“I sketch the best when the conditions are just a little uncomfortable.” Salvador Dali
I saw this picture and quote a few days ago and liked it but noticed that it really stuck with me. We strive for comfort and security - it's natural, but regardless, life is constantly throwing us curveballs and making things challenging. Perhaps the best approach is not to fight it but to use it. Mr D reckons so. In fact, it appears, he seeks out the uncomfortable. Myself, I am not going to do that - cause I get plenty for free all the time (discomfort - physical and mental), so I will continue to savour any down time (sleeping, napping, escaping in a book, with a song or walking on the beach) but seeing this picture and quote have changed my mind about the uncomfortable times. Rather than curse them, I am going to use them. Let's see if it works!
I was walking along Brunswick Heads beach late this afternoon. There were not many people about as it was nearing sunset and also quite windy. The wind was heading south, giving me a push as I walked towards Byron - not with the intention of going that far - nooo!, that’s way too far (for a daily constitutional) - just heading in that southerly direction.
Beach walks; always love them. A daily thing, regardless of weather conditions. Clears the head, good for ideas, good for sorting things out, good for the lungs and other equally impressive organs. (We have many.)
Why am I sharing this? Big deal, right?! A man goes for a walk on the beach…. At least I am not taking photos of my food and posting it. Or telling you about my dreams from last night. Or lamenting about a bad break up.
But is there a point to this verbal stroll? Yes.
As I was walking back, in the last few kms, I passed a small group of teenagers ambling in the direction I had just come from with the wind at their backs, enjoying the water, the shore, the openness.
And walking past them with the strong wind resisting my advancement, I considered the metaphor between the walk there and back and life itself. The first half you have the wind behind you, momentum. On the walk back you are pushing against it. It’s not as easy.
The youngsters don’t know the difference. Not until they reach the turn around point. Then it becomes apparent.
It’s like life. Is there any point in advising them, that their return trip is not going to be as effortless, I wondered briefly. They won’t be aware. Like I wasn’t on my way downwind. I may have even shortened my journey south if I had known how up against it the journey back was going to be, comparatively.
And then I wondered; would I like to be heading downwind again. And the answers was no. Because you just have to come back again.
Like life. You move on, move forward. It becomes more challenging but you keep going. Even if you could go back - why would you? You’ve got to face what is happening where you are at when you are there.
No escape. No point in lamenting. Head down, face to the wafting opposition of nature and move forward. Where to? The next challenge. Is there any other way? No.
Like life. Just keep going.
What I would have appreciated, though, when I was in my downwind segment of my life, would have been to have realised this - what I have just said - and appreciated the comparative easiness and natural boost of youth. It’s been said before, by many. And I probably did read it more than a few times back then. But, really, you can’t fully get it until your time comes and you experience it. It’s just the way it is. Ironic. Youth is wasted on the young, was the quote I remember. Not wasted, but, you know, would've been good to have been able to save a bit for later.
Not lamenting, just observing. If you get me now, if you are on your own walk back, you’ll understand.
And if you are still in the first part of the journey, heading with the wind behind you - enjoy it! Savour it! Be free!
I love it so
When I love it all
Doesn't have to go forever
Doesn't have to be that strong
But when that feeling appears, surprises me
And comes along
Out of nowhere
I'm into it
I'm into it
I fall in love with life
Ride that ecstatic cruise
All the way to Blissville, man
Hitching, flying free
No more itching, scratching endlessly
A warmly welcomed temporary relief
From daily burdens
From sub tone grief
It could be something simple...
A winsome smile from a girl
Lounge room soccer with the kids
An induced foray into another world
Licking pavlova off my fingertips
No telling when the good vibes
Going to show
I might be in a crowd
I might be alone
No need for boasting, braggadocio
It's often an internal thing
Could be while walking along the beach
Or kayaking across some H2O
When a long term project gets completed
Or lying still and naked in that sexual afterglow
(That one's not solo)
Wholesome or cheeky
I love it when
That feeling gets flung my way
Out of nowhere
Straight into my face
I'm into it
I'm into it
Ready to blaze, to shine, shine, shine
To be amazed
Give it to me anytime
But when I love it all
I love it, love it, I want it more
Cause everything is brilliant
When I love it all
When I love it all
People sometimes comment about how busy my paintings are. I was scrolling through fb today and I saw a photo by my Japanese friend, Naoki. It's a recent shot of a street scene from Shinjuku.
This afternoon I went for a swim at Crowdy Head beach, a stop-off on my drive home to Mullumbimby from Sydney. There were five people on the beach. The rest was all sea and sky. There were no straight lines, no graphics, no complex dynamics, no visual assault on the senses. It was serenity. Nature.
Tokyo on the other hand - the place I grew up - is the opposite. It is a never ending series of visual explosions. I loved being there - riding my motorbike through the labyrinth of controlled madness, shuffling through the side streets on my way from one game centre to another... it was a wild ride. One that lasted 14 years.
One of the legacies of my childhood is what comes out in my paintings. I don't try to complicate them. In fact, they are in a way a simplification, a toning down of what is going on in my mind's eye. When I saw Naoki's photo, especially after having spent time at a deserted beach a few hours earlier, it really hit home as to the origins of my painting style. Zany characters, boisterous colours, rich black calligraphic lines; I'm a true blue Aussie in spirit, but my landscape inspiration is clearly all urban Japan.
NB. If you want to see more of Naoki's incredible shots go to Categories in the side bar and click on Shibuya. There's a link there.
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A good friend said this to me on the beach this afternoon. I was surprised. As I continued on my walk, I felt bolstered by his comment and considered what he had said.
I believe him.
On my way back, I repeated it over and over to myself out loud. It felt good.
The first step to being able to do anything, is believing that it is possible.
Makes sense, right? It's kind of a prerequisite. So, the second step, I reckon, is being open to the next thing that comes along and presents itself in that kind of new and challengy way. Dares you to take it on. Looking forward to it.
This is today. New Brighton beach in Northern New South Wales. I snapped this shot before an afternoon walk and swim. While I was immersed in the ocean I thought about what it is that drives me to enter the sea on a daily basis, what the reward is. I actually started speaking out loud about it, free versing while being lapped by the waves, expressing the moment to myself and the omniscient planet soul. I used a retarded Jerry Lewis voice for our amusement.
What I came up with is this:
You enter the ocean. It is a massive body of energy, the biggest on the planet. You connect with it. You give yourself to it. You become one with it. It is soothing, embracing, invigorating. It is a pure force of nature. You commune with it. Float, frolic, flap around. Play.
Then, above you - the sky. It is majestic and limitless. I looked up and realised that there is no end to where I am gazing. It goes on and on. And on and on. The sky is infinity. It is a window to eternity. Timelessness, a universe. A galaxy. All right there. Up there, above.
So, the ocean comforts and the sky humbles. I am comforted and humbled. This is a good combination. I feel surrender and awe. Giddy with the realisation that life itself is beyond comprehension. But that doesn't matter. All I have to do is splash around. A teeny, tiny little human. Living in the moment. One with the sea and and the sky. One with everything.
I was walking along the beach this afternoon, thinking. Thinking, as I always do. I try to trudge out any noisy, annoying, negative thoughts within the first kilometre or less, so that I can get to some useful cogitation, some thoughts of substance; elevated mindfulness.
The early part of the walk, the downer thoughts usually have to do with the sadness I carry around. Sadness that comes from childhood. Sadness to do with the lack of love and support I received as a kid, the inner struggle that was ever present, the loneliness, the insecurity, the tears.
I try to see beyond, to make amends, to forgive, forget. But I can't. Sometimes I feel like I am damaged goods. That I am doing the best with what I have got, but that I could have been so much more. Other times, I just, shrug and say fuckit, carry on. Expect less. Accept. Surrender.
Waa, waa, waa. Isn't everyone just the same, though. Aren't we all fallen angels, broken machines, injured souls. I think so. So it's really about coping. And carrying on.
Anyway, I was walking along today and on my way back, I mentally compared life to the beach stroll. At a certain point, you turn back. On the way back you are covering the same ground, but you see things differently. Just like when you hit your forties or fifties, you have lived a fair chunk of life and you can actually use it to look back on and consider who you are and what you have done. When you are in your teens, twenties, you just go for it. You have no perspective.
Obviously, things slow down as you get older. Some things you have done hundreds, thousands of times. You are well versed in the everyday requirements and expectations of being a human. (Hopefully.) Your needs and urges wane. Your ego has taken countless beatings and can now shut the fuck up sometimes, take a back seat, maybe even disappear.
You've most likely been through at least a few wonderful relationships that end, either badly, terribly or not very well. You've seen the ugly side of yourself and others. You have tried and failed. Tried again and failed again. You sometimes get lucky and somethings work out alright.
Mostly, though, you realise that life is not all fun and games. It's a challenge. And it keeps on being one. The parameters shift but the rules stay the same. As hard as it all is, you wish it didn't have to go by so quickly. There are many, many things you would do differently, given the chance. But you don't get second chances. Not really.
Strangely, there is a certain calm, acceptance that comes with age. You probably believe more in destiny. You know what you can do and can't do. You know how to make do with less. You know how to enjoy more from little. Nature appears more vividly and has a bigger place. Children offer delight, hope, warmth and a reason for still caring, still fighting. The miracle of existence, as a whole package, can be appreciated more often and readily. You know you are going to die. You've seen it happen to people around you. You may or may not think about it much, but you definitely know it's coming, getting closer. This can be a comforting thing or a frightening one. Depends on the individual, on the day, the circumstance.
Sometimes, not today, but every few weeks, I look out onto the horizon, while on my walk, and think, every picture I have ever done, even if it was expanded to 1,000 times it's size, would only fill the tiniest fraction of a single percent of this vista. Every day, every hour, the glorious outlook; the sky, the ocean, the beach changes and delights. A dynamic, breathtaking, living work of art. What I do, making little pictures, well, comparatively, it's just laughable. Of so little consequence. Why do I bother? It will never amount to anything. It is of absolutely no significance. In fact, my life, is of no significance. Not in the long run. Not really. Not when you realise and understand that it's all just a self created illusion. Not one of us is more that a grain of sand. So why bother?
See what I deal with on my daily walk? These are the kinds of things that go through my head. And looking at me, from the outside, if you chanced to see me walk past - you'd just see a dude taking a stroll. You wouldn't look twice. But in the silence, behind those squinting eyes - a battle rages. The struggle of self. The coming to terms with the quagmire of existence. The never ending questioning. Like the waves crashing on the shore. Relentless. And yet, soothing. Somehow. Kinda soothing. Comfortable.
One step at a time. Down the beach and back up it. A dip in the ocean. A frolic in the waves. The sun shines on skin. The seagulls jeer. The spirit is uplifted after a commune with nature's essence. The petty concerns washed away with the tide for another day.
I'll be back tomorrow to do it all again.
ART GETS ME HIGH
Author & Artist