13 November 2008

here's to art, which gives us perspective and reminds us how to live.

It occured to me tonight as I was coming home that my bike rides are different than they used to be. Whereas before they were tranquil, slow, with my thoughts kind of flittering about my mind, completely unconcious of body, they have become effecient, fast, quads pushing down hard, shoulders tight, pulling myself up the hill, sentences moving through my head with equal, pounding force forming precis, sanding off the grit of concepts to reach the door of my building with a smooth sentence worth putting down on a notecard for later use.

I noticed this only after a pronounced juxtoposition just minutes earlier. I had gone down to the Utah Museum of Fine Arts for a lecture-- a lecture about the history of libraries-- a lecture that though interesting and engaging but at the same time, embodied the hues of graduate school-- black, gray, cream, white-- words a page (literally, talking about the history of books as well), words in the air, expressions of concepts and insights and interpretations. It was nice then, after the talk, after the reception, to wander off alone into the gallery.

While I liked the works of Shauna Cook Clinger, I was struck by an exhibit of 1960s paintings-- bright, vibrant colors, punchy, in your face, a black circle on a yellow square, a bevy of acrylic colors arranged in perfectly straight lines, So that what you see in the painting is what it is, the painting has no life outside itself, the descriptive card said, or something to that effect. It was like being in a tunnel and suddenly reaching a window. A moment of clarity. A moment of feeling something. A moment of being outside of my self-- outside the realm of my satisfying yet lonely, absorbing life-- and having no life but that sensory one of experiencing the painting. It was revitalizing, exhilerating, and sad all at once-- the joy of existance and being fused with the unaknowledged exhaustion from the consuming scholarly habits of a life of the mind.

Walking back afterwards to where I had parked my bike, before I realized that even my bike rides have changed, I allowed myself to do what I have not done lately. I left the present, the demands of writing and applying and doing, and allowed myself to enjoy what it might feel like when the work is done, when I can play with the kids and meander through foreign lands and overload my mind with superficial movies like The Terminator, to know what my path will be but to momentarily have all the work I can do done. I actually daydreamed rather than press my mind towards what I must do to meet the rapidly coming deadlines. It was marvelous.

I am resolving to reclaim my time on the ODT as something peaceful and restive, to be my little window in my daily tunnel.


Queen Mum said...

Really important to take time out and have a little bit for yourself. Nicely put.

big brother said...

Good on ya. The Monkey Bus helps me reclaim that carefree feeling that I lost sight of from time to time when bike commuting. Night rides on nearly any bicycle do the same thing. Peaceful and restive. (Mum - Go ride your bike!)