Art has Two Constants

He realized more vividly than ever before, that art had two constants, two unending preoccupations: it is always meditating on death and it is always thereby creating life. –Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago

The spark of life within us glimmers and shines, and occasionally adversity or blessing fans the spark into a bonfire. That animated nucleus propels my curiosity as I calmly wander. Tidal forces arrange tableaux of life and death along the watery edge of our human habitat. Meditating upon these scenes drives my devotion to positivity.

Yesterday I encountered the broken body of this heroic little bird. Its body was arranged as if reaching one last time to regain the air and take flight. Meditating on its frozen repose I felt its deep yearning for survival. There comes a final moment for us all when the spark leaves us and is recast into transcendence. Bless this little bird.

The shape of this marvelous piece of crimson-stained wood caught my eye. Its altar-like form reminded me of religious objects I have seen in various temples and holy places. A nimbus of sacrifice and devotion radiated from it. Studying the color closely I recalled the red ocher hand prints I had seen decorating yellow temple walls, caves and sacred places. I once visited a Zen temple on a mountain in China. On the mountain there were tremendous ancient redwoods and giant ginkgo trees. As I was taking photographs of those towering guardians rising up from the mist, I turned and saw the outside temple wall had been adorned with dozens of red ocher handprints. The contrast between the two images sent an electric current up my spine, a faint echo of which returned upon seeing this piece.

I was very surprised to encounter this starfish. It is the first one I have seen on my local beach. Studying the scene it looked as though it was reaching for the length of plastic rope in its final death-throws. As I was looking closely at the arraignment of its appendages, I thought it looked posed in frozen movement, like the game of “freeze tag” I played as a kid. Something told me to pick it up and when I did, several of its tube feet underneath flexed ever so slightly. It was still alive. I rushed down the beach like an ambulance. Careful to release the nearly dead creature away from the wandering seagulls, I watched as it drifted back into the ocean, perhaps it will resuscitate or its weakened spark will be recycled. I turned around, towards home, and the counterbalance of life and death inspired me throughout the day.

Published by everythingisbeachy

Read my books at: amazon.com/author/wheelerce Wheeler was a monthly magazine and weekly newspaper editor during the time he lived in China from 2007-2019. In China he worked for: Education Ministry, Tourism Ministry and Propaganda Ministry. In addition to his magazine and newspaper work, Wheeler edited and contributed to: multiple travel guides; numerous textbooks; several research and translation projects; and advertising copy for countless clients. As a university lecturer, Wheeler developed several university courses including Appreciation of Western Poetry and Introduction to Journalism. He taught Writing, Literature, Culture, Film, and other subjects. His success as a foreign teacher and editor led to Wheeler being awarded Teacher of the Year honors several times at two major universities. In addition to writing, Wheeler was an actor in China. He was on a television show; and the voice for Hangzhou Tourism as well as acting on stage. Wheeler's most unusual role was being the spokesman for a wallpaper adhesive company.

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