Friday, March 20, 2015

An Invisible Presence


As usual, doubts rush in. I get it all too quick, too thin, too surface bright?

                                                                                           Virginia Woolf

In the moonlit comfort of morning,

she hears birdsong. Their full chorus

impels  her to rise and write

of some place.  Beauty with hills and harbor,

spires and passageway to a garden

where a female shadow

appears in its fountain beneath

a snood of vine leaves. Where the woman

is barely seen but sensed, convalescing

from sorrow, anger -- a love affair that flew

too near the sun. The faint light of it

shimmering on water, the shedding

of its moments --  dandelion dust....


and there, the idea breaks. A cup of mint

tea in hand,  she turns toward the typewriter.

The tarnished keys shine with a sheet

rolled over the bar like a blank caste

wanting her signature. And what -- if she signs

her soul to resetting this scene

on paper, plotting to the end? In just weeks

it could languish in the waste basket.  A corsage

of  crumpled prose she never wore

long enough to dance or drink champagne. And what then?

what then? What then-- the birdsong

will sound different.
Art impels us to rise and create, to strive in our imaginative capacity to shape an experience through words, paint or music. We crave to emulate those literary and gallery masters who came before us and hungered our tongues for more. For our own application of the craft, the skill. And yet, when we take up the task, there is that terrible presence of uncertainty, invisible and spreading its shadow over our minds and confidence. Though we dare to commence a project, envision a narrative or painting in our heads, we might stop suddenly asking if its worth the effort, the let down of dislike, the depletion of energy and  joy. The rise and fall of self (in that moment) invokes the beauty of being vulnerable, fragile enough to know we are delicate instruments that need tuning and care. Creativity is a fluid object we must refine and polish, not live without. And no one knew the struggle and necessity of the creative process more than Virginia Woolf. I read in her diaries how the art of writing buoyed her for hours and then the doubt would set in, prompting her to confess -- she would totally hate the it days or weeks later. Almost hate it enough to discard the entire work, contemplate abandoning her craft.

Note -- Beautiful artwork is by artist, Felix Mas

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