spirit

The Great Balancing Act

Thoughts on Chaos and Calm

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Do you ever wonder when Americans slow down?

What habit have we, as a culture, perfected to offer enough literal and mental space to slow down and calmly, but thoughtfully, reflect on the subtle beauty of our world?

I am asking this question because I recently attended a Japanese tea ceremony demonstration and it left me feeling uplifted and gentler. I felt calm.

Expecting simply to sit on the floor and sip a cup of tea, I was astonished to be told that the tea ceremony itself is akin to performance art; that there is a theme to each event, that guests are honored and purified upon entering and that the (up to) 4 hours spent inside is time for host and guests to muse/discuss/contemplate beauty and tradition (more). Business discussions and world news are forbidden. The tea room is for contemplation about works of art, things of beauty, tradition, stories, myths, symbols. The guests are guided into the tea room where a particular scroll is hanging. The scroll sets the theme or tone of what’s discussed. There is a loosely placed flower/s in a vase. The flower chosen not for its hardiness but for the opposite; the guest admires this bloom knowing that that will soon fade and die. A suggestion and reminder of the temporal nature of life. The tea bowl is observed and carefully handled, its history felt in the hands, its beauty in form, function, and imperfection (more on that in another post).

There are so many levels of looking, reflecting, admiring, discussing that the ceremony becomes a hive of noticing things with a reverence not typically accomplished. The gathering pauses our chaotic drive towards goals and lets us revel in the fruits of our (and our fellow human’s) labors. We connect to those who have gone before us and who have added to our experience of our worlds.

Thank you Urasenke Chanoyu Center, NYC

Transcending the Mere Puddle

One of the great bi-products of being a pareidolia project hunter is finding rare and fleeting moments of magic in the most common of things. 

Click the video and you will see 12 seconds of incredible beauty. It's a puddle on a side street during an early morning rain. 

There's no editing, no filters, no placement. It is simply a few seconds of a puddle that transcends it's lowly status of filthy water. Tree refections create a landscape worthy of Corot; the moving water feels like a slightly sped-up tide; the sprinkling of real rain on the surface takes on the signature crackle of old film.

For just 12 seconds, get real quiet and peer into this other world. It's incredible. 

Weaving and Water

Ever wonder why you do things? Like, why you are naturally attracted to a certain type of movie or you pick one coffee shop over the other? And do you wonder whether people actually change over the years or if they are who they are at birth and onward. 

Like, you're a kid who obsessively puts together model airplanes from age 8-11 and then you get on with life and eventually become an accountant and join a fantasy football league. One day, it occurs to you: assembling model airplanes, cataloging numbers so they work, figuring out stats so your team wins. Your 50 years really don't make you that much different than you were as a kid. 

As a painter, I've painted seascapes for years. I thought it was because I loved Wellfleet, Cape Cod. I thought I was trying to reproduce the place in paint because I couldn't live there in person.

But years later, (now) I'm sitting at a loom, and as I sit there, pulling weft thread after weft thread through the shed, one after the other, inch by inch, I look at what I'm creating and you know, the result is not unlike my early seascapes. 

It got me thinking, is my love for seascapes really about a physical place on earth? Or, is it about creating a work with tonal movement, transformation, and shifts of visual bands of color?