Retreat to the Wilderness

"Walden" Painting hanging in Arlington Martin High School library

“Walden” Painting hanging in Arlington Martin High School library

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Rene Descartes crawled into a stove late one winter night, to think things through.  Ralph Waldo Emerson launched his two-year European odyssey following the tragic death of his young wife, hoping to figure out what to do next.  Henry David Thoreau retreated to Walden woods for two years, two months, two days, building a cabin and residing there to listen to nature, to learn directly from her, and figure out how to proceed with his life.  We always refer to these retreats to the wilderness as times to retool, to rethink, to retread and figure out how next to move on.

I just came off a disastrous art festival this past weekend–three days outdoors in the rage of arctic temperatures and gale winds (Texas weather the weekend before was in the 80’s and sunny).  The horrendous weather managed to chase away all patrons, leaving artists and musicians hanging out to freeze in the cold winds.  The event was finally canceled Sunday morning.  We folded our tents, packed our creations, loaded out, and headed for our home shelters.  In breaking down my tent, I sliced open my thumb on the right hand, making it impossible for a couple of days to hold a pen, a paintbrush, or even play a guitar.  Gloom.

Monday following the event saw me looking down the bore of a cannon called Progress Grade reporting.  Deadline was midnight.  So, after a day of teaching (following that disastrous arctic weekend of loading, unloading and injuring), I came home from school and inputted grades on the computer until 12:37 a.m.  Then it was up again at 6:00 a.m. for another weary round of teaching.

All of this to say, I haven’t blogged since Friday because I have been up to my eyebrows in trouble.  I have been unable to paint due to the injury and the crushing deadlines and loss of sleep.

But now, the wilderness has opened up and beckoned.  I have been invited to accompany the art club from my high school on a field trip to the Dallas Museum of Art.  And at the end of the day, an invitation awaits to attend the evening events at the Amon Carter Art Museum in Fort Worth.  That, to me, is a gift from the Divine.  A chance to retreat to the wilderness, to immerse myself in the finest art, and to reflect on where to go next with my own pursuits.  A healing balm.  Long overdue.

My earnest hope is that the next blog post will be soon, and will feature my next endeavor.  I really want to push something else out, something new.  But for tonight, I leave you with a 3 x 4′ acrylic canvas I painted for our Martin High School library, featuring Thoreau and his treasured book Walden.  

Tomorrow, before leaving for the museum odyssey, I am thrilled to sit with my Philosophy class and discuss the text of Walden and to apply this spiritual principle of retreat and renewal, found in the solitary wilderness.

Thanks for reading.

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4 Responses to “Retreat to the Wilderness”

  1. Vickie Cunningham Photography Says:

    Enjoy your museum trip! Sorry to hear about the art festival…those things can be so hit or miss; I gave up on them a few years ago. I’m in Asheville, North Carolina for the week, having decided I’ll ultimately move here. It’s an incredible town. Best to you and your thumb!


    • davidtripp Says:

      Thank you, Vickie. Asheville, I’m so jealous! I hope it turned out to be all you needed for what you enjoy doing. I would like to give up on the art festivals. I’m very tired of them, but still need that extra income when it is available. Very tired of the gamble though (along with the set-up and tear-down).


  2. BJR Says:

    So sorry about the cold/cut short art festival. Must have been very disappointing. And the sliced thumb! Glad you have something to look forward to!


    • davidtripp Says:

      Sorry for the long absence, BJR. The wilderness time did what it needed to do on my soul. I’m back to creating consistently (in quantity, though not quality!). It’s a good feeling, pushing out new work.


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