Rising Early with Henry David Thoreau

Thoreau in the Man Cave

Years ago, after delivering a sermon at a Unitarian Church, a used-book dealer approached me on the parking lot.  Henry David Thoreau had played a role in the morning sermon, and I was ecstatic when this man opened the trunk of his car to reveal The Journal of Henry D Thoreau in 14 volumes.  Within minutes, I was writing him a check.

I have one of the volumes open on my drafting table, as I have resumed reading them since school let out.  From this morning, I gathered the following:

All sound is nearly akin to Silence; it is a bubble on her surface which straightway bursts, an emblem of the strength and prolificness of the undercurrent.  . . .  Silence is the universal refuge, the sequel of all dry discourses and all foolish acts, as balm to our every chagrin, as welcome after satiety as [after] disappointment; that background which the painter may not daub . . .   (December 15, 1838)

When the poetic frenzy seizes us, we run and scratch with our pen, delighting, like the cock, in the dust we make, but do not detect where the jewel lies, which perhaps we have in the meantime cast o a distance, or quite covered up again.   (February 8, 1839)

These sentiments lie at the heart of my pursuit of art.  The silent Art lies beneath the surface of all my artwork, a rock foundation that I can never quite uncover, can never expose.  But it is there.  And all my theories scratch at the hard crust covering the Truth.  I love and reverence that silence, and feel it most profoundly in the morning, when no one else is at hand, and the suburbs have not yet awakened to make noise.

So, I’m in the man cave.  I arrived at  5:40 this morning, and I’m ready to get to work.  I love beginning my days with writing in my journal and reading something of value.  This act is not what Ian Roberts humorously identifies as “creativity rituals and altar-making and mask-making in order to get unstuck and get started.”  I highly recommend his book Creative Authenticity.  His writings often play a role in my morning watch before I get started in the studio.

Time to paint.  Thanks for reading.


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