I was lying face down on a dock this morning, peering through the space between two weathered gray boards. Water rippled beneath me and I could see the sepia colored sandy lake bottom. A momma merganser and her flock strolled on the nearby beach.
I'd arrived in northern Minnesota two days before to celebrate my in-law's 60 wedding anniversary. I'd worked up to the time of my flight, trying to bring closure to my upcoming exhibit, "Striking A Balance".
Before I left, I went over to my artist friend Linda's house with several collages. "Are you crazy?" my sister Amelia said to me. You're leaving tomorrow and you've got to focus!" I pleaded temporary insanity and thought about the need for a good visual editor.
Over the years, I've developed a healthy respect for a judicious critic before a show; someone who loves your work and can tell you the truth about what's missing. It's a means of seeking balance, because in the process of exploring a new direction its easy to lose your way. I also wondered if I could use Linda's suggestions to tweak my own inner balance and find my way back to the center.
Linda took one look at the rice paper covered panels I'd made for mounting my collages and prescribed multiple, multicolored glazes. I mixed the washes and began brushing on layers of deep yellow, olive and sepia. After several hours, I was about to leave when Linda pointed to the collages I'd brought and stated definitively: "That one's finished, that one's finished, but that one's not."
Four hours and 10 matte medium covered fingers later, I emerged, satisfied with what I'd acheived.
I plopped down on my bed and riffled through "Sacred Therapy," a book I'm reading, and found this passage:
Healing into our wholeness involves learning how to gracefully navigate our lives between these opposite poles of yesh and ayin, form and emptiness.
Intuitively, those words sounded right at the time, but they didn't really make sense to me until today, on the dock. Stripped of my "doingness" in the studio, I'd discovered ayin, or emptiness, right here in the space between the weathered boards on the dock.