The door is open, airing the place out a bit. Spring is bursting out all over and as soon as I wipe some of it off I'll get down to writing something ponderous to ponder upon.
This is an open thread. No membership fees will be collected, no salesman will call, no need to wipe your shoes if you decide to hop over the little orange hairball with me.
Today I'm thinking about fighting depression, art and creativity, the transient nature of fame, and the transient nature of nature.
[A few band-width friendly photos accompany the text]
Last week I went on a bit of a rant about planned obsolescence. I became a little grumpy as I mumbled about the lack of backwards compatibility and the idiocy of innovation for the sake of novelty. I've gotten a bit disgruntled with companies that just spew out new products instead of producing better products.
This week I've been stuck mostly indoors plonking away at some dreary graphic design work. That in itself was depressing enough. I didn't need to sit down to write this week and dwell on all that wretched consumerism again.
I've been unknowingly following many of the items of advice on a list of 21 Tips to Keep Your Shit Together When You're Depressed. There's some quite good advice on that list and it's even entertainingly well-written. I don't know how I'd be diagnosed but despite all the love and privilege in my life I sure seem to make life seem like an awful challenge. Which may explain why so many of my creations are kinda grim.
Unfired clay skull, digitally photographed in front of mirrors.
Yet, despite my dull obsession with dead things, my life really revolves around growth, creativity and that curious little human quirk called "hope for the future." There's a lovely Spring drizzle going on in Prague pretty much all week and I still decided to make good on my promise to get out of the apartment for a walk and get some exercise each day. Perhaps I'm just going though the last stages of a wintry mope? Maybe I simply react poorly to all changes? I needed to get out into the wider world and embrace Spring and change.
On Thursday I set off with the intention of just seeing how far I could get within a half an hour-- but I'm distractible [sigh, there's another one to add to my moronic Spell Check-- and why can't I delete things from Spell Check? Since when is 'i' a word in the English language? A lower case letter i? Seriously? I don't have Czech Spell Check activated! Where was I? Oh yeah, distractible...] and I found myself taking a little side trip because I remembered wanting to take a picture of something vaguely in the area I was walking past. I remembered a lone bit of playground equipment standing forlorn in an overgrown area. It was one of those wooden animal shapes on a sturdy coil base that children can sit on and ride-- rocking back and forth and wobbling around. It was a lovely little, weathered, horse-shaped symbol of so many things that were on my mind that morning: my children growing up, my own march of mortality, the things we once treasured and have now set aside and forgotten.
I looked around for the little horse (or was it a zebra?) and walked past the place it had been a couple of times, noticing all the brush and grass cutting that had recently happened in the area, before I saw what was left of the spring:
As I left the area and continued on my way, I passed a small group of men and a van. They were cutting and supervising the cutting and stacking and supervising the stacking of piles of brush. Spring cleaning had Spring cleaned away my spring horse-- leaving behind the spring.
That green railing seen in the wide shot above is a protective railing around a culvert that flows into a stream that leads into a pond. With most of the brush cut away you could finally see the stream and I think it'll be a more popular area now. A beautiful area for a walk.
I walked on along the stream, past the pond, and started following a valley up until I reached the end of my allotted time. I stopped to take some photos:
Some of the earliest Spring flowers! I suppose they're a variety of wood violet.
I noted the tags decorating the overflow pipe from the top of an embankment that had turned the valley into a reservoir and thought about kids I've talked to about why they sprayed their tags on everything. I don't mind it so much when it's on an ugly gray hunk of concrete pipe but everywhere I see this form of graffiti I think about how sad it is. It seems a pretty pathetic squawk from these little plucked roosters. This is their art, this is the way they make their mark on the world-- a fizzling little spurt of expensive canned paint applied without skill or showing any talent. There is some wonderful graffiti art adorning the walls of Prague but these drab, tiny tags are just depressing. I once drew a cartoon of two dogs looking at a graffiti covered wall and one says to the other "Not bad, but I prefer to work in piss."
I turned to head home, my elder lad was home from school with a sore throat and nausea and I had promised some chicken soup for lunch. I walked a short distance before I noticed a dog on a path below me; just a big, red-brown, spotty Spaniel or Setter sort of dog, with a jaunty plume of a tail, out for a run and well ahead of his owner. And yes, being a male dog it wasn't more than a couple of seconds before he decorated a tree beside the path with his own fragrant tag. Cheaper than spray paint but I suppose it doesn't last. And yet, so full of meaning if you're looking for that sort of thing in an art form.
The dog looked up at me on my path as he pissed and then trotted along, keeping pace with me, as he went back to check on his owner. The owner turned out to be a slow moving, white-haired woman who wasn't nearly as observant as her dog. As I walked past she pulled down her bloomers and urinated on the path. Ah, the silent and observant werelynx occasionally sees a tad more than he expected.
I decided that perhaps fate was laughing at my own pretensions. In the grand geological life of this planet how are my works of art, my grand creations, any more permanent than a blot of rapidly weathering blue paint, or a dribble of dog piss? All my hours of study and struggle, all my glorious artistic talents-- and here I am simply squatting on the path to relieve myself.
So much for immortality.
The creative urge, this odd artistic temperament of mine has to be driven by more than just a desire for marking territory. Whether that territory is defined by space or time, any mark I make on it will be tiny, fleeting. My drawings will crumble to dust, the boards and canvas of my paintings will rot, the seasons will crumble my ceramics into sand. One good power surge, an ill-placed magnet, could wipe away these words as I type them. And still, I type. I try to find time amid the drudgery of typesetting and layout that is my work this week to draw a little, to get out my dwindling supply of clay and sculpt something that I don't know if I have the skill to complete. And I suppose I do it truly just because I have to. I have to do something creative. I have to make things. I have to grow.
What isn't growing is decaying. And all of it, everything, is changing.
I create, I build, I try to be a helpful, nurturing influence in the lives I can touch with my limited reach; during the brief blip of time that I yet occupy. I've even started a few new lives this week-- I've got some seeds germinating out on the kitchen counter. I'm getting an early start on my garden. Hopefully there will be some strong young plants for me to transplant in another month or so. With the kind permission of the beasties that share my garden there might be some fresh, tasty vegetables for me, my family, our friends-- eventually.
Perhaps that's the way I should be thinking of my artwork. If all goes well it might turn out to be something tasty that will bring a nourishing moment into someone's life before -- well, before like all things it becomes a spot left behind on the path.