Lake Superior draws me to it. It is where I am refreshed, nurtured, safe…
It is where I go to wander, to explore, to dance, to laugh, to sing, to pray. Superior is always waving hello, or good-bye, or dancing or laughing. Off to the Lake I go, to think and be inspired and work, to be in touch with the universe and myself. Superior is never boring! I may go with friends. I may go alone. I go for time-outs, for joy, to celebrate life.
Some may ask, what does this have to do with being an artist, making art? How to explain… that. It attunes my senses. I become attuned to the world. Sometimes “it” comes in experiencing the vastness, the seemingly endless horizons, in every direction. The horizon line is seen, the vertical lines are not, and yet I know there is great depth under these waters, life unseen, unheard – the mysteries.
Spending a lot of time with the Lake is like getting to know someone intimately. There is water, there are stones, sand, wind, color, shape, contrast, texture, perspective, sounds, smells. There are tiny drops of water jumping up and laughing. These same drops of water, shape the sand and the stones. The minerals in the water color the stones. The stones are billions of years older than we. These drops of water, in collaboration with each other, push and pull the stones, tumbling them repeatedly, rolling, tossing. Listening to the stones jostle and crack against one another, I can hear them laughing… and they have stories to tell, these ancient stones. Listening to the stones… This poem, just sent by a friend, written by Charles Simic says it so well:
Go inside a stone
That would be my way.
Let somebody else become a dove
Or gnash with a tiger’s tooth.
I am happy to be a stone.
From the outside the stone is a riddle:
No one knows how to answer it.
Yet within, it must be cool and quiet
Even though a cow steps on it full weight,
Even though a child throws it in a river;
The stone sinks, slow, unperturbed
To the river bottom
Where the fishes come to knock on it
I have seen sparks fly out
When two stones are rubbed,
So perhaps it is not dark inside after all;
Perhaps there is a moon shining
From somewhere, as though behind a hill—
Just enough light to make out
The strange writings, the star-charts
On the inner walls.
~ Charles Simic ~
Today, I teach an adult “art” class… or is that an “Art” class? It will be simple. Eyes closed, each person will choose a stone offered by the Lake. Sitting quietly, breathing, they will listen to the stone they chose. Whatever stone they choose, it will be the perfect stone for them. They will hold it in their hands and feel the shape, the weight, and the texture. They will open their eyes, then look and feel and discover. Notice color without judging, just noticing. Some will ask what is it made of, what minerals. Shhh… that is the mind wanting to name, classify, putting the stone in a hierarchy. It just wants to be a stone… and tell its ancient wisdom. Then we will travel into the stone and see, hear what it says, what story it wants to tell.
It may be a happy story, or a sad story, or a funny story. It may be a drawing or a poem or a dance or a song. It may even be scientific information.
Whatever the stone wants to share, when the student is ready the teacher appears… and the sharing will be shared without judgment. In this class, it may be shared as a drawing or a poem, or a story told to others. It may become a science lesson for some. Is there a line between science and art? What color is the line?
You can do this, too. Hold a stone, eyes closed. Feel it. Turn it over in your hand, run your finger over it. Is it rough or smooth, cold or warm? Does it have bumps or dents or cracks? Is it heavy or light? Then open your eyes and look at it.. What color is it? Is it all one color or many? Does it smell? What does it smell like? What does it sound like when you tap it with your fingernail or a stick? Does it offer music? Can you hear its music? Going inside the stone, yes, you can… holding the stone, just breathe yourself into it. You can leave anytime, you are not a prisoner of the stone. It wants you to know what it knows… where has it been? What has it seen? What does it want you to know… about its life, it’s travels, its journeys, its color, its music, is it laughing with you? It will tell you if it is old or young in spirit. All we need to do is listen, to the spirit of the stone… it only takes a minute, once you learn to listen.
Write, draw, paint, dance, sing your stone’s story. Then, if you choose, share it with a friend. They might like to hear the story of your stone! Some may want to simply draw the stone… that’s okay, too, making a portrait of a stone. The stone will love it!
Namaste ~ StarBear – who, today, is listening, learning, laughing, teaching, sharing, dancing… celebrating being alive! 🙂