Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Slow Year

I lazily enjoy my final week of winter break, as on the 11th I return to teaching.  And so the days are full of syllabi writing, walking along the frozen, cracking ground of North Carolina winter, kimchee making (my husband is on roll and these jars are truly lovely--I will post pics soon as they are infinitely aesthetic and worthy of contemplation by any painter) and reading--The Cookbook Collector, Water for Elephants, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and waiting at my bedside...The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet.

I am not one to make resolutions, but this year, this spring, I am hoping to preserve stillness in my life--somehow, somehow?!  How?!!  Over the last year I've become attuned and quite clear on what non-stillness feels like in my head and in my body.  Stillness feels infinitely better, is infinitely better in terms of quality of living/being.  A good friend sent me a chapter from Scott Russell Sanders book Conservationist Manifesto.  The chapter is called Stillness, and it is perfectly prefaced by this quote by Blaise Pascal:
I have concluded that the whole misfortune of men comes from a single thing, and that is their inability to remain at rest in a room. 

Why do I feel compelled to write of stillness on this blog--a studio blog?  For me the ability to "hear myself"--which is another way of naming what I mean when I think of holding onto stillness--has long been linked to who I am as an artist.  In the days when I was a voracious journal-writer, I often noted the change internally when I was away from my journal of the moment--I couldn't hear myself very well.  I knew the difference between really hearing myself, and not hearing myself, and I knew that not hearing myself impacted the joy and connection I held for making things.  I still make things whether I hear myself or not, but when I settle enough to sense the inside cadences of my mind, I open out into the knowledge that what I do has legs extending further, deeper down into those questions asked by men and women for all of time--who are we?  Why do we function as we do?  Why do we tingle with such wrenching human poignance?

3 comments:

garima said...

This is a beautiful post Barbara.

For me restlessness has so often been the bone of contention between truly living/seeing/hearing and just being swished around in a storm.

Hope your spring turns out the way you wish it!

Ellen Campbell said...

...thank you for the reminder and the word---stillness. It resonates.

suzanne cabrera said...

Preserving the stillness...this is really beautiful Barbara.

Reminds me of something I heard on This I Believe this week: http://thisibelieve.org/essay/33772/

The interviewer doesn't seem to get the concept...but its good nevertheless.