Fiat!

A simple “Fiat” is the key.

I am a frugal artist. If something is useful, it should be used.  If art is worth creating, it should be on someone’s wall.  Sell it or give it away, but “use it.”  I simply cannot come to grips with the idea of creating anything at all unless it is for a purpose.  My left brain and right brain are equally vociferous! Some will say that art is not practical.  But who said that to be “purposeful” a thing must be practical?  Isn’t the joy one derives from seeing something beautiful practical enough?  So for years, I made art, exhibited it proudly in a large number of juried shows, then put it away in my closet. I was told that to get my art into someone else’s hands, I have to market it. Well that makes sense.  So I initiated my marketing plan.  I gathered up all the free advice I could find from the specialists in the “business of art.”

The first thing they all said was: “To be successful, an artist must spend at least 60% of his/her time on business and 40% on creating art.”  What?  When I broke my week down into these proportions, I found that I had an ever-evasive 20% of my time left for art, since cooking, cleaning  house, errands, showering, eating, paying bills, watching the news… etc. etc. – and my part-time teaching job took a big piece out of that 40%.

But the experts were experts for a reason, so I persisted with that carrot on a stick (future fame) always one step ahead of me. I researched and put into practice as much of the marketing advice I could glean from friends, conferences and websites.  It was taking a lot more than 60% of my time to get rolling, because it was all new, and I couldn’t afford to hire these experts.  I had to go it alone.  I kept telling myself that as soon as I sold a painting or two from my stored artwork, I could afford the materials to paint something new:  even a small amount of “fame” would ease the pressure and let the creative juices flow again.  For you see, they were not flowing any more.  I was discovering that artistic creativity and business savvy are like oil and water. Any artist who can pull off the two of them successfully must be a saint. I couldn’t. I stopped painting!

The end result of my extensive attempts to market my art resulted in more than ten pages of “Lorena Bowser, Artist” on Google, numerous personal and subscribed-to websites, an ever-growing number of excellent testimonials to my work, closets full of previously exhibited art sinking fast into obscurity  – and no sales!  Well, OK, that‘s not entirely true.  Family and friends, and a few anonymous purchases through a friend’s frame shop, represent actual art placed – on average about one artwork a year.  But I had heard the “experts” say many times: “You can make a living from what you love.”  Where had I gone wrong?  Where was the fine line between failure and success?  Was success measured by a few people loving your work and taking it home, or by making a living from what you love?

Fortunately for me, I love other things too. I threw in the towel on art and returned to my language teaching.  Was I giving up or just being practical?  My creative juices were dried up, and my stored art had nowhere to go.  Why continue to produce something that will end up in a dark closet forever.  I couldn’t even give this art to my appreciated admirers.  When I offered, I would hear: “I would feel bad taking your work without paying you for it,” or “Hold on to it.  It will sell one  day.”   Would that be posthumously?   It was time to put into practice my favorite saying:  “Happiness is not getting what you want but wanting what you get!”  After years of wearing myself out to be recognized as an artist, I changed my priorities and said “Fiat!”

Have you ever forgotten a word and tried every way possible to pull it out of your brain with no success, then when you are relaxed and no longer thinking about it, it just pops back in?  Sometimes I think that everything that we experience in life is related in thousands of ways to other experiences yet to be discovered.  Here’s the connection: I forgot art. Art then found me!

I had returned to my language teaching, Art was the furthest thing from my mind, and within a year, on inspiration from a friend from the language school, the art door opened wide and I walked back through. I was creating again, my art was “getting around,” and numerous artworks never saw the inside of my closet.

Where are they?  New artworks are on my language colleague’s wall, plus three old ones that came out of hiding – and I finished two more for him on request. He purchased another from my closet for his mother. One of my students from Germany took a number of my paintings and monotypes home with her and she commissioned two more for her parents’ home – in a little town on the Danube. Hey, I’m international!  Some artworks from my “stash” are now in my Redding friends’ homes, and, on inspiration from my Finnish class connection, I “Finn”ished a sizeable series of artworks on Finland for the Tori Market at FinnFest 2011, several of which sold.  I became a bona fide artist when I returned to my language. I now have art in Paris, Germany, Finland, Japan, Mexico and residing happily on some walls in the U.S.

Is there a moral to this story?  Perhaps it’s time we seriously considered that running circles around ourselves to accomplish lofty goals is not the way to achieve them.  If we do our best at whatever life gives us, what is meant to be, well….it will just happen!

But first, we have to say “FIAT!”

Fiat

 

Follow up article next week: The mercurial wiles of  “Fiat”

Advertisements

Wherefore “Art” Thou?

When I view artwork in a Gallery or through a social media connection, I usually leave well enough alone and only occasionally comment on something that I like, but when I find an artist that breaks out of the mediocre and creates either masterpieces or junk, I want to say:  “People, wake up!   Get your priorities straight! Don’t you know the difference?”
In the world of art today, anything goes.  I respect that. What I do not appreciate is the number of artists who are gaining recognition on the basis of art that is unpleasant to look at, can be copied by other artists, or shows no artistic talent at all!  When such an artist explains his or her work, the words end up as meaningless as their art.  A case in point … and I quote:
cantwell art ex
“My paintings are the result of a ritualistic process. This process includes a series of combative encounters between the artist, the subject and the canvas; where the mood of the artist, degree of vagueness of the subject, and chance of the materials, can create an infinite number of outcomes. […]   The movements of direction and perspective, in my paintings, act in a distortion of harmonious interactions and playful moments. The work presents a oneness of almost congested thickness, hints of depths, and constant shifting of weight. There is a musical aspect in the way things repeat, move forward, move in reverse, mutating and pushing matter as the flow pleases. The matter is usually suggested towards the natural world in the form of weathering landscapes, atmospheric energies or systems. Some present time and change within a geological melody.”     –Jordan Cantwell’s artist statement
What did he say?
Jordan Cantwell can’t well define his art!  I’m not sure that he can even paint!  He is a Pollock who has advanced to kindergarten, inasmuch as he intends to paint something by himself.  Contrary to traditional rules of landscape painting (not  yet learned in kindergarten), here he paints the sun into his skies, red and furry.  It shines down on vague city structures that seem to be coming and going in various stages of “tipsy.” They hover over flowing pieces of blue emanating from the city like over-crowded freeways, eventually intermingling haphazardly and spreading out into a vast blue “ocean” on which sails a tiny red boat like the home-made one my kids used to play with in the bathtub. In the final observation, the sun is the only part of this work that I find “good.”  Within his [quote] “combative encounters between the subject, the artist and the canvas” the artist appears to have lost the fight.                    —-My critique
Even if you don’t agree, indulge me here. It’s my blog, so I say what I think.  In the world of modernism the process of creating art often seems to be synonymous with “it doesn’t matter.”  Yet, I think “it matters.”  One earns the name “artist”  through exceptional skill and creativity, and by managing and improving on these over time – not by letting the paintbrush go where it will, as if it were doing the thinking and not the artist.
Among contemporary artists today, there are two who have earned my respect because their work epitomizes the word “fine” in fine art:   Lorena Kloosterboer paints trompe l’oeil and realistic art with a skill and aestheticism that few others can equate!
 Lorena K art ex
Artist’s statement:This trompe l’oeil depicts a small niche holding an array of translucent glass bottles & jars.  
The niche symbolizes a safe haven which holds the spirit of divinity. Glass objects, due to their transparency, represent an inner plane. They reflect purity, spiritual perfection & knowledge. The niche & the jars embrace all the essential traits we seek in life.
“Clarity No. 2” Acrylic on Canvas, 15 ¾ x 12 inches
Keiko Tanabe is a master water-colorist who gives new meaning to mastering watercolor.  Her work is magnificent. I wish for all the world that I could render a watercolor painting with as much beauty and sensitivity as she does.  She has the ability to change every day ordinary landscapes, that we rarely “see” as we go about our daily activities,  into works of beauty.  I mean, who ever thought that cars on the freeway or telephone lines dangling askew were art-worthy!  This is one artist who is changing the world through the magic of her paintbrush.
Keiko SCal freeway view
 

 

Pine Trees for Curtains and a “lion”on the Fridge

The man on the phone was telling me: “A woman living alone in the mountains? I would never rent to you. These mountain people would eat you alive!” My first thought:  Isn’t proving that “you can” when they say “you can’t” a true test of character? I moved to the mountains.

Half an hour East of Redding, California, is the mountain town of Oak Run where my youngest son and I lived for a few years. The population of Oak Run was, for the most part, a mixture of friendly hard-working nature lovers who commuted to work in town each day, and drug pushers with their entourage of seamy friends who lived somewhere “back in the woods.” My wish to move from town to the mountains was two-fold: I hoped to provide my son a healthful home anchor during his increasingly infrequent stays at home, and my long-standing love affair with Nature. No matter that the place I chose had no running water or electricity, and that the warning of one landlord was still ringing in my ears. I found a spacious cabin with a loft, two skylights, and a wood stove for heat, with large windows that looked out at nothing but pine trees, and the nearest neighbors were close enough for lasting friendships to be made, but far enough away to afford us each a private niche of our own. This place was great! The hillside that dug deeply into the valley a few yards behind the house became a favorite place for me, where I would often sit on the moss-covered rocks in the fog and breathe in the lush green solitude, listening to the wind singing through the pines and quietly reaching inward to great places that only nature can reveal in the soul.

The cold winters were kept warm by frequent trips to the wood pile to keep the stove burning. I felt like a child flying his first kite, each time I learned something new, like banking the fire each night so that the quiet embers would come to life again with a breath of air and a morning supply of logs. For water, I had acquired six 5-gallon water jugs and I would pile them in my car and drive down the road to where the locals had strung a hose out from a stream back in the woods. There I would fill my water bottles each week and heft them back into the car, occasionally helped by some unkempt, tough-looking bearded mountain guy, filling his own bottles. This respect often shown to me shed all thought of being “eaten alive” from my mind and reconfirmed my lifelong belief that there is good in everyone. Back home, I would lever the heavy bottles up the steps one by one and roll them across the deck and into the kitchen for my weekly store of water. I purchased my drinking water and used the stream water for cooking, household duties, and bathing. I heated water on the wood stove in large enamel pots, and carried them to the sink to wash dishes, or to the bathtub for my bath each morning. I would mix the boiling hot water with cold water from buckets, and ladle it over me to soap up and rinse, recalling my earlier experience of bucket bathing at the ranch house in Veracruz years before.  Practice makes perfect.

A small propane bottle with a radiating cone at the top would be lit to warm the bathroom while I showered and dressed. As for washing the car, I find it rather ironic that it was by far more doable to man the stream-fed hose down the road each week, than it is to wash my car now in the city, with street parking and no hose permission from my landlord!  That was life in a house with no running water! I did the running. I had the water.

The house had no electricity.  Again drawing on my rustic ranch experience, I hung a series of oil lamps on the walls, and lit them each night to read or work by. I had already learned how to trim the wicks so that the lamps would burn clean and not smell like kerosene. That had been our only lighting on the ranch. The lamps created a welcoming, gentle ambiance as I curled up in front of the wood stove in the evenings to read and listen to the changing moods of weather and local fauna outside. When I moved back to the city with its distracting daily obligations, this precious reading time all but disappeared.

No water, no lights. Those were familiar challenges that were bravely dealt with. What other pioneer skills I would need for this little mountain hideaway would be discovered. No electricity meant no refrigeration. I had propane for the kitchen stove so it was easy to segue to the propane refrigerator once I was introduced to this efficient technological jewel from the turn of the century. A refrigerator that runs on fire?  Unbelievable, I thought. But so it does, through the intriguing process of, not adding cold to the box, but absorbing heat from it, through a chemical process that begins with a flame – hence the propane. Ha! My refrigerator had a pilot light.  I call these “jewels” because they are not only highly efficient, they are extremely economical, and the first ones were built with the clean, sophisticated lines of 30’s style. I found one at a used appliance store and missed not a step in storing and preparing food as I moved in. This was one very “cool” refrigerator! So neat to look at, in fact, that my good friends and neighbors across the way invited me along with family and friends to paint their own gas refrigerator with an underwater theme! Art deco a la eccentric. I accomplished my first (and last) oil painting – a lion fish – on one side. This was a medium I had never used before, so my contribution was mostly one of learning as I slowly brought the fish to life, while the other artists and artist wannabe’s deftly painted orcas, schools of fish, and under-sea critters over the rest of the fridge, but I am pleased to say, my lion fish is still looking good after more than 10 years, as is the friendship of my former neighbors!

lion-fish

Why on earth would I want to live in a place that required so many difficult, time-consuming back woods skills! Where a place to live is concerned, one thing alone has always drawn me and occupied my mind through the years that I have lived in cities, only rarely realized – a home somewhere out in nature! Who needs walls if you have woods to surround you or windows if you have never-ending vistas of grass or sea to inspire the imagination! Who needs a ceiling if you have the great expanse of sky overhead, with sunlight to read by and a blanket of stars to cover you at night! I was happy in this home. When, in time, friends helped me upgrade to a generator for lights and TV, and my generous neighbors’ strung a hose across the street to pump water from their well for a few hours each week to fill my water tank, already attached to a fully-plumbed house that had never had a well to draw from, life was indeed easier, but it was never again quite as good.

The trade-off of this rustic life was the quiet that only a pine forest can give you, as anyone who has heard the wind singing through pine needles knows; the dark nights closing up the house before bedtime instead of curtains; the feeling of being “alive” that overcoming new challenges gives you; the frequent visit of a big raccoon that would come up to the glass window in the living room and sit and stare at me, the awesome silence after a snowfall when even the proverbial dropped pin can’t be heard; standing outside at midnight under falling snow, catching snowflakes on your tongue as you watch them streak toward you out of nowhere from an indigo sky; and a once in a lifetime memory that I will never forget!

It was at the time when the news was full of the anticipated arrival of the Hale-Bopp Comet over northern California and I was waiting for nightfall to see if I could get a glimpse of it. If it passed by low, I would miss it because I was surrounded by woods. The only open sky was right above the house. I stayed up late, going outside every half hour and scanning the sky to see if I could catch the comet on its path. Sleep finally got the better of me, and disappointed, I climbed the stairs to the loft and went to bed. I normally don’t wake up during the night, so I was surprised to find myself suddenly wide awake a few hours later. I turned over to stretch, opened my eyes, and there, filling the skylight above my bed from edge to edge, was Hale-Bopp in all its glory, big and bold, with its tail stretching out behind it! I laid there staring at it until it travelled out of view, transported by the moment to some magical place beyond the earth where dreams come true! Who, or what, woke me up? My guardian angel? Those elusive wood sprites of legend? I like think it was intuition, that sensitivity to the unseen that has led me well throughout my life. It is never sharper than when it draws on nature.  Difficulties? What difficulties! I never “saw” them in my house in the woods.

 

Sibeliuskirkko

Lahti, Finland, has Sibeliustalo, Sibelius Hall, that the Lahti Symphony Orchestra calls home. There each September, a celebration of music by Finland’s national composer, Jean Sibelius, takes place, with a select venue of concerts, followed by the customary visits to his birthplace, home and points of importance in his life by those who make the trip to Lahti. In this commemorative year, Finland, and the world at large, celebrates the 150th anniversary of Jean Sibelius’ birth. Lahti was to see not the usual long weekend of concerts, but an entire week! All of his symphonies would be performed and a large selection of his most significant works, plus daily recitals and chamber works! It was an event that no one devoted to the life and music of Sibelius could miss. But I did! Finland is a long way off for me, so when we got news of a concert commemorating the 150th anniversary year of our beloved composer right here in San Diego, a dear friend and I, fellow devotees of the finer arts where Sibelius holds a particular place of honor, were excited.

les trois apres concert
Russamari Teppo, great great granddaughter of Jean Sibelius, with Erik Homenick and the author.

The flyer said “Sibelius Concert Service,” to be held at a local Lutheran Church. Of particular note was that one of the artists to perform was great great granddaughter of Sibelius, Ruusamari Teppo, an accomplished concert pianist. The word “service,” gave me hesitation: was I going to hear a concert or going to a religious service? The latter was not what I wished to attend. I spoke to my friend of my doubts as to what this concert-service involved, but he could not fathom the idea that I would miss the event honoring Sibelius, and particularly the opportunity to meet Mrs. Teppo, the closest to Sibelius “in person” we may ever come! He kept saying: “This will be our very own 150th anniversary celebration. Unthinkable to miss it!” I couldn’t resist the import of the argument or the forlorn look in his eyes as he considered the possibility that I might miss this event celebrating the master composer for whom we shared such a great love. I would go!

As we arrived among the gathering guests in the foyer, we were immediately engulfed in the arms of a Finnish friend who was instrumental in organizing the concert. She broke through the gathering guests, opened her chiffon draped arms like a mother swan gathering in her brood, and swept us both up together in a warm Finnish welcoming hug. I felt as if I had just been transported to Finland and from there on, everything had to go well. And so it did. The next couple of hours were full of music, but we were in church all right  -Sibeliuskirkko!  With the music of Sibelius, it is easy to touch the eternal.

There were a couple of spiritual songs in Finnish, sung by the small, but excellent choir, and one sing-along. The rest of the evening was pure Sibelius. Performing were, Ruusamari Teppo, piano, Jussi Makkonen, cello, Jari Suomalainen, violin, and Irene Marie Patton, vocal. The program was a full evening of delight, one work after another worthy of the Lahti concert venue, and the musicians could not have played more beautifully!

The evening’s program: Kuusi, Impromptu, Souvenir, Trio in A minor for piano, violin and cello, “Havträsk(unpublished, 1886), The Tempest: (Jussi Jalas arrangement, unpublished), Arioso, Masurkka, Valse Triste, and of course ….Finlandia!

Each work was an intimate visit with our beloved Sibelius, but the two that touched me most deeply were Valse Triste, and Finlandia, both played exquisitely by Jussi and Ruusamari. Valse Triste, so often heard before, found me unexpectedly a captive of the deeper thoughts that Sibelius’ life and music have so often inspired in me, and I sat motionless, alone with my thoughts, not wanting the moment to end.

But as the best things in life are often fleeting, as if to confirm their definition of extraordinary, the concert must end. But Sibelius, master of the “final note,” had one last grand statement to make. Finishing the program in the honored tradition of Sibelius concerts with the work so much a part of the Finnish soul, here was the great great granddaughter of Sibelius playing his Finlandia with passion and sensitivity,. This was no less than an historic moment! The acute disappointment that I had been feeling for months at being unable to attend the Lahti Festival, or meeting Jean Sibelius on his home ground, were no longer relevant. Like the good friend that he has always been, here was Sibelius come to us!

The Hidden Years

As I look back at my childhood, I can see now that I was living a life that was in large part passive. Most of my growing up was going on “inside”. I can recall few distinct memories of when I was actually, aggressively pursuing anything other than playing with my neighborhood friends and watching the world go by. Thinking? – yes. Acutely aware of all that was going on around me? – not a doubt. But actively, purposefully controlling my daily activities – no.

Mom loved me a little too much. and as a result, she was overly controlling where I was concerned. This certainly contributed in part to my passive nature then. Can we debate whether one can really “love too much?” Love is expressed in many ways, but some are healthier than others. When love says: “this is mine and I love it to death, that is exactly what happens” – The object of this love dies. Too much water and sun can kill a growing plant. If this plant did not die, it was because a greater power was already at work and had the situation well in hand.  And I think I sensed even then that I was not to lead, but to follow….that Someone Greater would lead my life. And that was good.

I didn’t talk much. I listened. For this, I must give thanks to my mother, who talked a lot. She had so much to say and it was so interesting, that I had no reason to say much as a child. People said I was too shy, hinted that I might even be “backward”. They said I shouldn’t hide behind the couch when family and friends gathered to talk in the living room. I wasn’t hiding. I was observing the comedy of life at its richest. I would lay back there on the floor with my pillow, nice and comfy, and listen to every word that was being said, undisturbed, and fascinated! I was enjoying it too much to come out and be a part of what was already becoming apparent to me: It’s wiser to speak little and listen much. That’s where I learned the most. They didn’t understand that this was my strength, not my weakness. The truth is that those were some of my wisest years as a child. I was acutely aware of all that was going on, and learning.

I was not afraid to interact socially. It never occurred to me that it was necessary to make special efforts to that end. My world was complete. This “only girl” in the family received more loving affection from Mom’s large traditional French family of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, second and third cousins, and all their friends, in the first years of my life than some people receive in a lifetime. Daddy had no family: he had been an orphan, but I was “his little sunflower” and his love alone was a worthy match for my mother’s family’s. That’s a source of security. I heard so many fascinating stories over the dinner table and at family gatherings that my mind was full of things to think about. I watched attentively as those around me went through the usual and the unexpected joys and pitfalls of life, dealing with each one in turn. I didn’t have to make decisions about what to wear, how to comb my hair, what time to get up and go to bed, when to eat. Mom did that. Amazingly, I never perceived my mother’s control as a problem. It only became so when I grew up and Mom’s strong spirit would reach beyond the limits allowed. Never was it a problem for the child. Others did the necessary daily chores of raising me. Where I was able to roam at will was within. That was when I learned that no one can touch you, harm you, control you “inside”. That’s the one place over which we have sole proprietorship. Many will argue this fact, but it’s the truth: the actions of others can only really affect us if we let them

This was a big lesson for a small child to learn. If I appeared all too passive on the outside, an activity of a grander nature was nevertheless continuously going on inside. I quietly observed the active pursuits of everyone else, and learned from their mistakes, from their occasional petty or hurtful words, from the consequences of their unfortunate decisions, from their good actions that ended in happy results. By the time I was nine, I had learned much about what to do and what not to do in order to live life well.

Why I write the book – My Memoirs

The Circle is Drawn They called me the “Blitz Krieg” baby. At 7:30 in the evening, Mom and Dad were enjoying a night out at the movies, with a week to go before the anticipated blessed event. At 8:00 PM, Mom and Dad were at the hospital, and the “blessing” was about to arrive. I was not officially due yet and no one was ready for me. However incredible it may seem, a nurse was frantically trying to hold me in until the doctor arrived. Hospital rules “did not allow a baby to be born without the doctor present.” The laws of Nature were not considered. Apparently the doctor and I arrived at the same time. I have a picture in my mind of a fast scrub, a quick entrance, and a marvelous catch just as the ball…er, baby, was passed straight into the hands of the star “quarterback”. A touchdown at this point would have been anticlimatic. I’ve never been a fan of football. I wasn’t paying attention. But Dad was. He had refused to leave Mom’s side for the birth, made a scene when they told him he was not allowed in the operating room, and the nurses finally gave up and made him scrub and gown up. I arrived, the doctor exclaimed to all present that “here’s a fine pair of football shoulders”, then quickly corrected himself: “No, these shoulders won’t play football.” My dad let out a whoop, and that’s the last Mom saw of him until the following afternoon. The story goes that my Dad made some kind of marvelous spectacle of himself upon learning that “it was a girl”. I was born into a large extended family of eighteen cousins and two siblings – all boys! Mom had a bit of a rough time – not surprising when you think of the persistent efforts of that nurse to go against long-established norms of nature. It wasn’t until a few days later that Mom and I left together accompanied by one very proud, smiling father. On the way out, as Mom told it later, one nurse after another went up to her, with eyes rolling, and said excitedly: “You should have seen your husband when the baby was born! We’ve never seen anyone do that before!” Mom’s inquiries as to the exact nature of what Daddy did that day went no where. No one would tell her. Shaking their heads and laughing, they just kept repeating: “You should have seen what your husband did!” And so I was born. ~~~ The Old Testament speaks of “types” – occurrences that precede and testify to the important events of the New Testament. You might say that they complete the circle. For those with an insight into life’s mysteries, these types are taken quite seriously and serve as wonderful prophesies of future events, only truly understood once the events have occured. I can’t help thinking that the year of my birth, and the beginning events of my existence, were types of where my life was to lead me and how it may one day end. I was born in 1941, the year of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the United States’ entry into World War II. The Germans were making rapid, un-anticipated bombing attacks on England at that time that were known as “blitz kriegs”. My insistence upon arriving unexpected and quickly into this world earned me that first title. I have no doubt that there was an agenda in place and it had to be met sooner than later. The type was set. It would be up to me to discover it one day. My first conscious memory is of a warm summer night, dark curtains moving softly in the breeze from the open window over my crib – and the sudden, terrible ululating sound of air-raid sirens. Mom says I couldn’t possibly remember: I was only a few months old! But I do. The memory is so clear to me that I can recall everything about it sixty-seven years later. And what I remember most is my world changing in an instant from a peaceful and secure state, with the sweet cooling breeze lulling me to sleep – to one of absolute, soul-shaking fear! Of course I didn’t know what those wailing noises were or meant, but I knew beyond a shadow of doubt what they represented. I have known such fear only a few times in my life and it was unmistakably the fear of Evil! I believe that when we are born, we are “whole”. The spirit that gives us life is already formed and if the child is limited in his or her abilities to interact with others, the intellect* is nevertheless as habile as it ever will be – perhaps even more so. By the very fact that we are unhindered by the as yet un-learned management of our physical world, we may be even more aware of the spiritual. California was in blackout and sirens were wailing to warn of possible attacks from Japanese war planes, which had already approached our coast. My parents had turned off the lights, pulled dark curtains across the windows and were probably reading stories to my brothers by candlelight to keep some semblance of calm, while fear lurked outside. Mom and Dad were attending to the necessary practical matters warranted by the occasion. My brothers, in the arms of my parents, were perhaps oblivious to danger. I can understand my parents being less concerned about me. Noise was noise, and I had been quite happy up until then to sleep or babble my way happily though all the noises of my surroundings, however loud or unexpected. And besides, what could a baby know about current events. My older brothers, on the other hand, perhaps sensing my parents concern, would need to be reassured. But I was the only one who sensed the nature of what really happening. This was my second “type”. I was, in effect, holding down the fort for my whole family, carrying a spiritual load full of comprehension of things eternal, to which I was still wide open. This tiny baby who had been created “in the spirit” of peace and light, and had known nothing but love from all who had come to welcome me, in one brief moment had perceived the face of Evil. I wonder if anyone can look the devil in the face and not be shaken to the core. We are of course speaking here of what the eyes cannot see. The connection between that event and my present direction in life makes it clear now that the type was set for my place in this world. I have lived more than one lifetime since then and have come nearly full circle to that blessed comprehension of things eternal, shedding, one by one, the material shackles by which I became bound over the years to the world, in the name of “practicality”. I could say here that this is my story. But that’s not entirely true. The story belongs to Another, and I am going to tell it. * To clarify the exact nature of “intellect” – Most of us have come to define it in terms of our “intellectual”, or mental capabilities. In reality, it refers to the highest part of our spiritual nature and is much more difficult to define, as it proceeds from the Creator, whose “reality” is of a higher nature, beyond our limited comprehension.

Say that again?

Let’s face it – English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren’t invented in England or French fries in France .. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat. We take English for granted But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices? Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out, and in which an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

And why doesn’t “Buick” rhyme with “quick”   

Blogger Note: The English language has enough  pitfalls for anyone learning it, that it is amazing anyone does.  My hat’s off to the immigrants who come to the U.S. knowing no English and in rather short order, become better at it than many of those who are born here.