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A trail of bread crumbs

Sharing another quotation today, one that rings deeply true for me:

Life’s splendor comes not from what it gives but what it promises.” (Teresa de la Parra, Mama Blanca’s Memoirs)

Although I know (or think, rather) that blogs aren’t supposed to be read chronologically, or don’t need to be, since this is all new to me, I still think I would like to “start” with saying how I think I might use this experiment.

The easiest way to do that, I think, is to share my favorite painting: Salvador Dali’s La Muchacha en La Ventana. Why is this my favorite painting? Two reasons.

First, because it captures so perfectly and simply my love affair with potential, with What-Might-Be… with the future and what life promises. This was one of Dali’s earliest paintings, when he was barely older than a teenager himself, just beginning to find himself as a painter – and the image itself to me just exudes that fundamental seeking and exploration. Five years ago, I wrote this about this painting…

In this image I see a young woman who is at the same time old. She crosses her ankles almost coquettishly, but her body is thick and exudes a solid, weary calm as she leans against the window sill. She has been working hard, and she will soon pick up her cleaning rag to return to the daily tasks from which she has temporarily escaped. But for this fleeting moment, she is spellbound by the breathtaking view of the possible. This single window, thrown wide open to the breezes which are rippling through the curtains, offers her a flash of illumination, a shining glimpse into the vast world beyond her room. The landscape across the water is nearly untouched, but it will not remain that way for long ― already meandering walls have been built, and someone is about to embark on shore. The young woman feels an ardent yearning, a mighty inchoate desire to be part of what will one day be created on that land. What will it be, and will it be meaningful?

Second, because of the window, the strong frame, through which the young woman is gazing. I kept this painting on my wall during college as a reminder to always push myself to question premises and learn new frameworks, different viewpoints from which to see the world.

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When I was a child, I would often spent hours and hours in silent contemplation, awash in a vague sense of possibility and curiosity, but unable to formulate anything but the haziest of daydreams. As I have grown older, many years of education have proffered forth numerous suggested tools and frameworks for sharpening that nebulous reflective impulse. I have found some of these helpful, others I am more skeptical of, and still others have surely deeply shaped the way I see things without my even noticing. But one thing is for sure, and that is that I have not found any single way of viewing the world in all its complexity to be completely satisfying. I certainly don’t feel satiated and done, don’t feel full, am still collecting and seeking… and probably always will be.

@ceonyc said to me, when I explained why I love La Muchacha en La Ventana: “The key is at what point the girl turns around, looks back at her room and says, ‘Ok, now time to paint this thing the color I want it.’”

I wholeheartedly accept that challenge – the challenge to DO something with all of the education and experience that I have been so blessed to have — I have always held that as a core life goal. But for me, I think, this will happen over time, will unfold a bit slowly, not right away. I firmly believe that different people can have different ways of “painting their room,” so to speak, different ways of coming to something that is “theirs,” and I’m definitely a slow-cooking stew. And I deeply relish the process of the learning and seeking — it is what fuels me and make me feel most acutely, fiercely, tinglingly alive. Once again, someone else said it better:

“I would like to beg you, dear Sir, as well as I can… to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.” (Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet, Letter Four)

So there you have it…

This blogging experiment, for me, will start, at least, as the exploration of questions. NOT answers, NOT advice, NOT judgments, NOT expertise. Merely, merely a partial, occasional record of my own meandering personal exploration of questions and ideas as I go along… the trail of bread crumbs of a seeker, I guess you might call it. :)

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