A beautiful room layered with colorful rugs and pillows and soft music. Carefully chosen pieces brought back from a traveling life and made part of a rich current life.
Nothing under glass, untouchable. All within reach of human eyes, human bodies, and furry paws.
A safe space to be this morning, to create.
My friend’s weekly life drawing group.
She had been patient with my non-commital “Can I please decide to show up at the last minute?” request and there I was, crisscross-applesauce on one of her sofas, pencil and eraser at the ready.
Three of us, plus our lovely model, who is also a special friend of mine. Two dogs and two hours ahead of us.
Pose after pose, sips of mint and honey tea from a large Mexican mug, I am tracing my friend’s curves. She is very still, and then she stretches and changes her body around. My pencil follows her.
After a few minutes the “Is this looking right?” questions from my mind start to get quieter and further apart. Eventually, they almost disappear. It feels so good, so restful.
My eyes on her body, my hand moves on the paper. A hip, a foot, a long neckline, a nipple.
Then I notice something.
It’s subtle and very easy to miss.
I call them.
I am calling her body parts in my mind as I draw them. “This is a toe.” “Here is an ear.” “Now her belly.”
So weird, so tiresome. So … small.
As soon as I notice what I am doing, from long-ago art classes in college, I hear my teacher’s voice: “No, no, no. We don’t do that.” This teacher had a huge influence on me twenty years ago and I love that she showed up again today in this beautiful space across the world.
So I stop. I try to hold back the words, the labels. I hold back everything I have learned about how an eye looks and how a back bends. I do some inside blurring, I call on some detachment from “What I know.” I just look and I just move my pencil. A straight line. A dark angle. A curve, a rectangle. I step away from my story and my words, my past experiences, and my skills or lack of skills. I step away from my questions and I step away from my answers.
I just draw. For many minutes.
And right there, in this peace-infused space of not knowing, not asking, not responding, and not labeling, I receive a reminder of how sweet it would be to live - and to love - this way. No story, no pre-conceived anything. Just a journey from one curve to the next, from one breath to the next. Responding to one invitation at a time, restfully. So very restfully. Trusting, following creating.
Then of course, when I look down at my paper, I love the way the drawing looks. My left brain asleep or at least dozing a little, beauty has shown up.
What a Gift.
As I walked out into the sunshine and sounds of the cobblestoned street an hour later, I felt slightly altered, sweetly re-oriented.
Today I invite you to consider stepping away from the knowing, for just tiny bits of time. To trace the contours of your day, the lines of your minutes, the sounds of the words from someone you love. Just as they are, without naming them. I think you may love it.
SCARED OF THE SACRED