385. finer details

I’m getting obsessed with my wall mural, folks. I may need a paint night intervention with a fire hose to separate me from my paint brushes.  The big forms are taking shape with large dollops of desert colors. And there is sort of a pattern coming into view, a 360 degree panorama of the Catalina Mountains plus some poetic licensed violations of nature. My sun actually sets on the west wall just like at my  daughter’s back deck in north Tucson, but in my office it’s behind the seat where most of my clients choose to sit. Having defined the parallel universe thusly, I dare not introduce another sun… unless I want to go full Dali. I am tempted to paint numbers on my white sun as if it were a clock face, no hands though. Why paint yourself into a time corner when you live in a circular world? Time is not flat or square, right? Columbus proved that, I think. I think a bird’s wings would be sufficient to suggest the clock hands and “time flies” theme on my bone white sun’s face. It’s not photography or realism that I’m going for. It is a dreamscape instead with a condor of consciousness swooping across.

On the east wall is open desert with some stone towers and burnt orange foothills to frame the emptiness, borrowed from a DeGrazia painting I saw. I placed a small rising moon opposite my enormous setting sun. Not sure where it’s going to end, but the process of working on such a  huge scale is very freeing, exhilarating even. However, I have to calm my exploding creative flatulence as clients arrive, expecting my full focus. So far, one took a picture to show her husband, and one gave me constructive artistic criticism. “You might want to go impressionistic and just suggest mountains, you know? soften the lines.” No, I’m going for surrealism, mate, but thanks anyway. None of this stuff actually exists except on my walls. In a way it’s like walking into my 12′ by 12’mind matrix. Terrifying. Strange. Beautiful.

Most folks hardly even notice the grandiose overhaul, which is pretty amazing to me. In my old office bathroom I smeared dark maroon paint on three walls of the claustrophobia inducing room. My billing lady said it looked like someone had been hacked to death in there. Not a word from anyone else for six years. Maybe they thought I was a mafia “cleaner” and they were too scared to raise my suspicions. Perhaps I should have littered a plastic finger or two in the corners, you know? Maybe a bloodied watch or a shoe for the full noir effect. Wait, it’s supposed to be warm and fuzzy and safe in therapy bathrooms, no masks, clowns or tool company pinups. Drat! boundaries kill all the funny folks who will kill you without boundaries.

So now come the long hours of detailing the big shapes, adding dimension, shadows, textures, suggestions, contrasts, etc. In some ways, I suppose, it’s like language in that I have the nouns, verbs and tone of voice, mood, vocabulary, theme, and some sense of symbolic narration on my walls. Does that make sense to you? The main nuts and bolts are in place, but now I’m tweaking the subtleties, adding nuances and hints. Adding adjectives and adverbs, prepositional phrases, clauses, only with paint instead of consonants and vowels. I think you are following me, right? Nod here. Thanks. So I add a stoic cactus, or a hundred cacti, an abandoned adobe house, some sage and agave, and parched washes crying out for a single drop of rain.

Or take a song, you musical peepers. You lay down a rhythm, develop a few choruses, a bridge, then write some snappy lyrics that capture the feel you were after… and eventually you play it over and over, adding the bass, the drums, a keyboard, maybe guitar, a sax or harmonica solo along the way. You jack up the vocals, perhaps add harmony, steadily moving toward a sound you know you’ll recognize though you’ve never heard it before. A vague, shadowy template floats in your head like a goddess until one day you meet her in the flesh. How does that work?

What is that? Creative spirit echoing back from the hidden caverns of the cosmos. Inexplicable to scientists who insist on repeatable proof in line with the holy grail of the scientific method. What sad boys and girls they are. How do scientists explain falling in love with one special soulmate? It’s not reproducible; instead, falling in love is anecdotal and eccentric as all heck. Probably irrational at many points, but ultimately it keeps the species viable enough to produce other little scientists who don’t believe in what they cannot prove repeatedly. Mystery, my friends, mystery defies scientific investigation. The revelation of creation is still a mystery.

Details, all details, follow the big picture, my blogadillos. They hang on the larger slabs of reality. You get your dirty car detailed; you seek details to understand and sometimes to believe or remember; you ask for details when you smell a rat. Details trap the rat on little slivers of truth.  Smaller strokes made by tiny brushes move like little creatures underfoot. In this case they are under my grip. Baddabing:  a cinnamon line appears to define a random ridge from a purple mountain against a sulfur yellow sky. Intuition rules this palette of endless color selections. The paints talk to me, persuading me not to wash them away but rather shift the hues I had in mind. I comply because there is no right answer, and wrong answers scream immediately. “You can’t have pink cactuses… or can you?”  I need to explore that further.And when I figure out how to transfer my photos of the mural project onto my computer and then upload those to the blog, I’ll share the inner workings of my brain with you, my fine, fine seekers of truth.  Aloha for now.

 

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122. Polar bears in a snowstorm

Image result for polar bear picturesThe blank page is like a white wall that must be adorned. Words and symbols and art need to fill the void, cutting a door or window through the opaque white fog of not quite consciousness.  Otherwise we’re all polar bears in a snowstorm, unconnected and hopelessly lost. The simple act of typing letters, then words, then sentences claims the void and brings purpose to the blank.  A horizon is seen and the brain can find itself in space. It seems to me that the empty page is comparable to a bare canvas for a painter or silence for a musician. It’s a space and time to be filled with expression.

I don’t begin with a destination or an agenda usually. It’s fairly apparent if you’ve read my blog for a while. I hop in, turn the ignition, and back out to the past or pull away into the present. Depends on the mood and circumstances of my life. Once I’ve gotten warmed up, I think of a destination. It works for me. I’m not an engineer of words or an architect. I just write like I think and speak; at least I think I do.

My day job, as you may have gleaned, is a counselor. I listen to folks for 8 to 10 hours a day. I enjoy it immensely because I genuinely like my clients. Very few of them have to be there in my office. They come of their own free wills and remain as free agents. They don’t have to put up with me. They choose to pay me for each expensive hour and believe that value is added to their lives by engaging in the counseling process. I find the whole deal to be very gratifying as well as highly accountable for me. If I don’t do my job well  (and this is completely subjective on my clients’ parts), I lose. No explanation is needed. The client just does not show up again. I don’t need a committee report or a state investigation to determine if I’ve done a good job. Clients return; it’s that simple.

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I try not to think of the high stakes of my business. I’m not much of a business guy anyhow. I can’t afford to expend the energy necessary to worry about things outside of my control.  Instead, I try to focus fully on the person(s) in front of me at the moment. I block out the phone ringing in the next room, the mailman popping in and out, the townsfolk noisily shuffling by my first floor window. There is always someone suing someone else, but I can’t worry about that either. If I remain focused with my client, I’ll be okay legally, morally, ethically, and financially. Why? Because I believe I will be and my life’s experience confirms my belief. I have been blessed thus far in life that the risks I have taken have not blown up in my face.

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Writing is an outlet for me, I suppose. Back when I was a teacher, I used greeting cards as a creative outlet. I’d spend an intensely absorbed two hours drawing and painting little greeting cards. It worked for me. However, I noticed that as soon as I left the stress of teaching behind, I had no desire to make my cards. In some weird way I suppose this blog has replaced the cardmaking for creative expression and resetting the psychic balance. Listening to others intently for 40 to 50 hours a week can turn your mind into a mushroom if you don’t push back with exercise, good diet and sleep, love and creativity. So this therapeutic alliance with words is at play behind the musings and wonderment of my posts. And sometimes it is just play, dodgeball with words and ideas, trying to hit some idea with the right set of words.

This week I’ve spent with my daughter and brand new granddaughter in Tucson, Arizona. Every day has started without any agenda. Newborns don’t permit agendas. They are for older, controllable folks. Newborns are iffy about sleep. Sure, they sleep more than cats do, but it can be two hours here and three there, and you don’t get to pick which hours. They eat and wet and cry and poop when they’re feeling it, not on your timetable. So it would be futile to maintain a timetable. Baby Leah took her first bottle last night, which was unexpected and somewhat magical for her dad. Her mother Grace took a picture and sighed a mom’s proud and sad sigh, “My baby is growing up!” Underneath that comment was perhaps the first sense of her separation from her baby. It’s an odd mixture of joy and loss, thrill and melancholy. A healthy person feels both; accepts both; and then focuses on the positive emotion.

All of us think about what is best for this eight pound glow worm. I guess that is the agenda after all. How rare it is to stay so focused on the needs of another for so long. But that other is nothing but needs wrapped in cute outfits. Something about her totally innocent clinging dependence reminds me of marsupial babies that live in pouches. But there is the glow worm body as well. Hmm… here is one of those dodgeball ideas. Imagine Lowly Worm in a pale green swaddling blanket tucked into the pouch of a soft bellied Velveteen Rabbit. Percolate for a moment. The little worm’s face glows, though it seems asleep or drunk on mother’s milk. Happy light shines out of slitted eyes. Put a wee little cap on her head– yellow and pink. Paint the whole picture with colors not in your paintbox– warm yawning lavender, snuggly nose pink dawn, dusty cheek rose. There you go. That’s better than a laundry line full of white sheets in a snowstorm.

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I’ll close with lyrics from Johnny Mercer’s “Glow Worm”. You can follow up with a visit to YouTube to hear the melodious Mills Brothers sing it.

Shine little glow-worm, glimmer, glimmer
Shine little glow-worm, glimmer, glimmer
Lead us lest too far we wander
Love’s sweet voice is calling yonder
Shine little glow-worm, glimmer, glimmer
Hey, there don’t get dimmer
Light the path below, above
And lead us on to love!
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