Sunday, March 20, 2011

Duality: Spring Flowers and Destruction

I've been thinking a lot about the duality of time,  This past gorgeous Friday evening I took photographs of the the first flowers I've seen blooming outdoors this season.  Spring is here.  How beautiful!  This week as I've been going about my life here at home I'm aware of the enormous amount of suffering and anxiety taking place in places like Japan and Libya.  Feelings of concern, sadness, worry, empathy, disgust come and go throughout the week.  I've been needing to express these feelings...  although it is Sunday my sketchbook post can wait until another day.  Today I need to say these things first.

I feel connected with the people who are truly being touched by horrific and challenging experiences in that I too am human: that despite distance and culture we are not that different,  I share this planet with all people and all life, I have the same basic needs and desires, I feel sadness, joy, love, fear, hope, anxiety, excitement, grief...  I witness beauty and destruction.

Yet how surreal it is that I can spend an early spring evening walking the gardens at Smith College appreciating the beauty springing from the earth while also thinking of those who lost loved ones, homes, entire towns to the power of nature or the destruction of war.  There is such an edge to beauty... in a blink of an eye it can change, transform, destruct, die.  Perhaps this is what makes beauty, BEAUTY?  These two realities lie on the edge of one another.

In times like this, I can feel helpless and lucky and neither feeling feels particularly good while I imagine myself in the shoes of someone who is truly suffering.  Thoughts run through my head, "I want to do something." "I want to help."  "Why am I spared (for the time being, anyway) from a natural/environmental disaster and war on my home turf?"  I can't stop the earth from moving...creating a 9.0 earthquake.  I can't make those in power step down or make decisions that I can feel good about.  I can't stop a nuclear reactor from melting down.  As I'm sure you can relate, this is a scary feeling.  Many things are out of our control.

A friend recently said that creating and sharing beauty in the world is the active work we can do to make and create positive change.  This gives me hope because I agree.  I can share, create and appreciate beauty. Beauty shows itself in many ways.  It is there in the smile from a stranger or loved one,  in the full moon rising...

in the sharing of a home cooked meal, in hugging someone, in the beauty of fragrant blossoms....

in the act of creating and creation, in the beauty of twilight...

Can a form of activism be the creation of and appreciation of beauty and enchantment? 


  1. Kim,

    you had quite a profound reflection here.

    I always think of us, humans, in relation with our proto-parents: Adam and Eve.
    I'm wondering if they perceived "beauty" (in the way we're perceiveing this term currently) when they were still in Paradise.
    Did they even need such a word, such a concept, such a differentiation, in a world where everything was (is) in harmony? In Paradis is nothing to oppose to beauty, so this term itself is a nonsens.

    The more I think, I find the need for art is our need to fill a gap between us and a perfect world.

    As a christian, I know that this is the nostalgy for Eden that teologists talk about.

    From this point of view, the fragile equilibre between the two antipodes of the beauty (as you described them). And arts (being such a profoundly human behaviour) are no different than any other human paradoxes that acts like "+" and "-" in our lives throughout history. Let's look at this "polarity" in the positive way, and consider them (as you did, too) like the electrical energy powering a motor; a battery is not giving energy without one "+" and one "-".

    is the art a form of activism? yes, it can be. but as so is also using a gun. or going to church and praying.
    the questions is: what is the best way of activism.

    is the answer at my question: well, depends on what you want to achieve! because world is acting like this is the answer.

    or the answer is: the best way of activism is the one who get us closer to that perfect world where nothing can oppose to "beauty".

    indeed, we cannot stop the bad things in the world, because they are meant for us as a test. A prayer is always reminding that sooner or later we'll face the afterlife.

    you should be merry, because despite all the trouble, you still see the beauty of a sunset, or a flower, or a bird...

    Never lose hope, love and faith! Never!



  2. Dear Kimberly, I understand your feelings and thoughts, I have them too, against this power of nature we are helpless, we can only support the victims in small and big ways, each of us doing what we can.
    I see it as a duty to keep enjoying all that is beautiful and good around me,no one will benefit from dark, negative thoughts or feelings of guilt.
    One can stand by people around one when they are going through hard and difficult times, when each of us does that ....
    Keep well and smiling my dear, and creative ofcourse x

  3. It's taken me a while to catch up on blogs this week, but I've had your post bookmarked.

    I think you're absolutely right that a form of activism is creating art and recognizing the beauty around us - both result from being in "the now," in moment-to-moment awareness — the only true reality (the past being only a memory and the future only a hope). Being able to stay in the moment without judging it as "good" or "bad" is enlightenment. Art is a form of meditation, and so is mindfulness. And sending positive, healing energy out into the world seems more important than ever.


  4. Hi friends...Razvan, Renilde and Melanie,
    I've so appreciated reading your words and hearing your thoughts on this topic. I love your different perspectives...It's all very affirming which I find beautiful in and of itself. Thank you for sharing your heartfelt thoughts.