Sunday, March 20, 2011
Duality: Spring Flowers and Destruction
I've been thinking a lot about the duality of time, experience...life. 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?