Sunday, June 26, 2011

Stop Making Sense

I am sitting at my drawing table this morning and pondering the end of the world. It is an odd hobby.

I am also wondering about what to paint this week. As I sit and ruminate by my window I feel the chill breeze of the morning on my skin. I hear the sounds of my neighbor emptying her dishwasher -- the unmistakable clatter of stacking plates and the chiming of glasses as they casually bump into each other. Yesterday, the cottonwood seeds were floating through my backyard like lazy snowflakes. Their numbers were so immense that it actually did seem like snow and a layer was accumulating on the lawn. Yesterday I also ate a wild strawberry from my yard. Unfortunately, it was more about texture than about taste. My mind has wondered... I am supposed to be thinking of something to paint, something that will trigger thoughts of the end of the world. But there's the rub, thoughts aren't part of the end of the world. Thoughts and associations and dreams and experience are part of this side of the Great Divide. Instead of painting and thinking about the senselessness of the end, I was busy making sense of the moment.

A glance out my window provides the subject for painting - a spiderwort plant in full bloom. I throw on some shorts and head out to cut a segment off and put it in a vase. Again, I feel the chill breeze on my naked upper torso and neck. My hair goes on end.  I feel the wet dewy grass underneath my feet and the smell of rain is in the air. I select, I clip, I place and I draw.

My friend mentioned to me that nothing ends, it simply becomes something else.  That may be true in terms of that which can be physically explained.  But what happens to our experience?  What happens to the simple act of sensing, if one does not have senses?  I do not know what happens on the other side.  But I am pretty sure I will not be sitting at a table, observing a spiderwort, enjoying the smell of eraser shavings (have you ever noticed the smell of eraser shavings?), feeling the texture of the paper with my fingertips and a morning breeze on my skin.  What is beauty without the senses?

Like my thoughts, a spiderwort is an angular thing that zigs and zags back and forth from one plant segment, or node, to another.  Creating a composition out of these scattering energies is a challenge.  I feel what is vertical in essence, seems horizontal in representation. Cropping and editing diminishes the overall effect of this plant.  A part cannot represent the whole because the plant is about the perpendicular relationship of its parts.  How does one work with so much information and condense it into a representation of the whole?  How can one possibly make sense of it?

On the second day of painting, my spiderwort has already diminished to the point that I need to cut another. Again, I feel the breeze on my body.  It is another day threatening to rain.  I select, I clip, I place and I paint.

I went for a run yesterday.  I alternate mornings of painting and running but think about the end of the world while doing both.  My body hit a rhythm for the first time since I have started this ritual.  Although it was work, it was easy. I felt the air fill my lungs and my feet pounding on the sidewalk.  I ran under a tree and its wet leaves touched the top of my head.  A cold wetness sits on top of my head for another half a block.  I think, once the world ends this will no longer happen, there will no longer be someone interpreting sensory experience. We are the one's on the planet that accelerate learning and evolution by giving meaning to experience.  Soon, no one will be placing experience in an order that makes sense, that supports all of this to become more. This decay has already begun.

One day, we will stop using our eyes, our noses, our fingers, our skin, our tongues and our ears.  What will a world be like without the foundation on which all decisions, learnings and associations have been made?  I hope there will be a benefit when we stop making sense.

I look out my window, it has begun to rain.

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