I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Change comes one step at a time

The art of Simon Beck
I'm sitting here in the dark, laptop and tea as usual, but this morning I'm feeling all pensive, thinking about the beginning of another year. Yesterday I discovered Simon Beck's snowshoe art and could hardly fathom what I was looking at. He created this three-dimensional piece by stomping around on snowshoes in an area about the size of three football fields. If you click on the link, you can learn more about him and see some of his other snowshoe art.

Although this picture illustrates what I consider to be a masterpiece, it's no longer there. The creative process that brought it out of Simon, to imagine it and accomplish his vision: that's the nature of art. I remember being in a large square in China watching an artist write a poem with a large brush on the pavement... with water. People gathered to observe and appreciate the art as he drew the graceful Chinese characters. Some snapped pictures to preserve it, but the artist didn't seem to care. The poem lived in his head, just as this snowshoe art was created in Simon's. It makes me feel very good to realize that things like this are going on all the time, everywhere across the planet.

It also makes me realize that whatever I concentrate on colors my world. It's true that there are also atrocities and horrors happening everywhere, too. If I allow that to become my focus, that's what I experience. Sometimes I have to turn off the news, since it seems to cover little to no positive, uplifting stories but instead only death, disasters, mayhem. It doesn't have to be that way. But they do cover what interests people, don't they? I'd like to begin to change my focus toward beauty and art, and I'll start by skipping the news for awhile. Instead, I'll pick up a book or two that inspire me to look toward the better angels of human nature.

There's quite a bit on my mind, but I can't seem to get a handle on what I wanted to write about this morning. I made airline reservations to go to Florida for a visit with my sister Norma Jean at the end of this month. Thinking about the Florida sunshine and spending time with her makes me very happy. Although I was with my family over Thanksgiving, it was not possible to have much quality time with Norma Jean. For me, the best part of the holiday was after everyone went back to their normal lives and I had a few days to spend with my brother Buz and his wife Phyllis. Quiet moments without an agenda. That's what I hope I'll get to have with Norma Jean.

I just realized that this behavior, wanting to share quiet moments with my loved ones, is a fairly new development in my life. It's probably because of the life I share with my partner; he's taught me so much over the years about how nourishing quiet time can be. It was obvious when I was surrounded with so many family members that it's impossible to do that in a crowd. One begins to change imperceptibly, and then something happens to make you realize that you are different. I wonder if I still fall on the extreme end of extroversion, or if I have changed enough to see the difference on a test.

This afternoon I will go to the movies with my friend Judy. I always enjoy our time together; she fills a definite need in my life, but it is separate from my home life. Going out on Thursdays with the Senior Trailblazers fills another need. Having our modest little apartment makes it easy to step into the wider world, knowing I have this quiet place to return to. Yes, I've definitely changed, but it hasn't been easy to see it for what it is. Although we all change, it's so gradual that it's only when I step back and take stock of my life that the change begins to emerge.

It makes me wonder about Simon Beck's art. Did he see it as it is in the above picture, or did it emerge a little at a time, one footstep after another? Did he allow it to come out of himself and little by little it took form? I wonder.


Olga said...

Interesting that you should cross my path just now as my journey is from the far end of introversion to a place where I learn the joy of friendship with others. I still avoid the news though.

Anonymous said...

I rarely watch television anymore, particularly the news. I prefer to read the news, because if I see an unpleasant headline, I can skip to the next article that might be more pleasant. That snowshoe art is amazing. I have never seen anything like it.

wendyytb said...

Hi DJan!

My husband taught me how to stop watching the news. I was addicted to the 11pm news and then dreamt on what I had seen. I am sure I watched every night because I was afraid....I wanted to be prepared when the ball dropped. I feel more peaceful now.

Pamela Kieffer said...

What an interesting picture though I am glad we never have that much snow. Only enough for a snow family.
We spent 4 days over Christmas with my daughter and her husband. They do not subscribe to a newspaper or TV. Not sure if that's for me.

CiCi said...

Simon Beck is a talented man. Interesting to find a way to express himself that is not permanent except in photos of his completed work. It is always hopeful for me when I read about others who watch no or little TV. I like reading the comments in your posts.

#1Nana said...

Here's one of my favorite quotes from Gandhi:

"You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty."

There's always going o be a little dirt, but we should've lose sight of the beauty that is all around us. It really is all about what we chose to focus on. I enjoyed this pensive post. I'm glad you're going to visit your sister. I also have come to realize that there is no need to deny myself the joy from visiting my loved ones...frugal is good, but having the relationships in my life is more important.

Linda Reeder said...

As to the news, I still want to be aware of what's going on locally and in the world, but I watch very little local TV news anymore because I really don't care to hear about the latest shooting or house fire.i have not watched MSNBC for ages, after having watched it almost every day for a long time. It just seems like politicians are spinning their wheels and going no where. let me know when you've completed something, please.
As you were describing your desire for quiet, one to one tome, I couldn't help thinking how much that sounded introverted. Then you acknowledged that too. I am better at functioning socially in large groups than I used to be, but that is still not my preference.
Maybe as we age, we just mellow, like a fine wine.

Red said...

I was surprised to find out that the snow flake was made by snowshoe steps. Really cool!
Now I think we change more than we think. Physically we change so slowly that we don't notice until we look at an old picture. I think it's the same with the person part of us. We change more than we think.

The Retired One said...

I so agree regarding the news....sometimes I too have to shut it off or I get depressed beyond belief. I also agree that concentrating on uplifting music and books and spending time with loved ones helps so much. We are heading for a tropical Mexican vacation on Friday so that will help me considerably.

Far Side of Fifty said...

I am avoiding the news also..too depressing especially in these dark days of winter. That is some great work of art ..I cannot fathom how he managed it:)

Rita said...

at the college I watched the monks work making their intricate sand mandala for days. Then they had a ceremony to bless the sand and destroyed the whole thing! It was all about impermanence. They gave away small packets of the sand (which is where I got mine) and took the rest and did another ceremony where they put it in a local water source. Said the good energy would circulate all over the world as the water itself does. They were the most calm, loving people I have ever met. the snowshoe art reminded me immediately of the sand mandala.

I have basically avoided the news most of the time since the 60s and the Vietnam War. There have been times I have been following--like Watergate--but I have found that when I do the negativity just permeates my soul. There is generally little or no happy news on those programs. Happy news doesn't sell. Fear sells. And sadly it spreads more fear.

I have found I always preferred one-on-one conversations or very small intimate groups. Things do change at a certain point when there are enough people--even 4 or 5 and I feel different--even if it is family. I know what you mean. And one of my worst fears is being up in front of a group of people. They say more people are afraid of public speaking than almost anything else--well, count me in.

Have a wonderful time with your sister!! Enjoy every minute! :)

Jackie said...

You seem to be a very sensitive and caring person, Jan.
I pray for nothing but happiness to completely surround you.
Your writing warms my heart.
As you and your sister spend quiet time together, I smile knowing that it will be so good for both of you.
Hugs and love,

Mel said...

Thank you so much for this lovely post, and for the amazing link. My whole family has marveled at the snow artist and his intricate, beautiful, ephemeral work. It made my day. I hope you have a lovely week.

Arkansas Patti said...

I love the snow shoe art and marvel at the stamina it must have taken.
Yes, our changes are slow and mostly go unnoticed. You got me thinking that probably the young party hearty girl I used to be would be bored to death with the now me. Far apart in the obvious but pretty sure with a basic core that hasn't changed.
Interesting post.

Friko said...

Although I don’t know for certain I thin that artists have the finished work laid out in their head. This is such a great effort to undertake you can’t do it blind.

I get what you mean by changing, and thinking about change at this time of year is inevitable. Living consciously, as you do, is the greatest gift; it helps you along the way and leads you towards what is really important.

May you find all you envisage in 2013, dear DJan.

Linda Myers said...

From the time I spent with you on Vashon, I suspect you're closer to the middle on the extrovert/introvert scale that you used to be. Just my opinion, of coursel I used to be an introvert and now I'm about in the center as well. Makes life more interesting.

Sally Wessely said...

Much to think about it. I read the title of your post and think of the artist. Certainly, each step he made brought change, and that change created a grand design. To think that all those steps were then destroyed by nature makes me reflect on something I just read about nature constantly being recycled back into the earth. It is only man who thinks his steps will leave a mark that lasts. To me this is a very humbling thought.

Some of the marks man is making on the earth and upon history cause us to want to stop watching the news. I like your approach to life. It is in someways so simple. I wish for more simplicity.

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Great post. And what beautiful art. I think with this kind of art, it's the moment that counts, not eternity.

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, I found your blog thanks to your kind comment on mine. I had to take a long look at that snowshoe photo! How absolutely amazing that someone could do that. Not just doing it, but how long would it take? What a fascinating find and thanks for sharing it. Have a great weekend and, if I don't comment again before, have a great trip down to Florida. Sounds wonderful! Take care, John

Stella Jones said...

I would like to see more good news in the news broadcasts. There must surely be an equal amount of good and bad news out there?
The picture is interesting, transitory, like life. It's a good thought to dwell on. I think that most of us, self included, hang on to too many things. It would do us all good to let go and share more.

CrazyCris said...

That photo is beautiful!

I've avoided the news for a while now... all the stuff about the economic crisis is just too damn depressing, and hits too close to home! Although here in Spain they do sometimes tell the "nice" stories... but it's mostly politicians posturing and natural disasters and stuff.

Quiet time with the people we love is extra special! It's how I know I'm truly comfortable with a person, when I don't feel uncomfortable hanging out with them in silence or simple quiet conversation...

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

I love this post. You are so honest about your wishes for good things for yourself. And I agree with you that family quiet time is super special.