It is a blustery, late Autumn morning in Maine. The sun is brightening the dimming leaves that linger, the towering Pine centered in our backyard is bending ever-so-slightly with the force of the wind, white caps dot this normally tranquil cove of the bay. I’m sitting on our stripy, green love seat—legs propped up with a pillow—likely for the very last time. To my right is a floral couch with a dingy hue—once vibrant and cream in color. I had planned to take a photo of my two boys seated there early this morning. I had envisioned them next to one-another, arm-in-arm. It slipped my mind though amidst the gathering of various backpacks and rain pants, lunches and mittens. There is so much to be heartbroken about in the world in these days and yet, here I sit feeling nostalgic and watery-eyed about the departure of a couple of worn out couches. I can’t help but think of the babies nursed and napped here, the crumbs spilled with abandon, the forts constructed and torn down, and oh, of the fearless climbing and jumping that can only be demonstrated by the adventure gene yet to be stamped out by time and trial. I sit here remembering it all—my senses flooded—awaiting a truck that will ship out these time capsules of days gone by and later usher in the blank canvases of tomorrow.
I have been thinking about the work of the artist Andy Goldsworthy. He is well known for his ephemeral sculptures made from elements of nature and new to me. I saw the documentary, “Rivers and Tides” a few weeks ago which highlights his exploration of time within the context of nature. He builds sculptures on seashores from stone, only to witness them disappearing with the tide. His fingers are raw as he molds together bits of ice into a fluid design, alone in a cold and faraway place. A red rock becomes a powdery splash of color in a remote stream. I am drawn to the fleeting nature of this type of work in my own life as an artist because of its paradoxical power to ground me. I am drawn to the fleeting nature of this work because of my own deep realization of the ephemeral nature of life itself. A friend and I shared in the power of one particular scene from the documentary. Andy is building a suspended, stick sculpture in a solitary field. The sculpture is slowly coming to life—stick by stick, moment by moment—a circle forming in the center. I could almost sense it before it happened. There was a little cracking sound and then everything—all of these fragile little sticks—started to collapse, almost in slow motion. And then it all just became more rapidly broken. All of the many hours of work came tumbling down in just a few brief moments. Andy—the artist, the human. His head hung down slightly and he took a very deep breath and just then as we observed him, he came to a place of acceptance before our eyes. His head moved in a slight back-and-forth direction now. With each breath he let go more. Over and over, taking in only his postures and his breathing, he revealed the deepest aspect of his work—the deepest aspect of all of our work—as we witnessed him coming to the place of allowing what is.