Thursday, April 16, 2009

Living with Art

Invited by a friend to make some frames, for their safety during the process in my crowded little space, her paintings have graced my walls for the past week. Both my son and I will be sad to see them returned.

All of my life I have been surrounded by the art of my father. In the early years, Sunday often imposed an insufferable amount of time holding still, but I treasure those pastel portraits today. At the end of a vacation the living room cork wall was transformed with new paintings that captured and held the countless hot mornings meandering the tide pools as he, puffing on his pipe, patiently, quietly soaked the paper with colors.

Sadly, although I have hundreds of paintings to mix and match on my walls, I have become somewhat immune to their effect over the years. These new works by my friend have ignited my imagination, shocking me with delighted awe each time I round the corner or look upwards unfocused from this yellow pad.

To break out the tools on my porch and produce the frames seems to be the task required to properly dirty my fingers enough to motivate me toward the growing list of carpentry tasks that could actually earn the ability to cross off some bills. Peacefully, I meditated within the system, moving methodically from table to chopsaw to sander, then staining and framing; music in its own way.

In that directed movement, my thoughts roamed along the imagined highways in search of horizons beyond, and over the accumulated clutter that is the reality of my own little cave. I have come so far in these many months, but am creating a future that seems boundless.

With my eye always on the prize of being a writer, I allowed the business of carpentry to take over my life, eventually smothering my spirit by the harsh demands of details that ultimately did not inspire me. My music was silenced.

Beginning with one short paragraph, a self-assignment in the middle of yet another sleepless night, I began to scribble on these yellow pads, hiding them under the bed, avoiding any risk of review. First some stories, then essays, then the discovery of blogging allowed me to shed light on that dark time and understand just how much change was required to survive.

The first nights alone in my rough cave, I unpacked the guitar and filled the silence with rougher notes, but remembered a soaring spirit, fingers revived to pick in cadences my heart had long forgotten. I liked the songs; I adored the pleasure it gives me to play them. When it finally felt comfortable to let go of my old house and caress the new guitar that came from it, suddenly new songs burst forth which I feel compelled to share.

As I struggle so publically between the art of living and the need to earn my keep, another friend perceives the need for some writing help in his own work, and I am suddenly immersed in a project so huge it shivers the cord of my spine like the prettiest one on a guitar. The dollars are only bonus to the thrill of tweaking words and phrases to enhance and promote a powerful message that could reach millions.

Of all the resumes passed forward, a rare response introduced a remarkable woman who has worked alone for thirty years promoting peace around the world, uniting children of many cultures. As the boundaries disappear and attitudes shift, her message of peace spreading outwards from serene souls takes hold, and she needs help to write the grant that might create a job more akin to my deepest passions.

Quickly after the notes sound in my head, the dream is conjured and I am in a band, playing all original music that gets feet moving and stirs emotions with spine-tingling harmonies. Last night, I played solo (and got paid handsomely for it) to a college audience who listened raptly and heard (for the moment) the message of authenticity that takes a lifetime to really absorb.

In these past years, my conditions have certainly been humbled, my family broken asunder, my builder’s reputation squandered to impotence. Many say they might give up and roll over under such duress. I submit the strength is in all of us to endure and thrive when put to the test.

Sometimes it just takes noticing the works of art that live around and within us.

Please share with your friends


Hayden Tompkins said...

Your life is more beautiful.

Laurie said...

I read a poem today Kip that reminds me of both me and you. It is called the invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer. Check it out here:

You are transforming my friend. Life is percolating from your pores and pen. Your passion ignites passion in my heart as well. You are an inspiration. (I love the long blue painting)

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful post Kip.. I am so happy for you that you're starting to experience the journey that has been calling to you for such a long time.