Posts Tagged ‘Harold and the Purple Crayon’

Building my House

August 22, 2019

Every Spirit builds itself a house; and beyond itself, a world; and beyond its world a heaven. Know then, that the world exists for you: Build therefore your own world.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Language is the precinct (templum), that is, the house of Being. The nature of language does not exhaust itself in signifying, nor is it merely something that has the character of sign or cipher. It is because language is the house of Being, that we reach what is by constantly going through this house.

Martin Heidegger, “What are Poets For?”

After enduring 2 1/2 days with no Internet service, AT&T finally got to my home late yesterday and fixed the problem. Throughout the day, while waiting for the technician (promised between noon and 2:00, and finally arriving after 5:00), I spent an entire day at my desk re-reading journals from my past and reveling in the memories. One of the entires prompted me to find my copy of Harold and the Purple Crayon and read it once again for the pure delight the story offers.

These retirement years are given more now to carving out my own world and coloring it as I see fit. Last night, a friend whom I hadn’t seen in nearly three years surprised me with a text and later stopped by. What an experience, catching up on what we had been through (he also is retired from full-time teaching), and how we now are looking for ways to color our new expanding worlds. Both of us love painting, exploring new ideas, and yes we both have signed contracts to continue teaching, but we are no longer tied to the routine we had known for decades on end. Gratefully, we have reached this point in our lives that we can choose to shape our journeys as we wish. And as we talked late into the night, I found myself again confronted with the reality that ideas, shaped by words, create the framework of the world in which we find our identities. The night proved fascinating, as the two of us shared our visions and anticipations of what to expect from a world we find more and more affirming.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Reaching for the Purple Crayon

March 2, 2015
An Attempt to Color My World

An Attempt to Color My World

The mind fits the world and shapes it as a river fits and shapes its own banks.

Annie Dillard, Living By Fiction

With these words, I drifted off to sleep around 1:00 this morning, knowing I would have only four hours of less-than-quality sleep. Nevertheless, when I rose at 5:00, I had Annie’s words still in my heart, and reached for a children’s book that I did not discover until only a few years ago: Harold and the Purple Crayon. I felt my pulse quicken as I re-read the text of this young lad creating his own environment, and I then determined that this would be an artful day. I would go forth and color my own world. I have a great job, I believe in what I do, and a wonderful perk of teaching is the daily invitation to create quality in life as you pass in and out of the classroom.

Every morning was a cheerful invitation to make my life of equal simplicity, and I may say innocence, with Nature herself. I have been as sincere a worshipper of Aurora as the Greeks. . . . The morning, which is the most memorable season of the day, is the awakening hour.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

By 6:00, I was seated in the back of my darkened classroom, delighted with the cold, wet winter pre-dawn, and reminded that two winters ago I sat in this same place at the same hour and read Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. Stirred by the remembrance of Hemingway’s cold mornings spent in the rooftop Parisian apartment where he worked at perfecting his craft, I went to work on the first draft for this daily blog.

Once the students arrived around 7:30, the work day began, and it was a quality one for me. In A. P. Art History we looked at the Dutch and Flemish Baroque, focusing on Rembrandt and Rubens, then in Regular Art History we resumed our study of Leonardo da Vinci. I continued to draw new ideas concerning these creative spirits, not only from my own studies but also by well-placed queries from my engaging students. Together we worked at coloring this day.

Tonight was Open House. On a forty-degree rainy winter’s night, I knew not to anticipate large crowds. Three parents arrived to chat with me during the first ten minutes of the hour-long session, and that was that. Seated at my podium, I took out my draft of this blog and continued to push it along. Reflecting over a day that held plenty of creative surprises, I mused over all the people I’ve met throughout my life who hate their jobs, their daily routines. As for me, there have been some low moments over my twenty-six-year tenure as a teacher, but I can overwhelmingly testify that it has yielded a life overflowing with reward and daily creative opportunity.

Open House Night

Open House Night

Joseph Heller, author of Catch 22, began working on his second novel that would be titled Something Happened. After working on it for ten years, he had yet to finish and publish the novel, and in an interview, all he could say of the work was: “I’m about two hundred pages in, and it’s about this guy–but I don’t know much about him–I know he has a job, but I don’t know what it is, or what he does. He has this family, but I don’t really know who they are or where they live, I don’t even know his name. He just goes to work and he comes home, and that’s about all.” That interview prompted me to purchase Something Happened, and my heart cried as I read the story of this man’s empty life, and how it reminded me of so many with whom I’ve visited throughout the years–successful people who felt empty, people who learned the art of making a living, but still didn’t know how to live.

I am writing this tonight to anyone out there who finds life empty and woefully short on meaning. It doesn’t have to be that way; you have the power within your own mind to create a meaningful, artful life. You have all the resources within your grasp. You have the purple crayon.

You are more than your daily job.

You are more than a member of your nuclear family.

You are more than a resident in your surrounding neighborhood.

You are Harold, and you wield the purple crayon. Go forth and color your world as you see fit. If today was a pale, colorless day, tomorrow does not have to be a repeat performance.

It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts. 

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

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.