Filed under: the sweet life | Tags: Anything but ordinary, childhood, craving, Janice Galloway, life
Here is a lovely description of life in three stages. It begins in childhood wonder and love of all things new surrounding us and filling our young lives; grows into the bittersweet adolescent confrontation with desire – eventually craving – for more; and finally wakes into an adult epiphany, that though we feel we are missing out on a better life, real life is already there with us in the people we share our lives with and the places we inhabit now. It’s our lives. It’s mine in truth, the joy, the craving, the desire to return to a sense of wonder by fully participating in what matters around me today in this place. Isn’t it also Promethius’, his descent and ascent?
For author Janice Galloway, art, particularly the paintings of Pieter Breugel, brought her through the anxiety of wanting more back to the wonder of everyday life. Here is an excerpt from her essay:
As a child, I knew what I loved. Pictures and growing things, words and animals – any or all of these and I was in seventh heaven. Animals delighted in their openness and purpose: curious, non-judgmental and never prey to self-pity, they simply were. Coloured pencils to draw with, flowers, trees and folk tales, yielded delight for much the same reason. All could be played with. I had no desire for exotica, for everything was exotic by default; new, fresh-peeled and incontrovertibly present. That intense pleasure in my own back yard remained till I reached puberty, when – as happens with so many of us – a notion of more insinuated its way into a craving and would not insinuate back out. I had no idea what kind of more I wanted, or even what it looked like, but I lusted after it anyway, sure it was out there somewhere, waiting for me to find and pluck it, straight from the tree. And by somewhere, I meant somewhere else. The local was, or so I thought, seen-it-all territory: like mangoes, more might be found only further, much further, afield.
And what I know now is this. There is no somewhere else where truer significance resides. We are all of us, from the humblest to the grandest of places and stations, fit subjects for the finest art. Bare-arsed and thinking ourselves unobserved, absurd with our hats about our ears, we have no choice but to share a common fate. It matters, with our animals and our given landscapes, to embrace it. And even if we miss the Big Moments – the Christ child in the barn behind us or who it is that walks, unobserved, beside us on the road – Breugel restores our faith, our dignity: he shows us we were at the least there. His are human dimensions: the local made universal. As it is, as it always is.
Janice Galloway, Anything but ordinary
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