Saturday, June 17, 2017

It Needs a Frame

Traveling friends and children have bestowed upon me several fascinating pieces of art from various exotic places.

My son, a professional photographer, gave me a large, matted photograph he took of the Pacific Ocean at sunset from the vantage point of a large sailboat floating somewhere in between Hawaii and Seattle, a vessel on which he crewed. Right smack dab in the middle of the sea. It's the kind of photo you sort of get lost in. It's both haunting and soothing. I love it! But it needs to be framed.

A little Italian man paints Italian scenes on paper and sells them in front of the Coliseum in Rome. A friend bought one of the Coliseum lit up at night and gave it to my family as a souvenir. Bright primary colors draw me in and make me smile. I can almost feel Italy's warmth and laid-back energy. This painting needs a frame to protect it.

A long-time dear friend hunted through the stores of Florence, Italy, for a gift for me. Finally, she came upon a below-ground-level, cave-like shop full of souvenir-type items. In this dark, musty, cluttered little hide-away she found a selection of prints. My generous and kind friend purchased a lovely print for me, a sketched and subtly-colored scene of Old Florence. Gazing at this artwork stirs my imagination. It needs a frame to bring out its glory.

While shuffling through the Andy Warhol exhibit at the Portland Art Museum this spring, I accidentally took an amazingly surreal photo of my husband and son as they studied some of Warhol's artwork. I have no idea what I did, but the effect in my photo thrills me! Weird stripes of light and color envelope the two figures while a sort of mist swirls around them. An enlargement sits right here on my desk. It needs a frame.

A daughter visited Claude Monet's home in Giverny, France, last autumn. Knowing he is my favorite painter of all time, she bought a large print of Poppy Field, painted in 1873. I adore this gift especially knowing it came from inside Monet's famous home, carried with pleasure through his enchanting gardens by my beloved daughter. It needs a glittering gold frame.

Always keeping an eye on expenses, I have been negligent in protecting my artwork. No more! I bit the bullet and forked out the dough to purchase perfect frames for each piece. They are to arrive next week.

Noble is the task of keeping art alive. Glorious is the participation in recording and preserving one's times and experiences, however humble the endeavor.

Soul-stirring artwork displayed in average homes inspires the curiosity of ordinary people, sets imagination a-flight, replaces fustiness with aspiration. Creating a moment of newness, of otherness, of far-away dreams stumbled upon, an expression simply hanging on a wall can draw our hearts into unknown delight, speaking to us of things not yet encountered but somehow yearned for. This is the stuff of personal growth, of stretched horizons, of ordinary becoming extraordinary.

Perhaps my favorite aspect of displayed art in my home is the remembrance of the occasion when the art was received, and of the love for those who gave it to me.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Possessing It All

I know four families who are moving this summer. Three are downsizing. Sorting ensues upon mountains of collected this-and-that.

Surprisingly, these families report astonishment at the number of items they possess that they forgot they owned, and haven't seen in decades. This mass of belongings has to be dealt with as there is no room for it in the new lodgings.

Sales abound. Give-aways to friends and families. Stress, labor, and money go into finding ways to dispose of material possessions, most of which probably should never have been procured in the first place. The money wasted in buying and then discarding the goods, whether sold for a fraction of the cost or given away, floors me.

Let me be clear, I understand acquiring useful things. Art, tools, furniture, clothing, and other things that have a place in day-to-day living. Even souvenirs. No, I'm referring, in this post, to things which cause a near obsessive urge to obtain but which quickly lose their sparkle, only to be relegated to deep, dark spaces for storage. Not sold or given away, kept. Possessed.

As one who is not into possessing things for the sake of possessing them, and as one who prefers clutter-free living, I am a bit mystified and amused by the degree of overwhelm these families face.

"We have so much stuff we haven't used in years!"

"Why are they stupefied?" I ask myself. Don't they see this stuff kicking around their home? Where is it kept that they aren't aware of it? Do they really have a black hole somewhere where useless-to-them items are stored out of sight?

My mindset differs dramatically. Because I have a pack-rat husband and four children, I regularly clean out and tidy closets, the storage shed, my attic, drawers, and cabinets. Before I buy anything I ask myself where will I store it? If I can't find a good answer, I rethink the purchase. I don't understand the possess-and-store mindset at all. Is it compulsive shopping? Is it keeping up with the Joneses? Is it a desperate need to be trendy, fashionable, ahead-of-the-crowd? Is it an insecure show of wealth or power? Is it a deep-seated fear that someday the obscure item may be needed so you'd better keep it or you'll be in big trouble, as if you couldn't go buy one if that day ever came? Or, is it perhaps, the sheer joy in acquiring a shiny new object? The hormonal rush?

What is the psychology behind the need to posses things? There seems to be some sort of gratification in acquiring and holding onto certain items. Does it make people feel superior? "I have [fill in the blank] taking up space and gathering dust in my [fill in the blank] and you don't. Ha!"

It isn't uncommon for family members to aggressively battle over estates of the recently deceased. These disagreeable tussles make me think there must be a perceived power in grabbing things from others' hands, and then, just having them forevermore. But how is that power? Unless the item is somehow useful and needed, what is the gain in storing it? In having it? People hoodwink others out of clothing, vehicles, trinkets, heirlooms, tools, furniture, sports equipment, photo albums, and other memorabilia. They store these things. These things collect dust, take up space. One day, they will have to be jettisoned as excess baggage.

Where is the sense, the logic in possessing unneeded, unused, unimportant things?

I stroke my chin in wonder.

In case you are wondering about the fourth family, yes, they are upsizing.  A larger house awaits them, its spaces filling up with.....stuff.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Hush, You Lying Voices

I'm off track. Backtracking a bit to find the place and time I stepped away.

So many voices screaming at me to ACHIEVE, to be SUCCESSFUL, to WORK HARD, to DO DO DO. Those voices give me anxiety. Big time.

I find myself confused between what I know and what is screamed at me.

Today, I am remembering the quiet, wise voices which whisper to me of humility, kindness, calmness, self-evaluation, compassion, relationship, struggling and striving to know what is True. I am aware of the eyes of my heart which beckon me to BE BE BE.

My purpose as a follower of Jesus is not to achieve greatness in the eyes of this world, but to pursue goodness for this and the next world. Goodness comes from God. Its pursuit takes a lifetime and is only fully realized in the Age to Come. No trophies in this realm. No accolades.

Looking back, I think I see where I strayed. Yes. There is the place where I lost my focus, where I turned and followed the lie.

And now, to walk aright, as best I can.

I live for God, not for the screamers.

It is well with my soul.