"I am not a teacher, but an awakener."
Robert Frost, American Poet
The words in this quote are as powerfully clear and evocative to "Me" this morning, as I sit typing this post... as they were fifty seven years ago when I first heard them in Don Taylor's Grade Thirteen English class. They were spoken by Frost himself that May afternoon.... but in a film short that Don used to help motivate us to better understand his own love of Frost's poetry. That love was so very visible(to "Me" at least) through his body language and the lilt in his every word... as he read daily excerpts to us from the curriculum prescribed "Death of a Hired Man." It was in those precious days... now so long ago, that so much of the "Me" was born. It was to be my first epiphany - a pivotal event of enlightenment and the source of the river upon which I have journeyed ever since.
The word has such power and potential for each of us. Most all of us are fortunate to actually have a physical voice, and moreover, we are even more fortunate to have been born in countries and in a democratic society (more or less), where "freedom of speech" exits and is guaranteed in our Charter or Constitution. We are indeed... all of us deeply blessed! However, as in all things in life paradox exists in regard to word power and free speech. Words can be used powerfully in a negative fashion as well and are deeply damaging when used thus. We have all been subject to the pain and humiliation at some point in our lives to such abuse and misuse. It is the tool of the "Bully"... and promotes and engenders only negatives such fear, hatred, mistrust and humiliation. But let's not dwell on these negatives. Let us rather return and ponder the "Power of One"... made possible by the equal playing field which freedom of speech offers.
Our blog world and the Internet are powerful agents to encourage and enable any individual to use their voice... whether verbal or visual, as a resource to reach out to and touch the lives of other individuals who seek knowledge and share a similar passion. In our case, it is the Arts. It is not only a gift or privilege to be able to play an active role in this network, but that privilege also carries a responsibility to contribute... to share and to inspire others. I know only so well, that so many will consider this absurd - that their "voice"... their art doesn't really matter, nor does it "measure up" to the contents of so many of the sites they visit regularly. I'm not so sure that this post can much change that sad state for each individual who might take the time to read this, but I write it to challenge and offer it as more food for thought. I offer it in the same manner which I offered it in each and every class I was a learning partner in over twenty-seven years.
The word "teacher" has always made me cringe... though I possess a certificate which unequivocally states that I indeed hold the qualifications described to characterize such a position. However, on occasions I fell well short of that responsibility for too may reasons... most far beyond my wish for that to have occurred. Like Frost, I have always viewed my Self as "an awakener"... an enabler... an empowerer, or more simply, a resource in the learning environment. This blog site has become... out of pure choice a virtual classroom / studio, a space or forum... where "I" invite people to come out of their own free will... to participate and to share their own ideas and learning - along with "Me."
In this environment, each of us has an equal ability and responsibility to contribute... without fear of disapproval.... judgement or having to compete. It is my hope... that everyone (including my Self) takes something away with them to consider further and perhaps use to further their own art process and personal lives. The curriculum is not prescribed... it is varied and knows no boundary. It can travel where it must... and will not be subject to testing and grading. The "test" will be "passed"... each and every time that an individual can put into positive use... any piece of learning or encouragement gained here... through their own need...hard work and perseverance.
My purpose today and in each post that I write is to inspire and Empower. I never intend it to impress with my own knowledge. If I manage to encourage thought, I will have passed forward that inner feeling of joy...elation and success which "I" now possess. Joy is a blessing... found only through sharing. Seeing that Joy felt... in the hands and hearts of others perpetuates that feeling for the Self. It is the main reason why my own feeling of Peace and Contentment has become so consistent for "Me." It is also why I am saddened when I see and meet potentially "good" individuals... yet must withdraw out of the fear of being drawn into their hapless existence.
I know that Adversity plays a huge role in causing those dreaded "D" words... discord... discouragement... dishonesty... distrust... despair... depression, and yes... eventually for all of us... . Death. Again, life is driven by Paradox. In order to feel Joy... one must understand the pain of all of these "D" words. However, I offer that Adversity (and I have created much of my own during my life time), most often is construed as a force acting unfairly against each of us, can be harnessed and used to propel one forward, as opposed to holding one back. Seen in this way, Adversity becomes the fulcrum - a point of balance between becoming complacent... or if left unchecked... a state of being overwhelmed. Adversity is then an opportunity to make significant choices, or changes to better one's lot. Adversity can then be viewed as a place to depart in a new direction, using revaluation as a tool to reset our compass and to depart on a new and better journey.
Adversity is no stranger in my own life, but I choose not to dwell upon the Past... it is gone. I worry less about Tomorrow, simply because it has yet to arrive. "I" choose... to live in the Now! Today, I know that I will settle into and likely finish a portrait that I have been working at off and on... for too long. I am NOT a portraitist... which is mainly the reason for the uncharacteristically slow finish for\ me. But it is a He(art) gift for a Friend, and I have as deep a need to send it to "Her"... as "She" has to receive it. Do you see the model and mantra in action here?
"Me".... enabling "You"... to enable "Me."..............a full circle... and this gifting keeps turning and will not end - EVER!
In my last post, I mentioned that I had written it in its entirety because I was so effected by the words, "What's the point?" Since then, Pauline and "I" have shared supportive and encouraging (to us both) emails back and forth. She thanked me for the encouraging words in the post and said that our Friendship meant a lot to she and her husband. That is equally true for Deb and I. She and her husband is soon to retire from a long and often arduous policing career look forward to that moment... but that sense of joy will be significantly tempered by family responsibilities they must shoulder at this time as well. They share much in common with Deb and I in terms of values, need and respect for Family, cooking, the outdoors... and of course painting... which was the initial contact point between Pauline and I. All else has grown from that initial interest... passion and sharing. That is the true power and real magic of creating and sharing one's art. It creates the vast opportunity for Friendship.
I know that Pauline holds my art in high regard... and I am grateful for her encouragement and support. But therein lies a distinct danger. I believe that she rates herself and her art below mine... even though I do not. She has found passage into her art expression initially through tole painting... which dedicates itself out of a tradition to use art decoratively onto objects. It is a precise and demanding form, like calligraphy in some ways. It requires much practice to gain the skills and flourishes which the style demands. Pauline is truly highly skillful... diligent and produces still life subjects which I admire... no covet. HA HA! So strange as it might seem to "Her"... "I" am in awe of her skill and abilities in that genre. But I continue on my journey... content... and focused on what I love passionately. Painting the Canadian Landscape... and in particular... painting it... en plein air. My choices do not supersede the importance or my recognition of her accomplishments... or those of any other artist in my life
Pauline has encouraged me to think about writing a book. I have already done so... and intend to do so again when the timing is right . Life is ALL about timing Pauline! But the time is Now... and Now I would like to use your words ...and the words ( via a You Tube video that I have included at the top of today's post) that you sent me... the beautiful and eloquent words with which I choose to close off today's post. "I" thank "You" humbly... for this very important story to share with my Friends. Hopefully, if it strikes the same chord it did for us they might pass it forward for others to enjoy.
Here's my own version of "The Goose Story"... and the language is purely visual. Can you read the symbols? "I" wonder.................
.""Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever
- Mahatma Gandhi
"And I have miles to go... before I sleep... and promises to keep."
"Upon Stopping By the Woods One Snowy Evening"
Whether Poetry... Art... Video or Song... ALL are legimate expressions which united with a common purpose and message form a mighty and powerful alternative to Despair! Let's work together!
Happy Learning... and living... many blessings and...
Good Painting... to ALL !!