Tag Archives: Leunig

Meeting the Moment 2021 #32

We are having a wet winter, in this place which is the driest state on the driest continent. There are early signs of spring and a blossoming almond tree in the front garden of a house down the street was home to a very noisy mob of yellow tail black cockatoos during in the week. Snails and caterpillars are feasting on some of the brassica in the winter harvest square, and I am so pleased to have creatures and bugs munching and sharing the produce with me. I picked the cauliflower yesterday and made cauliflower soup for my dinner. It is so satisfying to eat the homegrown vegetables and even more enjoyable to share with others. I have set up some new garden beds, had more soil delivered and began a mini nursery to get seedlings established early for spring planting. Living more seasonally is beginning to take shape.

We are also in the season of the SALA Festival – SA living artists – and there are plenty who are well and truly alive with their insights and interpretations of our landscape, the faces and shapes and scenes. Through the eyes and talents of the artist we all get a little more expansive in what we can see and feel and perhaps even be transformed or transfixed by an image to take us to a new idea, new emotion or tap into an old memory. I was caught between happy and sad memories in a gallery this week, of places much longed for and missed, places which had been the source of great joy and now hold dark thoughts attached to new knowledge. Art is evocative.

I love the whimsy that a Michael Leunig cartoon holds as it rips into your heart strings and the solid majesty of ancient gums in a Hans Heysen. The twinkling stars and luminous moon in a Van Gogh draws me closer to cosmic mystery, while the gentle wet and wintry haunting headlights in Clarice Beckett’s Motor Lights instantly has me in Melbourne.

My walls have art from the desert and the coast – dot paintings on canvas, paintings on bark and pieces of iron. I have had to learn about this art even though it is from the land I live on, unlike the art of settler stock or European masters. I have a lot to still learn. Like the cauliflower in the garden, these images are now ripe for the picking as I am more ready to learn and understand how to go towards them. Being in the landscapes in which they were created really brings them to life for me, in much the same way as the SALA exhibitions do – familiar places and colours.  Another seasonal gift to be out in these landscapes.

The caterpillar transforms into a butterfly, is a familiar motif for these seasonal changes, and in each caterpillar everything the next season needs is already in the last. Integrating seems to be the message of meeting the moment this week. To bring together with integrity what is being held from one season to the next whether it be in the garden, on the walls, or in the complement of memories. I had a fulsome conversation about integrity and perhaps that is the essence of great art; it is honest, wholesome, sound, it passes our probity test. And that is what moves us and holds us.

The humble cauliflower’s uncompromising integrity at being its best cauliflower self, as an art installation in my winter garden, was transformational.

Before it was soup

Year of Self Compassion #48 #spaciousness

In recent travels I caught a few trains and noticed all the transit staff were smiling, they welcomed you in and out of the border crossings between the suburbs and the city.  They seemed to be content, even joyful.  The contrast to my usual experience where I find their peers in my usual transport system auditioning for the Gestapo.  They weren’t orphans there was generally an ease and light touch in all my encounters with people who were serving as guardians of passage, brokering moments to part with money, or to guide you to the right place. It is a bigger  city than mine and still spaciousness appeared alongside the hustle and hustlers, bustle and bustlers. I am curious about a culture that reflects spaciousness amongst the high-rise and high density living.

Spaciousness on the inside and its opposite, feeling so cramped you can hardly breathe. The long exhale and the deep breath inhale, to give your lungs a chance to expand, then to empty and expand again. Each breath an invitation to spaciousness. This is the kind of de-cluttering that understands stuff has to leave, before space can arrive. I have emptied myself of so many things this past year and reduced my footprint and yet there is still more to go. By living with less I am not less and this is one of the lessons I have had to learn. I came reluctantly and wounded to find space by living with less. I came broken and bruised to make a space that could be wide open. But it on the inside, like the Tardis, where it is bigger on the inside, the outside does not define what really goes on inside for any of us.  The space we make for inner selves, the space we make for not knowing – these are the clean benches, an empty rail in the wardrobe of our mind.  I am prone to an addiction of filling up those spaces in my mind with memories, haunting unhelpful, repetitive thoughts and then in breathing out, fill them again with news, ideas, hopes and longings.  That in-between moment of breathe in and out, when caught, is the silent steady still spaciousness of nothingness. It is the smile of the transit officer at Brisbane Central Station, the custodian at the gate between one world and another, quietly checking my ticket enabling safe passage from a carriage to a world full of possibilities. My only task is to turn up, to breathe and let the space before empty and the space after fill, again and again, and to remember that each time a little more is expelled and a little more space is inhaled.

Getting familiar with how to make the space in the first place, and then learning to inhabit it with all the feelings that come with being in space seems to be an invitation to being both comfortable and uncomfortable at the same time. The paradox of belonging and not belonging builds an acceptance of uncertainty. This is the kind of uncertainty the impermanence of everything brings alongside the familiarity of the everyday rhythms.  The truth is each moment comes and each moment goes and however hard we try to hold onto them it makes no difference whatsoever, the moment, like the breath, will come and then go. We are always stepping into the unknown, with each and every breath. This is a hard lesson to learn. Where we feel filled up and bursting at the seams is perhaps an invitation to look into that fullness and see what might need to be cleared, what space might need to be made.

I have spent so many hours this past year in particular having little space where it looks like I might have enough. Hours and hours have been filled with grief and confusion, deep, deep sadness of betrayals and hurts from beyond the grave, from lives disappearing and hurting close at hand, from the aches and pains of physical truths of ageing and disease. There have been moments of such fullness that emptiness arrives like a stone in the stomach. And emptiness unsuccessfully masquerades as spaciousness. It is not spaciousness.

An act of self-compassion is to recognise that emptiness is not spaciousness. Spaciousness arrives when you make the space, when you get rid of things that no longer serve you and where you revel and roll around in the empty and are not consumed by its false offering of fullness.  The space makes a path made by breathing out and making space. Perhaps holding on is the same as holding your breath?

letitgo

Let it Go – Michael Leunig