This post does not recount a particular incident in my life at the Florence Academy but represents the fruit of a lot of different experiences. So, while it does not reference school, it relates.
Awhile ago, I had a particular heartache. What that thing was does not matter, but in the midst of this thing, I was sitting on a train, and I remembered a trip to Costa Rica from a few years ago, and I remembered the hills there, on the coast, green in the sun and lush like nothing in the northern lands. And as I gazed on this with the eyes of my soul, there was something inside of me that melted and mended and I was made whole again. It was all very straightforward and rather shocking to me. I was in pain. I saw a vision of beauty remembered. The beauty was balm to my wounds. “So,” I said to myself, “beauty heals.”
Yes, yes it does. Since then, I had noticed this phenomenon a lot. My morning walk to school, for instance.. It is (thanks to daylight savings time) always as the sun is rising. Even the pigeons, in flocks, silhouetted against the pale, pink sky make my heart rise. And, whatever is on my mind or weighing me down, it lifts, and something inside of me rises to meet the morning.
I need beauty. It is not just a perk. Without it, life would be a lot worse than just boring. I think this is true for everyone. Maybe everyone does not realize it, but I think this a universal need. (I won’t back that up with any argument. This post would get way too long.)
But, everyone perceives beauty differently. What moves me may not speak to you. Then again, there may be a handful of people in the world who see what I see and draw life from it. So, then, to those handful of people, I, as an artist, have a responsibility. Because, artists, as I think I have written before, help people to see.
So, to the people who need the beauty I have to give, whoever you are, I am working on it. Sometimes I get discouraged because what inspires me is so far above anything I can make, and sometimes I wonder if I am even seeing the right thing or digging deep enough to see, but I am working on it.
On that note, I will leave you with one of my favorite T.S. Eliot quotes. This is from the Four Quartets, Stanza V of East Coker:
So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty years-
Twenty years largely wasted, the years of l’entre deux guerres
Trying to learn to use words, and every attempt
Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure
Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it. And so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid of the inarticulate
With shabby equipment always deteriorating
In the general mess of imprecision of feeling,
Undisciplined squads of emotion. And what there is to conquer
By strength and submission, has already been discovered
Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope
To emulate – but there is no competition –
There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions
That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there is only the the trying. The rest is not our business.
And, here are my two landscapes from this week, searching for beauty in the city:
Water Tower over Green and Prince, Watercolor, 5″x7″
The Watchers (Quick Nighttime Sketch), Watercolor, 5″x7″