Coming to Terms with my Vocation

Carving out a Space for Art

Carving out a Space for Art

I am born a poet, of a low class without doubt, yet a poet.  That is my nature and vocation.  My singing, be sure, is very “husky,” and is for the most part in prose. Still am I a poet in the sense of a perceiver and dear lover of the harmonies that are in the soul and in matter, and specially of the correspondences between these and those.  A sunset, a forest, a snow-storm, a certain river-view, are more to me than many friends and do ordinarily divide my day with my books.  Wherever I go therefore I guard and study my rambling propensities with a care that is ridiculous to people, but to me is the care of my high calling.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, February 1, 1835

The first time I seriously read Emerson in 1989, I felt that he was writing exactly what I was feeling.  It was true then, and it is true now.  Since that year, I have used every excuse to bring him into my classes–Humanities, English, Philosophy, Art History–I have trouble choosing between him and Paul Tillich (aside from the host of visual artists in history) for the number one muse that drives my ideas and feeds my art.  I am able to cope with a solitary existence because of Emerson’s affirmations (and it goes without saying that I am surrounded by people during the normal working hours of the day).

I love what Hannah Arrendt referred to as “the life of the mind.”  Throughout each day of my existence, I have been unable to shut down my mind from the flurry of ideas that crowd it, and I frequently feel that need to retreat from the noise of the public and sort these things out, either in my journal, my blogging or my attempts to create art.  Emerson referred to that lifestyle as one of a “poet” and perhaps he was referring to the Greek term (he was fluent in that language) which is more loosely applied to a “creator.”  In that sense, I could call myself a poet.  And, looking back over the past four decades of my employment history, I have always been a poet.  It didn’t matter if I was welding, delivering packages, dispatching for police departments, preaching from pulpits, or lecturing in college and high school classrooms, I always lived for those moments when I was “off the clock” so I could read, think, and make art or music.  I have always breathed my purest air when living the lfe of the mind.

Today I introduced Emerson into my high school philosophy class.  Though I did not put the above quote on the blackboard (I had others), these words have lingered with me throughout this day and throughout this evening while tidying my home, my studio, and my office space.  I have posted above a small piece of my garage (man cave) where I have been assembling a still life and adjusting a drafting table to get the angle I want to pursue in my next serious endeavor.  The hour is drawing late, and I still have to finish preparing art history for tomorrow morning, so reluctantly I leave this space and return to the responsibilities of my job.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

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One Response to “Coming to Terms with my Vocation”

  1. lifeofawillow Says:

    beautiful words. both his and yours.


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