Dearest EXPLORE reader,
I write these little letters that 5 or 6 people read each month (my Mom included) and they don’t cover anything of any particular interest to folks. They’re just essays brought forth from my miniscule brain and put to paper. But they make me happy, so they’re important to me. I suppose I’ll keep writing them as long as my fingers hold out on me and for as long as there are people willing to read them.
I’m not sure if I’ll ever explain this in a way that makes a lot of sense to you, dear reader, but I’ll try: the things that I experience and create that I place value on have “form” to me. What I mean is that as I’ve crafted this essay in my head before writing it, and I can see it as an object. It has mass, and a beginning and an end. It has the intro part, and it has the body, and it has a conclusion. It has a fluidity that I can see in my mind and I suppose it’s always been that way with me. These essays become art for me, and are things that I sculpt, chisel, and smash into existence. I’m sure that’s difficult to conceptualize as they are simply words on paper, but in my mind and my heart, they are very real, they exist, and I can actually touch them.
When I used to play and sing guitar throughout the area, the music had a similar characteristic. The verse, the chorus, the bridge…they were Lego pieces in my mind that I pieced together slowly and methodically until I had created the art that I saw in my head. I have done no research to see if this is a normal concept for people that write or create, but in the end I suppose it doesn’t matter. My point is that these things that I create are more real to me than you can imagine.
Some of these essays get tons of feedback and compliments, and some disappear in the mist without so much as a word. Some of them are popular and some are not. I often laugh that when I like an essay, nobody else does. And vice-versa. Regardless, the act of creation is pretty universal for me. There can be months of introspection about these nonsensical topics I discuss before my brain can begin to see the “form” of what I’d like to say. So whether they’re popular and well-received or not, the time spent crafting the message is pretty much the same.
I’ve found that after writing these essays, I like to go away from them for a while before re-reading them. I know what I’m trying to say, and I can see the sculpture I want to create, but when you come back to it a few weeks later, you can see where you missed the mark and need to edit. It also depends on my mood; if I’m stressed or hurried, I can’t seem to focus enough to really care as much as I should. Details get past me. Misspellings. Clunky sentences. When my brain isn’t focused on what I’m doing, I half-ass it. It’s no longer creation – it’s WORK. When that happens, it’s best to walk away as NOBODY wants to do “work”.
On a recent walk by the lake with my 3 kids, I had a thought about art. And work. And form. And creation. And how I probably miss most of the beautiful parts of each.
We were walking through a trail by the lake and we were each ducking our heads around the myriad of bare limbs reaching out across our path. Somebody was telling a story about something from school, and someone sneezed. As I brought up the rear of our group, I looked up and the sun was poking brilliantly between the sparse leaves. It was like a fire above my daughter’s head as she turned toward me, with a huge smile, and laughed heartily. I don’t know why she was laughing, but that’s unimportant. Her hair was blowing slightly in the wind, and her beauty had me catch my breath. My sons were behind her, and each was smiling ear to ear, and I could see the ferocity of adventure in their eyes. For a split second, I could see how their jaw lines were going to grow and become so strong. My middle son’s hands were wrapped around a small tree, and again, for a moment I could see the future muscle in his arms. My youngest’s eyes, full of youth, were momentarily full of wisdom and age and fire. I stopped, smiled, and took in that picture with a hunger so fierce, because as soon as it was there, it was gone.
I can still see that moment like a photograph. I wish I could paint it, but I never could. The form, the shapes, the light…the smiles. I pray they’ll exist forever in my mind and my heart. It was the ultimate creation of art, and it almost moved me to tears.
So I laid in bed the next few nights, and I thought a lot about that moment. I thought about how it all lined up perfect to create that picture of happiness and beauty and strength and how all the elements of light and laughter and wind had to be just right in order to create that beauty.
It was as if someone planned it and prayed that I saw the planning that went into the creation in order to fully appreciate it. Kind of like these essays?
I’ve been wandering around these past few weeks trying to….focus. I’ve been trying to see if I can see more beauty, and more art, and more glorious, beautiful faces that are wandering around this world with me. I’ve been trying to rush less, and see more. I’ve been trying to talk less, and listen more. To glance less, and to focus more. To think less, and dream more.
What I’m finding is that the more I open my eyes (and my heart) to the beauty around me, the more of it I find. I catch myself staring at the way that a butterfly is fluttering from flower to flower and think about how it’s almost as if God planned the colors of the flowers, the way the sunlight is shining, the way that the wind is gently blowing…to create this moment of beauty. Just for me. It’s as if He envisioned this moment for me, planned it, sculpted it, and presented it all out there for me in the best way possible. And if I’m paying attention, I’ll get it. If not, I’ll surf Facebook on my phone.
I know that this little essay might be a bit of a stretch (and probably too spiritual for some), and I’m ok with that. I suppose that the beauty in all of our lives is something that we should all seek, and celebrate the planning behind the creation.
The parts that you planned, and more importantly, the parts that were planned for you. For there are many. I promise.
Welcome to March – there’s something beautiful happening around you, but you have to open your heart to it. EXPLORE, dream, laugh, and breathe deeply my friend.
Benjamin D. Schooley