He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how. – Nietzsche
My earliest memory is lying on my back in my baby crib, with no separation between my self and the world. Attracted by the three primary colors of red, yellow and blue, I wordlessly watched the gently swaying bird mobile above me. Although I could not stand, part of me rose upwards towards the colorful birds dancing on the early morning sunbeams drifting through the window at my feet. That primal scene forged my everlasting soul magnet. My soul magnet has three poles: Nature, Art, and Spirit. These have, inspired, comforted and guided me through many worlds. My soul steers by balancing these three, irresistible forces. Nowhere is that truer than when I wander along the edge of the continent immersed in the elemental dynamism of land (nature/body), sea (art/mind), and air (spirit/divine). From these, my soul magnet unites with the Oneness of it all.
The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature. – Joseph Campbell
Some of my earliest memories center around playing outside in our yard. I was fascinated by ants, and still am. They were always busily scrambling to and fro and went back home as darkness approached, just as I did. For me the world of our fenced in yard was built around the five natural elements of – wood, earth, water, fire and metal. Years later I learned about the Chinese concept of wuxing – the same five elemental cosmic agents for change. If I wasn’t climbing the sassafras tree I would be playing in the dirt or our sandbox. Nature was always welcoming. Nature provided raw materials and a source of inspiration. To this day, my heartbeat matches the cosmic beats of nature. Art flows from this natural synergy.
Art is not what you see, but what you make others see. – Edgar Degas
My artistic passion was born from many sources. My beloved grandfather – Buddy, was always whittling. I treasure the little carving he gave me. As a mechanic my Pop rebuilt and fixed things. His collection of dozens of tools in the garage was a source of great curiosity for me. But before World War Two transformed him, he was a sensitive artist at heart. Years later, he began expressing that side of his spirit again. My mother more than anyone inspired my art. Her praise was all I needed to keep improving. I gave her my very first large acrylic painting. She made me sign it, saying, “An artist always signs his work.” I discover art everywhere from crimson sunsets to gleaming machine parts. Art animates my soul with wonder.
Humans are amphibians…half spirit and half animal…as spirits they belong to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time… – C.S. Lewis
I used to love pinball as a kid. I learned to play on an old machine at the quarter mile dirt racetrack near my home. My Pop and Uncle Sam used to race motorcycles there. My uncle held the track speed record for years. My Aunt Alice worked the concession stand for decades. There was a potent allure to the dingy world around that hard-packed-dirt oval. The smell of stale cigarettes, beer and orange Nehi, infused with acrid gasoline and pungent nitro floated on the dusty air like an amber, narcotic haze. Pop would give me four quarters to keep me busy while he and his old motorcycle buddies smoked the Camel and Lucky Strike cigarettes rolled up in the sleeves of their t-shirts. While they relived the war and past glories, I played pinball. One game – five balls – was a nickel. The score only went up to 9,999, and certain combinations were rewarded with free games. I sucked at first, feeling the pressure of the occasional lurker and passerby watching over my shoulder. I would always save a quarter for a frozen Zero candy bar as a reward. But with practice, I learned to play the game artfully and could play for an hour on a single quarter. There were times when in the zone, I felt an unseen hand seemingly moving the ball in the direction I needed it to go. The “TWACK” of a free game racking up was like a shout of Hallelujah. There, beneath the rusty bleachers, next to the ramshackle concession stand, I felt my soul magnet inexplicably connect to a far greater world.
The worlds around us abound with innate, imaginative spirits. With maturity, my soul magnet attracts more positive spirits now and repels negativity for the most part. When I feel my spirit is depleted, I take a walk in nature. Peacefully wandering, as if through an infinitely changing art gallery, shades and shadows, seafoam and seaweed, gnarled driftwood and smooth beachstones push and pull my imagination in a thousand directions. All the while, the rhythm of waves, whoosh of wings, whisper of winds quieten my spirit and summon the muse. My soul magnet urges me towards home. I return – renewed in body, mind and spirit.