The Full Moon
I am obsessing about this question: to paraphrase poet Mary Oliver, what shall I do with this precious life that remains? Last week brought clarity about a number of decisions and choices that will shape the coming days.
Last month I mentioned two massive root balls, each with three large tree trunks attached, that I had wanted to keep on the Jamestown property after nine willows were cut down for armoring of the James Creek. I had thought I could do something with them, place them in a significant location, carve them. But I awoke one morning realizing that they were not a priority, and that the process of placing them safely would be a major construction project. I asked if they could be removed, and they were. The ground lies fallow, though full of scraps of willow roots.
Dear friend Robert Spellman, a professor at Naropa University, had asked me a while ago if I might be interested in teaching a pottery class during the Fall 2014 semester. My initial response was keen interest, as ceramics was my first major art form, after music. Then, when I was asked again last week, for real, I thought about it overnight and said no the next day
I also had been asked to teach a stone class or workshop at the Art Students League of Denver. Many months ago I said yes, with a date still to be determined. But I awoke last week and contacted the Executive Director to say no, not now.
Last weekend I heard from the editor of my 2003 book Art Lessons: Meditations on the Creative Life, with an invitation to revise this book for a second edition. I said yes with great enthusiasm, for I have always loved this book and want to speak to its intended general audience.
I recently said yes to two memorial marble projects. In the coming months I will be working on a stone for Joey Howlett, who died in the Jamestown flood. The family of Thomas Maloney, a dear Jamestown friend who died suddenly about seven weeks ago, asked me if I would consider carving a memorial in his honor. He was our town historian, one of the town elders, one of David's closest friends, and the only person for whom I had previously carved a memorial stone—for PRINCESS, his dog who died. That stone survived the 2003 Overland Fire high up on the mountain above Jamestown.
Yesterday I submitted an essay on “The Uses of Theory” for a forthcoming book titled Art of the Real: Visual Studies and New Materialisms. A colleague in Michigan asked me to submit an article proposal for an upcoming book on intersubjectivity in teaching and learning. A decades-old aspiration to write about ritual has resurfaced. I have a lot to say about loss and grief, about dying, and about facing death.
The piano I started to play a year ago stands idle. My two flutes lie on the shelf. The thangka I began a few years ago is partially completed and sits on a drawing table ready for my attention. Other drawings and paintings related to my stupa exhibition beckon.
The James Creek continues to beckon too. The rock armoring along the creek is stunning. My feet point to the recently built “drop structure” at our place—a massive waterfall that I dubbed “Niagara Falls of the James.” David’s foot shows the size of a pile of mountain lion scat behind the house. The beauty of the spare landscape continues to nourish me.
An embarrassment of riches, perhaps. But in the midst of repairing our house in Jamestown; stabilizing our life in Longmont, which is 15 miles from Jamestown; and responding to David's needs as a result of his dementia, this re-arising of my own creative energy is sustaining, to say the least.
Everything requires careful discernment right now. I started sanding two pieces of marble the other day: one a slab, the other a block. No machinery, little sound except the shshshshshsh of dry and wet diamond pads and emery paper over stone. It was deeply satisfying.