Clearing out the Debris

A Friday Evening Return to the Studio

A Friday Evening Return to the Studio

Only when the soul is alone can the magic of the universe flow through it.

It needs silence for the murmur of the long centuries to grow audible, for the mystery of the cosmic procession to make itself felt.

And this silence can be attained in the maddest hurly-burly of the most crowded city. Material noises, material uproar, cannot interfere with it.

What destroys it are the crowd-thoughts, the vulgar clamour made by the thoughts that are no-thoughts.

Life is full of mysterious Presences voyaging to and fro; Presences that are god-like. But these Presences can only be caught upon their airy journeys by minds that have learnt the secret of being alone.

To converse with the Gods you must become as the Gods; and this means that you must cultivate loneliness. Where ‘two or three are gathered together’ the Gods flee away!

John Cowper Powys, A Philosophy of Solitude

Tonight, as the sweet sounds of Bach fugues fill my chamber, I resolve in this blog not to discuss the past week, which consisted exclusively of grading and deadlines. I am just delighted to have finished shoveling all that debris out of the barn, and happy that I got to sit down to my watercolor before the daylight ended, and now my heart is filled with gladness at this delicious opportunity for reading and writing about things closer to my heart. I have a task to perform for tomorrow, but I anticipate it to be a glorious opportunity. The rest of this night is mine.

Recently, I re-read Anthony Storr’s Solitude and drew indescribable riches from those pages. Now I am re-reading the Powys book, and the words are coming to me in the fulness of time. I recall a proverb that said when the student is ready, the master will appear. Well, I have been ready all week, with the yammering sounds of voices about me throughout each day at work, and sitting down in the evening to complete assignments, unable to shut out the residue of all that yammering. Yet through the tumult, I have been teaching Nietzsche’s ideas to my philosophy class, and many of his writings have found ways to get next to my heart in the midst of all the hurly-burly.

When I finished my last task, about an hour ago, I drew out my journal and fountain pen, and wrote without stopping until five pages lay before me. And I felt that I was just getting started. Looking up at the watercolor across the studio, I realized the light was fading, so I gave myself thirty minutes to move it into the next stages. Once the light faded, it was back to the journal to write some more, and then I felt prompted to re-visit some journals of mine from recent years. Reaching back to 2013, I found a number of ideas recorded and since forgotten, and they are exactly what I needed for this day. The quote from Powys was the real capper. I felt “visited” and just sighed deeply with profound gratitude for that soothing feel. My breathing changed, and suddenly I realized: “O yeah. The Blog. It’s been awhile.” I feel it would have been fruitless to try and kick out some words during any of the recent days. It’s so rich, being back at this life that I love so much.

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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