It’s a simple enough thing that we all share, I think; ‘desire’ – for a thing, a person, a moment, a feeling, an event. The seeking, the craving, the wanting – certainly those feelings are part of my experience.  Not long ago, I participated in the simple search for ‘a tray’. An item. A thing. A functional purchase intended to fill an underlying need for … convenience.  Doesn’t matter what the need is, though, does it? Wouldn’t a need for information, or understanding, or change, or growth result in a similarly committed search? So, I went shopping with my partner, some time ago, for a simple tray of a certain ideal size, and the item just wasn’t to be found locally at all. We must have looked ‘everywhere’ – or what felt like ‘everywhere’ – and it just wasn’t. It was maddeningly frustrating. We eventually found one that was suitable, perhaps not ideal, and more expensive than seemed truly reasonable – but it was, and we accepted it, rather than delay the fulfillment of that need. There’s got to be a metaphor in there…because yesterday, we were just wandering about indulging our senses, and there they were – all the trays in the universe, stacked. lol. We didn’t need one.

Wishing, planning, and wanting...

Wishing, planning, and wanting…

I had a difficult weekend on some levels, but on others it was quite splendid. At one point, while I was walking from a starting point to a destination, I noticed a large patch of small mushrooms that had burst forth quite overnight. I thought for a while about that bit of life’s curriculum.  It seemed apropos and worthy of contemplation; the mycelium of a ‘patch’ of mushrooms is a living thing that in some species expands to cover a large area beneath the surface of the soil or whatever loosely covers it, expansive and unseen. Rain, sunshine, temperature, and other factors all influence precisely when a given type or patch of mushrooms suddenly fruits and becomes seen.  It’s a little like growth and change, isn’t it? I can read a book, I can study a lesson, I can do the exercises, but until ‘conditions are right’ those things don’t amount to new understanding, or change, or growth, or an epiphany.  I’ve been thinking about that a lot, and what it means for me with regard to learning new things, and pursuing new knowledge. I don’t have any witty or insightful conclusions; I keep pondering mushrooms.

What is valuable? What has meaning?

What is valuable? What has meaning? (detail from ‘Icon’ 2002)

I had occasion over the weekend to be struck by how many people in my life who had hurt me deeply, injured or traumatized me, or committed ‘great acts of evil’ against me, also prepared me for some future challenge in life, some greater understanding of something, or shared with me some indescribable bit of beauty: art, music, literature, poetry, sensuality, or experience.  It caused me to wonder a lot of things, not the least of which was – how do we determine what has value to us? Why can something we learned by rote as a child, and learn later is demonstrably untrue,be still likely to have such a hold on us over time, even nurturing the lies we tell ourselves, and complicating our understanding of the world around us? (Case in point: racism. I find very few people who are racist because they learned as adults that some race or another has some evident flaw that puts their safety or experience at risk. The racists I have been acquainted with learned it at home, from their parents and families, same with homophobia, and most other forms of personal bias.) How is it that we can gaze upon some gilded half-truth (or complete falsehood) passed down through generations and not recognize what is the true truth, the real reality? I thought about that some, too, this weekend. Still, no answers.

Fleeting inspiration...and nature shows.

Fleeting inspiration…and nature shows. (detail from “Inspiration” 2010)

I walked to work today, smelling the wet, fresh fragrances of spring garden and spring rain. I am inspired to paint; I have something in mind.  Everyday things keep getting in my everyday way… every day. lol. I could force the issue, throw down a drop cloth, drag my easel out of its hiding place, lay out my paints and brushes. I will. At some point. Eventually. For now, the stillness of mind that comes of simply contemplating inspiration is pretty satisfying.  In 16 days I will be 50. I have a few more things on my mind that painting, although the painting on my mind is relevant to my experience…it can wait.  Actually, it seems oddly much more ‘urgent’ to relax with my loves and watch ‘nature shows’ – those documentaries that are heavy on the exquisite photography of the world we live in, reassuringly narrated by some firm, calm ‘voice of reason’.  I remember with great fondness “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom” from my childhood…and Jacques Cousteau…and lately we’ve been enjoying “Life” (BBC, narrated by David Attenborough) and the “Wonders” series (also BBC, narrated by physicist Professor Brian Cox).  How is it I never get bored with that sort of thing?

Power, and clarity, and keeping it simple.

Power, and clarity, and keeping it simple. (“Eye of Horus” 1995)

I’m finding value in clarity and simplicity lately…not just in words, but in plans, and actions, and thinking, too. My thoughts and my eyes return again and again to simpler things; captivated by ‘now’. It’s more powerful than I could have known to put down the words and the thoughts and all manner of complicated tangles of hurts and yearnings and lost moments, and simply breathe and be. I don’t have any way to convince or persuade, or share with any real efficiency, what a strange sudden and abrupt turn all of life – my own, at least – seems to have taken, and in such a wonderful way, so I watch it all unfold. Observing. Being. Enjoying the stillness within the chaos.

What it is. (detail of "Emotion and Reason" 2012)

What it is. (detail of “Emotion and Reason” 2012)

So…still more questions than answers. 16 days to my 50th birthday. I don’t think I am ‘the same person’ I was even 6 months ago. I’m not interpreting that, or judging the experience, I’m just making an observation. Change is very real, isn’t it?  Where does the idea that some sorts of people ‘don’t change’, or ‘can’t change’, come from? I remember years ago being told that my violent spouse-at-the-time would likely ‘never change’… but I don’t know now how true such a statement can really be. I’ve changed rather a lot over the years. I don’t doubt that the risk of waiting around for some people to change might be unacceptably high, or too emotionally, physically, or financially costly… but ‘never’ is one of those words I understand to pretty nearly assure a logic fallacy right around the corner – ‘never’ is sort of big. So is ‘always’. Or ‘everyone’…How about ‘no one’?. I try hard to avoid those, especially during conflict. Even where there might be some slim chance of offering a logical proof, the likelihood such an argument would be productive is slim.  I’m learning.

Only 16 days to go… I guess at 50 I’ll be ‘a grown up’ for real… or so I was recently advised by a bright young man of 3 in the waiting room of a recent appointment. lol. He also suggested I would ‘be able to do anything I want’… that would be a hell of a birthday present indeed (I had to decline his offer that I could be his grandmother if I wanted to. lol).  I am more than satisfied with reaching that milestone in good company – that would be the ‘anything’ that I want; the affection of my loved ones, and the pleasure of their good company.