Wonders

Our power in our later life 

will give birth to many wonders

 So says William Martin in his book The Sage’s Tao Te Ching, Ancient Advice for the Second Half of Life. Does this mean that in my case I will write the great American novel or an epic poem that sets the world on fire? Will my pastel and paint meanderings astound the jury at the Whitney? On some level, I’d like to think so. But I have learned to interpret those two short lines in a different way, and these are the wonders that are beginning to birth in me as I grow older: a need to look more deeply and see more clearly, to listen more completely, to wait more patiently, to embrace solitude and silence, to cherish people instead of things and moments instead of hours, to judge less harshly, to desire less adulation and acquire more empathy, to give consolation rather than seek it, to ask for help when I need it, to simplify the life around me and enrich the life within.

The creative process at this time is an expression of these areas of growth, just as it was always attune to whatever was going on at any particular stage of my life. In high school I drew portraits of friends. Later, it was paintings of my children and a fascination with the human figure. This obsession with solid form and life by the ocean grew into rock scapes, and it continues today. Yet I can definitely see why older artists tend to veer toward the abstract, for it is beginning to pull at me as well. What is going on in later life is often so internal that there is no concrete way to express the whole of it. Wonders is as good a description as any.

 

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At The Edge   Pastel, 44 1/2” x 30″
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On Trial

Trials are part of life, but sometimes they’re extended and severe and we have to teach ourselves how to survive within them. In the present turmoil of our world, when so many are being driven from their homes and we cannot understand or condone the senseless and mean-spirited actions of those in power, there seems little to make us hopeful. Yet now more than ever people of any age need to make an effort to hang onto whatever  joy and peace they can through their individual or joint creative efforts.

Entering that state of flow that comes when we are entrenched in our writing, painting, or music-making can help us remain calm, reasoned, and even hopeful. Practicing a group skill such as tai ji or singing with an ensemble joins hearts and lifts us above the disturbing political fray and back to a reality that we can understand. This is not a time to disassociate ourselves from events in the news, for we need to be informed and take action where we can. However, it’s imperative that we also refuel our souls however possible in order to keep ourselves strong for those among us who are most vulnerable and afraid.

Within each of us is a well of strength. Find yours and renew it with whatever creative process and/or meditative practice that best brings you in touch with your true self. Look for joy in the beautiful things of this world and do not be afraid to bask in them and be grateful. At such times you are not abandoning your post; you are building your arsenal.

 

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Dawn at High Tide     pastel on paper   9 1/2” x 12 1/2″