Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Lilacs... Fortune cookies... and Life
How do the subjects mentioned in this post title relate you might ask... and how do they relate to art? They do in a strange way... but perhaps just in my own world... or maybe not. Let's move ahead.
"Life must be lived forward, but can only be fully understood backwards."
I try very hard to live fully planted in the Present... as I suspect most of you try to do as well. Every self-help guru and their writings... every therapist... every minister... any counsellor offer that "moving ahead"... "not living in the Past" are essential to conducting a healthy and productive life. They all especially offer this advice in the face of major life crises such as loss of employment, failed personal relationships, serious physical illness, death and divorce. In these cases, the advice is sound and will eventually lead one to personal growth and healing.
The quote I have inserted in this post comes from a fortune cookie... a treat at the end of a meal at a favourite Chinese restaurant. Usually, I don't take them seriously at all... finding their quotes "hokey"... even barely humorous at the best of times. But in this particular case, the quote struck a chord within "Me"... resonating a Truth that "I" hadn't expected.
At my particular age... I must admit that I do enjoyably spend a fair amount of time searching back over my life and counting its many blessings... and disappointments to indeed try to understand how "I" arrived where "I" stand at present. I have already alluded to the fact that "I" am both grateful and satisfied with the outcomes of my life. "I" have made peace with my Self... and "Others" in regard to events that might have been carried out and dealt with better by "Me" earlier in my life.
A very poignant and insightful response to one of my postings prompted "Me" (in the last week) to take a "trip down memory lane"... back in time through the places I had lived in... seeking out and speaking to people I shared life with in those places. That trip... "alone" in my car over two days... with my own eclectic mix of music blaring... was truly a satisfying and uplifting experience. I was "alone" because my wife was visiting with her good son Spencer... his wife and Deb's two precious grandchildren, Ava and Ella in Yorkton, Saskatchewan. I had to go to Brockville, the hometown of both Deb and I... to pay a visit to my dentist. I needed to have my three month checkup and help staff there hang artwork. Some of that artwork was my own. Dr Peter Culp was my student in grades seven and eight and we have remained connected as friends since then. "I" admire Peter deeply for his achievement,loyalty and generosity to his family, staff and community. "He" stands as a living monument... that my teaching life was worthwhile... and that "The Power of One"... matters. Each of "Us"... can make a difference... even just with a simple kind act... a group of encouraging words... or a constant SMILE! These no-cost gifts DO... pass forward!
Since I had two days and no particular schedule except for my Tuesday 10:50am appointment... I "weaseled my way" along familiar back roads arriving at Camden East...a small hamlet where I had lived happily during the eighties. Both Allison and Andrew were born during those years and our home was the location of "The Gingerbread Gallery"... my first self-owned gallery. I talked to a couple of old friends... caught up on "all the dirt and dust" and then proceeded down the road to Kingston where we lived and I taught elementary school for twenty years. I revisited many of my old haunts... the "Home" on Grenadier Drive and Barriefield Village where I literally lived painting outdoors with my easel and my good painting pal Frank Edwards throughout every season during most of those twenty years.
Barriefield Village was, and still is... a quiet, off the beaten path space... an architectural throwback to Canada's earliest pioneer beginnings. Nearly all of the homes and buildings dated to 1812-50's and were the dwellings and businesses of the garrisons stationed at nearby Fort Henry. This large limestone fortress was constructed by the British to protect Kingston, the Rideau Canal and Upper Canada from the perceived imminent threat of American invasion. Today.. as a Parks Canada destination... it fully embraces the annual American and world traveller invasion... of tourists who visit to catch the breath-taking precision marching drills of its world class summer student "garrison". Today, the village has been restored and developed into a much more manicured enclave for Kingstonian professionals and their young families... but it retains its solitary nature and its Eden-like beauty... a sanctuary from the din of the city seen clearly below.
Spring is indeed my favourite time to be in Barriefield because lilac perfume is pervasive... no matter where you go in the village. Lilacs are everywhere... and in every hue of pink, purple and rich burgundy. The air is simply... intoxicating! Returning warblers and every variety of songbirds nest in the lilac thickets and fill the aroma rich air with choruses of song. It is an annual ritual that I have looked forward to every year in my painting life. "I" was overcome by the memories... sights... smells and sanctity of this truly magical homecoming experience. Every place... every person had indeed changed... but "I" was not at all affronted by these changes. Everything in life must change... as must "We"!
"I" look back over my journey and my experiences in these places and feel the richness of having had all of these life opportunities. "I" feel no sadness... melancholy... or regret in having to move forward... back to my current life. My Present is as well... rich and fulfilling, so "I" am most happy and thankful to return... "Home".
"Home" to "Me"... is not just a house. I have personally had many "Homes". It is a place in time... where one can return to spiritually... to reflect... find solace... and to feel the "Presence" still... of departed parents and friends of that space... even though Time has pulled "You" along. It is a sacred place "Within"... a compass point to guide one to a better understanding of their Present... with gratitude and closure.
I share a wonderous and constantly changing daily life with my truly wonderful and supportive wife and Soul Mate, Deb. We are both healthy in the Present... and now take joy in watching successfully launched children move out into their own unique and exciting worlds. Perhaps my writing might seem rambling... romantic and "too personal" for cyberspace. But it "is"... who "I" am... and wish to remain. "I" value Family... Friends and Children above all things. I have made a host of new and stimulating friends whom I have connected with through this blog. It is for this reason that "I" choose to post "Lilac Lullaby"... a bouquet of wonderful spring lilacs... as a personal "Thank You" to ALL of "You" for making my life richer.
None of us are ever truly "alone"... whether we were an "only child"... or whatever... unless we choose to be so. By reaching out and sharing our Time... our truest feelings... and our Art... "We" are "One" with the Universe... and with each other! To borrow a line from Neil Diamond's anthem Sweet Caroline:
"Touching "Me"... Touching "You"... and "We" do!
Good Painting to all!
PS The "sketch" included today is the first in a series of paintings that will owe their origin to the Barriefield adventure. Stay tuned....