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Wednesday, June 4, 2014


Upon reading the prompt for the week, I couldn't remember all the instructions, so I went with the first one to carry in my head as I ponder how to approach the prompt. Make a list of my own character traits. Next was to pick up six objects, one for each character trait. When I came to six character traits I didn't go any further. They came to mind while driving with radio off. They are: 1. Curiosity; 2, Appreciation; 3, Balance; 4, Compassion; 5, Willfulness; 6, Integrity. Next, go about one's own environment and pick up six objects, one for each of the character traits, then assemble them together in arrangement. For Curiosity I picked up a piece of old, old wood so dehydrated it is almost feather weight; it has a shape that makes me curious how it got that way and how to relate it to the others. I picked it up almost at random. First, I picked up a small pyramid, a museum reproduction that I love. It is a scale model of the Egyptian pyramid, Cheops, the one with its peak intact. I chose for the pyramid to represent Appreciation. Next I wanted something for Balance. The monkey standing on one hand. I went into the next room where I keep found things mostly on a table. I picked up two little blocks of wood to see what they were. Because they were in my hand, I accepted them as a spontaneous choice. One was a quarter inch thick, an inch and a half square. The other is less that two by three inches, and half an inch thick. My hand went to a wooden ruler and picked it up. Because I picked it up, I kept it. It felt significant. Ended up with seven, thinking it was six. Arranged them, took pictures of them, and now find I have no character trait listed for the ruler represent. Context came to mind, It's there for context, something to go by for a scale of the objects and their arrangement. I can say the ruler is my liking for context in writing and in understanding. Context is perspective, environment, emotional state. Context was the original purpose for judges in our legal system. The ruler puts everything around it in perspective. It's an eighteen inch ruler, a foot and a half.
nsa satellite view
Compassion is the square of wood standing upright balancing a rock that is Willfulness. This was the one that went together subconsciously. I put the rock on top to see if it would balance. It did. They belonged together. Then found I'd put my willfulness held up by compassion. It looks like a good balancing act. My willfulness is held up by compassion for myself. I don't think of willfulness as self-assertion, but standing firm on one's feet. In the martial arts being firmly on your feet is number one. Your opponent will attempt to kick a foot out from under you to put you off balance and take advantage of the lapse. My willfulness can possibly be seen as a grounding device. I can make a case for a compassionate heart that keeps the willful aspect of my nature active. The compassion is for all sentient beings, self included. We tend too often to leave out self where love, compassion and birthday presents are concerned. I see a donkey willful. If you want to push a donkey and it doesn't want to go, you can push all day and the donkey's not going anywhere. That's me. Somebody stopped here one day driving a Jeep Cherokee with gold chrome and asked me what I wanted for the house. I told him it's not for sale. He said everything is for sale for the right price. I said, You don't have enough. He told me I don't know that. I said, You don't know me. Never saw him again. I didn't like his urban arrogance at the start and really didn't like it by the end. I walked back to the house when he left, thinking the mountain would never forgive me if I sold this piece of the mountain to him. Already, in my lifetime, my little eight acres is in woods and meadow with little old house that once was the Air Bellows schoolhouse. I could not live if I were to sell this place to anybody. No house I could live in would satisfy me as much. This is my home and it is not for sale. Money does not have that much value for me. Money comes and money goes. I'm just a channel that some of it passes through. I never buy a lottery ticket out of fear of winning. I don't want the headache, stress, the worry that goes with it. Security. Guns and locks to protect everything. Somebody comes in here wanting to steal something will look around in horror: books everywhere. Books to a thief are  crosses to a vampire.  
natural balance
The rectangle of wood the monkey is balancing on I call Integrity. Integrity was something I learned about not long out of high school, after being done with a lifetime of church, after I'd started reading Henry Miller, Alan Watts, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Henry Thoreau. Somebody I knew in that time and have no recollection of was impressed with just learning how important integrity was. I gave it quite a lot of thought and convinced myself of its importance. Personal integrity had nothing to do with church. It was free-thinking shit. As soon as I shook off a lifetime of regimentation by other people's rules, for my own good, I began discovering and learning that there was reading outside school a whole lot better educationally than in school, anyway through public school. That time was the awakening of my self-education. Church was about no, don't and you-better-not. I needed to learn how to live in this world in a hurry. I didn't know what to do. I only knew a list ten miles long of what not to do. Entering the world of living by my own decisions, integrity seemed like a good ingredient to live by. Teachers in school never talked about it. It was never a subject of interest in church. I'm glad I learned about it later, however. Had it been taught in school or church it would have been a commandment or an oughta, something else to feel guilty for not being perfect at. As something to look toward, as something that convinces me in itself that integrity is a good guideline to live by, it becomes a light on its own, without guilt attached to it. For the construction, I felt like integrity made a good foundation for balance. The piece of old wood with an incomplete circle in it looks like a big fish eating Compassion. But I feel it a harbor; the wood the land, an island perhaps. It's a harbor for compassion to be safe from emotional storms. The old wood is Curiosity. Curiosity provides shelter for Compassion, the heart. Curiosity keeps me entertained by way of books and film, curiosity about the history of humanity all the way back, so much curiosity it's just a general curiosity that covers all. Curiosity has been my educator. Curiosity might have killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back. Curiosity is the foundation of all my interests, the spurs on my cowboy boots. Curiosity can be seen the seat of figuring things out. Like a time I got on the Blue Ridge Parkway and drove ten miles, uphill and downhill, at least half the way on the sheerest ice there is, the smooth ice dense fog and mist makes. Curiosity made me do it. I believed I could make it, believed it so much with front wheel drive and a car I knew well, I set out to make it an exam on what I have learned over the years in the mountains about driving on ice. It's next to impossible. Once I committed, it was on. It really is a subtle skill. I could not have made it a tenth of a mile in the first years. Gave myself an A with an objective eye on completing the test. To give you an idea of what its like, I had to breathe consciously or not breathe at all. Only lost traction once, predicted it, was ready for it when I went into it, caught traction right away. I don't like to take chances that could mess up my car, but believed I could make it, believed it so strongly I chose to take the test. I was thinking this is about what it's like going 200 mph on a racetrack, touch the brake and you slide wherever the momentum takes you until you bump into a wall. I didn't want to do that.   
the sailboat compassion carries the rock of willfulness
into the harbor of curiosity
I chose a cedar board I'd brought into the house to paint on eventually. It seemed like a good surface to arrange the objects on. I chose not to think of them as abstractions of my nature, but their shapes only and sizes. I scooted them around on the board. At first I was arranging in rows on either side of the crack that runs up the middle. I've reinforced the back of the board with braces so the crack will never be a problem, only an aesthetic consideration. I wasn't thinking about the rock as anything but a rock, the pyramid a square triangle, the monkey. Balance is important to me and I like the monkey around where I can see it, a light-hearted symbol for balance. It was a gift from my sister Nancy years ago. We buy each other monkey toys sometimes for birthday or Christmas. In childhood I called her monkey. She hated it, I did it all the more. Now we send each other surprise monkey things, like emailing a picture of a monkey that looks particularly funny. Perhaps the monkey has become a symbol of our bond in adult life we missed in childhood. I pushed the objects around, dissatisfied with every way they happened. Too much mind and it showed. I was going with the lines and shape of the board. Told myself to make everything askew, accidental in relation to each other, the edge of the board just the limit of space, a party on a balcony. The ruler was the biggest problem. Over and over I'd place it in relation to the lines of the board. Said to myself, pay it no mind. Let it do whatever it does. As I moved objects around, the ruler was moved out of the way several times. When I found the arrangement I liked, the ruler was off the board at both ends and looked good. It would look good on the board where it is if it were the only thing on the board. I like that Context includes off the board, and that it works aesthetically in relation to the board independent of the other objects, yet flows with them in the arrangement. And the pyramid of appreciation. My soul must have had a propensity for appreciation. I can't find where it came from by family, church or school influence. My grandmother had much appreciation and taught me to appreciate canary song, how to handle birds, how to transplant flowers so they'll live, appreciation for birds, appreciation for chickens, for puzzles. Aesthetic appreciation I cannot put a finger on for origin. Seems like it was already in my soul and floated up to the surface as it found opportunity. Aesthetic considerations have guided much of my curiosity along the way, in all kinds of various ways. Come to think of it, much of my curiosity is aesthetic related. I would rather read biographies of artists, writers and musicians than politicians or generals. Somebody once insisted I read Henry Kissinger's memoir, I'd love it. I said, You don't know me at all.
grumpy old bastard, by cheyanne

1 comment:

  1. I love the way you first decided on your characteristics then found objects or let them find you to represent each one...but the best part was how you went into such detail about the objects and meaning to you of them...Enjoyed this read very much...Love Cheyenne's photos