday part matters.  The choosing kindness again and again.  The choosing commitment again and again.  The choosing to show up and be present, to offer care, to be bold, to do your best, to keep going even though you aren’t sure of the destination. There is always a moment when I look at a big canvas, even with my preliminary sketch on it, and think, “Oh my, where do I even begin?” So I begin somewhere small, doing a little work.  Then, with time and repetition of effort, it all comes together.  By painting a little bit each day, I get somewhere.

—Bronwen Mayer Henry, Radioactive Painting

February 11, 2020

from Oblique Music by Elizabeth Bodien

I relish
for today
being unknown
no one in this city
can call me by name
— Elizabeth Bodien, Oblique Music

February 10, 2020

from On the Arts, by Naomi Beth Wakan

Solitude isn’t loneliness; it’s different. With solitude, you belong to yourself. With loneliness, you belong to no one. You choose solitude, you drift into loneliness. When you experience loneliness, you’re not happy about being alone; the reverse is true when you experience solitude. Solitude is a paradox, for in its depths one realizes that, though alone, one is linked to everything.

Loneliness is being painfully alone, existing in an impoverished state, and feeling that the action is always somewhere over there. I remember after a long meditation period abroad, on the liner coming home, friends knocked on my cabin door and asked me why I wasn’t where the action was. I recall telling them, “The action is here.” On looking back, I see that moment as a very liberating one. Isolation kills. It can certainly tip one into illness. The obvious one is depression, and anxiety follows on its heels. 

Solitude is the enriched state of being alone. But it is not just being on your own. Solitude is you experiencing yourself, providing yourself with sufficient company. You can attain the state of solitude by having a certain independence from day-to-day matters. We need solitude to find a balance that daily life knocks askew. 

—Naomi Beth Wakan, On the Arts

February 6, 2020

from On the Arts, by Naomi Beth Wakan

One needs a reason to survive and mine is curiosity, the curiosity of a child wanting to know how the story will end. Can curiosity possibly be my survival tool? It would be so convenient if it was.

—Naomi Beth Wakan, On the Arts

February 5, 2020

from On the Arts, by Naomi Beth Wakan

If we start by considering the very beginnings of the creative act, we find that the first strange and often confused feelings of excitement can build up to American scholar John Livingstone Lowes’s “surging chaos of the unexpressed.” Here we have the ill-defined yearnings, the vague idea, glimpses of an image. It can feel like boredom, but with a strange distant tug. It’s as if a passing phrase we have read germinates inside us; the sound of distant bells stirs up an image; two colors oddly juxtaposed stay with us and dive underground to fertilize each other. . . . 

There may be a problem to be solved running around in your head, and a vague feeling may be the germ of an answer. Even though it is only a hint, a slight feeling at this moment, it still must be noted if it is to manifest at all. There is a heightened awareness that something is happening. Yet it can’t be grabbed or looked fully in the eye, for like a pixie, it will vanish immediately if you try to confront it. One has to stay in an almost trance-like state, an unfocused, eyes-half-closed state, giving the creative impulse time to pace itself. This incubation period may last minutes, days, or years. It demands patience on the part of the creator until things become clearer, for the conscious can handle the known, but not the unknown. It is almost as though the artist has to step aside and surrender to the process. Too much forcing or use of one’s conscious will can result in a sadly misshapen birthing.

—Naomi Beth Wakan, On the Arts

February 4, 2020

from Relationship Determines Decision, by Peter Hoheisel

Sometimes just as the train
Vanishes into wherever,
Our previous passions and pursuits,
Simply fade into unimportance.

And sometimes they return as memory,
In strange new ways,
Fresh configurations
Of shining possibility,

And sometimes as shadows,
Scars and bruises
Which cause pain in fresh ways.

—Peter Hoheisel, “The Man on the Lake” Relationship Determines Decision