Reading from The Book of Ecclesiastes
The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.
We spend so much time on the hunt. But nothing ever quite does it for us. And we get so wrapped up in the hunt that it makes us miserable.
Dan Harris, author, 10% Happier
For two days, I have been covered in New Year musings, and it’s all good. Yesterday, searching out documentaries to hear while working on my painting, I came across a film that my artist friends have been praising for months: “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things.” Dan Harris is one of the featured speakers throughout the presentation. Halfway through the film I laid down my brush, took a seat, and watched the remainder, and felt tears welling up as it concluded.
The message of the documentary is not new for me; I’ve been hearing these ideas since about 1972, just finishing high school. But I never grow weary of the discussion, and never stop hurting for all the lost souls caught up in the maelstrom of possession fever that can never feel satisfaction.
My personal ritual, since 1973, is to read from The Book of Ecclesiastes during New Years Eve. I just finished doing this a short while ago, and feel moved to post something. The treatise was written by an aged king who had concluded near the end of his life that “there is nothing new under the sun.” One of his most quoted summations is “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity!” This author had gained it all–political power, wealth, physical pleasure, knowledge. He held back on none of his pursuits and apparently never failed. Yet, at the end of his life, he sounds deeply unhappy.
The New Year invites us to be retrospective and prospective. I like that. And, looking back over my past, I acknowledge the many times I have shot for the moon, fell short, and suffered deep dissatisfaction. But that is not what is on my mind this evening, pausing before the New Era arrives. My focus now is on the beauty experienced during this earthly odyssey. Two orbits have never left me impoverished: the pursuit of knowledge and practice of the arts. In those two realms I have been blessed beyond measure. And during this recent holiday, my library and my studio have offered genuine solace. In these two areas I have drawn strength, and am still happy in the pursuits.
After months of soul-searching, I have made the decision to retire at the end of this school year. The five months before me, I am sure, will race by more quickly than the twenty-eight years behind me. I anticipate the closing chapter with gladness. Even more so, I anticipate with gladness the new chapter waiting to be written. Retirement is the reason I’m pursuing a series of paintings now titled “Portals.” There is so much waiting to be explored with any series focusing on the open door.
Thanks for reading, and I wish all of you the very best in life as you prepare to write your next chapter, as you pass through the next portal.
I paint in order to discover.
I journal when I feel alone.
I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.