The duality in nature is what provides us with context. Those deep still pools in juxtaposition with rushing waters are both our internal and external landscape on a daily basis. What I mean by this is that without both there is not contrast which provides meaning. These elements are the conditions of our journey that we struggle with. Our day unfolds with the act of us spilling our coffee across the counter creating a small chaos till finally we manage our first sip savoring it as it warmly greets our tongue. The first breath of crisp green morning as we step out the door calming us is followed by the sight of Pterodactyl crap on our car because we parked under a utility pole which tweaks us. We are tossed back and forth between those things that make us happy, calm or go as expected to the opposite. There is no level that is constant it is not unlike sitting atop a surfboard I would think riding the waves. We don’t control the waves but we choose what to do with them.
In the last few weeks I ‘ve had a number of conversations regarding creativity, life’s purpose, art, love and the proximity of these concepts to each other. That the duality between faith and fear and how they ride shotgun in all the arenas we work and play. That our position between those markers of faith and fear is reflected in how we live our life, create art or make dinner. It mirrors our openness and is essentially our valve for creating risk and vulnerability in what we do and who we are. Like the waves it is mutable. Whether we choose to open it wide in creating a painting but close it down when someone we have feelings for gets too close. We can choose to be great at things that don’t matter to us, excel at what holds little, to no value but be afraid to venture into places that do. Places we value so much that our perceived failure will cut too deep and reveal our frailty and inadequacy to the world and worse to ourselves.
Yet this is neither all good nor bad but the rolling from one to the other is what gives us our learning. If I don’t spill my coffee sometimes, write shitty first drafts, get myself tangled up in my beach chair and subsequently tumble into the sand I am unable to recognize the wonder of the times when I don’t. When I hit my mark with focus and clarity despite having the valve open to risk/vulnerability, it allows me to recognize the achievement. This is largely due how the action stands in contrast to the times I have not and choose to learn from them. When I can appreciate the stillness, the depth of calm having been in white water an hour before and had my stomach churning provides richness and texture.
We can bring these elements in and play with them in art in such a way it helps us to recognize them in our everyday life. For me an incredible example of this was seeing the images of snow white skin and dark coats of dancers in controlled grace displaying human frailty under a microscope that packed a punch so hard it set me back on my heels. The piece showed the dance we do in how we make connection and back away based the reflection of ourselves in others eyes. When we use art to distill our questions we can sometimes find our answers. The truth, meaning and vulnerability are displayed against a blank canvas as to help us recognize it when things began to swirl.
So there we are tossed back and forth trying to find a footing in which to rest and get perspective while constantly moving. It is about controlling our own balance in the face of our changing landscape. It is about allowing ourselves to be where we are without judgment of its goodness or badness, and then our ability to take our experience apart and learn how the sum relates to the parts. How the choice to open or close the valve on risk throughout our day depending on how we feel will affect the outcome of our experience and perceived value. What we glean when things come crashing down on us and land us up on shore yet again, safe, or split open, there is always a gift.