Treasured Things

What’s trash to one is treasure to another, as it’s so often said. Few others are compelled to admire and delight in the same inventory of weird and ridiculous, horrendous and lovely things that speaks to me. My little mental attic is just as specific as anyone’s, and likely to be as unappealing to them as theirs would be to me.
Graphite Drawing: Treasured Things

But one of the pleasures of this individuality is the ability to share our stories about what’s stored in our unique vaults of ideation, whether in truth or fiction, and revel in our moments of visitation to unknown worlds through the tales. In writing, telling, reading, and hearing, we share and exchange ideas and beliefs, feelings and fantasies, insights and excitations with each other, all from the safe remove of communication that need not be wholly shared experience. After, we can choose to join in on the newfound interests and adventures, or we can choose to retreat to our own inner worlds, perhaps changed a little by the passage or, if not, only glad that we don’t have to dwell in each other’s lives and happy to return to the familiar comfort of our own favored inventories of thoughts and things.

A Whispering Medium

Silverpoint is relatively rarely seen nowadays, but it remains a delicate medium for drawing. Putting a point of real silver onto gessoed paper allows the same kind of fine detail and fragility to be expressed that are characteristic of harder graphite pencils’ work. The effect is of pale and careful imagery, a wisp of smoke, a mist, a whisper.Drawing: Silverpoint Apples

There’s an appealing air of the arcane to a medium that’s old and seldom used nowadays, and silverpoint qualifies on both counts. It’s also effective, as I found in my little experiments, on a black background to create gently ghostly drawings, but as ghosts seem wont to do, has a tendency to disappear at the slightest whiff of air, since oxidation darkens silver and it becomes less and less visible against the dark ground. Of course, that very ephemeral quality might be a further attraction, an encouragement to see the medium as a passing fancy best appreciated ‘fresh’ and gone in the blink of an eye.

Drawing: Silverpoint Blueberries

This is, after all, an age in which change comes at an ever-increasing speed and in growing quantities, and we become accustomed to nearly everything having the shelf life of a mayfly at best. We adapt, we move on. Yet we crave the sense of permanence and connection, so here I am marking in graphite over the top of the silverpoint as it fades, or scanning the images to enhance the contrast while it can still be seen. And while I still love the sense of tactile attachment and involvement that writing longhand, pencil on paper, gives me even when I’m up to my elbows in graphite dust, not to mention hoping that the neural connections such physical action reinforces better than keyboard manipulations will stay with me longer somehow, what do I do with my writings? Transcribe the scribbles to the electronic medium by sitting at my keyboard afterward anyway.

So passes our world; we labor with new tools to speed things up, revisit and relish the old methodology and tools to slow down and remember, and then run back to catch up with the new again. We, too, are ephemeral as faint images, as ghosts, and we feel our mortality even as we strive to make our marks on the world while passing through it. Our tiny voices and messages may be lost in the ether forever, and that, almost at the instant of their making, but the urge to tell our tales remains. Our little silver trails will fade, but we will have moved on elsewhere as well.

Abundance and Gratitude

graphite drawingAmong the essentials for a happy life, I consider the above named items some of the most meaningful. But I am often, rightly, reminded that these are as much matters of attitude as anything. Much easier, both of them, to qualify than to quantify.

Abundance, as experienced and demonstrated by many people I’ve known and seen who would be considered below a desirable economic level, is seen as having enough to survive, and just a touch to bring a guest to the table as well. That this means the main family’s subsistence is so much the sparser while a guest is on hand means little, except that the gift is commensurately so much the more generous.

For those of us with more considerable resources, I think the same attitude is worth the attempt. I should think through the difference between my actual needs and my wants, live within my means, and delight in the ability to share what I have with others. I’m not always nearly as good at this as I’d like, but think it a practice worth pursuing and improving over a lifetime.

Gratitude needn’t be limited to feeling I’m in the center of abundance, anyway. There’s no reason I shouldn’t be thankful for any and every good thing in my existence, even when the tenor of the times is set in a sparer and more trying mode. This, too, is simply a survival tactic on my part, as giving in to my dark instincts at bad times has no logical outcome but that I’d lie down and die. By choosing to actively and attentively seek out and recognize whatever kernels there are of goodness and light, I take away my focus from what lessens me and give myself a chance of relief. Better, I may see the glint of otherwise forgotten abundance, and that always makes me more grateful.digital illustration

It’s Still Life

Little is as desirable in day-to-day life as peace and quiet. Rest, respite, calm–I crave them. There’s so much invitation and welcome in the sweet marvels of time off, time out and down time that I never feel I have too much of, well, not-too-much.

But busyness is ever so much more common in our everyday existence in this century, certainly in this household. It’s no still life, to be sure; any silence found in this way of living is more of the deafening sort. But yes, it’s still life.

So I have to manufacture or steal my moments of rest and relaxation. Isn’t that how most of us end up finding our tiny increments of space and time and sanity anyway? I have to learn how to tune out the white noise, hide from the constant demands and burrow into hidden corners when and wherever I can, to choose deliberately to decompress and unwind. If I don’t make room for my own peace of mind, who’s going to give it to me? The world may rattle on around me at a furious and eardrum-shattering rate and all I know may change in the ten minutes I’ve stolen to renew myself, but I will return to those realities soon enough, and hadn’t I better do so in a fortified state than otherwise?

Better to sit down and tell myself soothing tales undergirded with lullabies, to draw myself a little old-fashioned still life arrangement in the calm unruffled grey of graphite, and breathe deeply without regard for the bustle and bash of the universe, if only for a moment or two.graphite drawing

Sunday Sun Day

Moving past the winter equinox and the ensuing lengthening of daylight’s hours bring with them a subtler grace along with that of the elongated waking time. With the natural increased light can come a lightening of spirit that is a welcome internal forerunner of the earth’s return to Spring. So it is for me, today.

drawing/digital image

Sleepers, Awake!

On the morning’s southeast drive, through familiar freeway worlds newly cleansed and made somehow forgivably softer by the recent rains, we were no longer suspended in the grey soup of overcast, mist and downpour but immersed instead in a palely pearly, glowing haze lit by the hot orange disk of a flat new sun. Every shadow seemed gentler and sparkled with morning-flitting birds. The quiet of the early time was both more welcoming and more profoundly silent in its way.

I found these same things filled me up, as well. Inwardly smiling on the world like a lesser peaceful sun, I felt a contentment long dormant begin to cradle my being again, singing subtle comfort and bidding me to a meditative state almost forgotten in recent harried weeks. Perhaps my winter is drawing to a close.

Surely the appearance of washing and nourishing rains and the following benison of the returning sunlight makes it easier to turn a kindly eye to the rest of the world. The peeping pairs of seedling leaves in planter and flowerbed renew my sense of living in a sweetly Possible world. The growing days teach me to be more patient–what must be accomplished, somehow, will.

I know as well: if I choose, I can relearn my inward calm, reclaim my lighter self. I can return to that place of familiarity where I fit in, and welcome others too, and start the long, slow, happy climb from winter’s night into the daylight of my springtime soul. Ever so gently and gradually so. Sun or no sun, the inner light can glow again if I tend it thoughtfully and wait.

digitally doctored drawing

The familiar comfort of inner contented calm can return . . .