Posts Tagged ‘John Keats’

Layers

July 27, 2019

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“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” –that is all

            Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

John Keats, “Ode on a Grecian Urn”

I am still trembling at the memories of Friday morning. Having finally returned home after a lengthy vacation of travel out West, I rose at my normal hour and went directly to my writing desk to resume a comfortable practice over the years–drinking coffee, writing in my journal and reading for pure pleasure. Only this time, something felt “off”–I just could not pull up any thoughts that were inspiring and could not stir up interest to pursue anything meaningful. This is rare for me. I was in a rut. Not even knowing what book to retrieve, I finally settled on Julia Cameron’s It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again. Opening to my bookmark halfway through the volume, I hadn’t read far before she brought up her practice of the Morning Pages. I realized, “Oh yeah. I haven’t practiced those for months.”

The Morning Pages are a perfect way to unblock any artist. One simply writes three pages of junk, long hand, as quickly as possible, and then throws them away. It is OK to grouse, grumble and spew; all poison needs to be extracted and then thrown in the trash. By the time the three pages are spent, good positive thoughts are flowing once more. Emerson once used the analogy of the old water pump when addressing this dilemma. He wrote that the pump had to bring up the dirty water before the clear emerged. And so it is often with thinking and writing, for me anyway–the debris has to be cleared away before enlightenment can dawn.

By the time I was on page 2 of my Morning Pages, I looked up at my beautiful coffee mug recently acquired while vacationing in Albuquerque. Immediately I was taken back, way back into my life, peeling back layers of memories. The Southwestern color scheme of teal and bronze recalled for me the day I unlocked the secrets of glaze chemistry while teaching clay at Lamar High School in the early nineties. And then, in the next moment, I was back to 1974, taking a course in clay at Northeast Missouri State University. Professor MacEndorfer was instructing us on the potters wheel. I recalled with a grin that behind his back we referred to him as Menopausal MacEndorfer, because we never knew when his temper was going to explode. It seemed we were always walking on eggshells when he was in the studio.

And then as I continued to gaze at the glossy fired stoneware surface of the coffee mug, my mind went to John Keats and his “Ode on a Grecian Urn.” I pulled his volume from the shelf, read the poem slowly, tasting every precious word, and felt my eyes moisten in gratitude for his gift left to us. The Morning Pages had their way with me, taking me back through layers of memory, filling my heart with warm gratitude for what life has given over the years.

Today is Saturday and I am back at The Gallery at Redlands. It has been weeks since I visited this place, and it fills me with good sentiments to sit at this desk again and resume my art. I have begun a 16 x 20″ watercolor of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and am excited over the possibilities. We’ll see what emerges.

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.