“You were the one who taught me,” he said. “I never looked at you without seeing the sweetness of the way the world goes together, or without sorrow for its spoiling. I became a hero to serve you, and all that is like you.”― Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn

August has arrived with hazy, humid days, crickets and afternoon thunderstorms. It is the height of summer and yet there are hints of autumn. The constellations shift, and here in the northeast you can see Scorpio again in the night sky. The mornings begin with a slight coolness that will soon become a chill. My beloved Perseids peak this week and the decades-long tradition of watching for them in the buzzing, whirring summer darkness is something I look forward to all year.

It has been a summer of does with their fawns along the banks of the rivers where we kayak and taking refuge in our backwoods, ospreys and eagles, giant primordial snapping turtles and hummingbirds bringing their youngsters to our nectar. Our milkweed bed hosts Monarch caterpillars (a small happiness against the harsh reality of their now endangered status) and the gardens we have spent years cultivating provide an oasis for dozens of creatures in a world that struggles to keep itself viable. We even had evening lightshows of fireflies – a rare sight these days.

We do what we can, no matter how small.

In this vein I find the same applies to my creative life. I’ve often puzzled over why it took so long for me to really find my artistic stride and be ready to share it. One of the ideas I struggled with for a long time was whether being an artist was self-serving or not.  Another was why create more “stuff”, who is going to care about it? Clearly, I had not yet found my true artistic voice or it would have drowned out those conflicts a long time ago. And maybe wanting to know “why now?” isn’t the point and I may never know. One thing I do know is the creative life I have now was born out of the ashes of unbearable grief and when it emerged it was made powerful by the idea of having a purpose beyond itself. It is the vehicle through which I can now “serve” something so much bigger than myself and, I hope, bring to those it resonates with the feeling of possibility and hope.  It acknowledges the grief so many of us feel at the state of the world and yet, what choice do we have but to keep creating and caring? We do what we can, no matter how small.

As I have begun to reach out for communities in which to share my work, I have discovered groups of people who think like me and there are more of them than I realized (yay!). Some are newer to this path than I and some much further along it and I have so much to learn from them. It has been wonderful to not feel isolated anymore, and the threads of old-world skills hold these communities together. People who seek a way of life that is simpler, less chaotic, more grounded and cyclical and have found ways to express their artistic vision in ways that tie it all together. I see it in the folks who spin wool, forage for plants to make dyes and cloth, weavers and potters and farmers. So I work my hands in wonderful cool clay, collect plants for dyes, learn to weave, learn more about gardening for food and pollinators- making my everyday world rich, deep and meaningful. My artwork allows me to support those who protect and heal wildlife and wild spaces and it all curves around me, gently pulling me out of the noise and angst – reminding me that how one lives is always a choice.

In the end it doesn’t matter “Why now?” – what is important is immersing in the “now” as a blessed renaissance of the self, from ashes and tears. Forged metal that has been through fire, water and pounded into form is stronger. Each step I take towards an old-world lifestyle grounds and settles me in a way I never thought possible. Creating works that help others do the same and care for what is precious and wild gives my work a greater purpose.  I am stepping into the past in order to step forward.

Do what you can, no matter how small.

“No sorrow will live in me as long as that joy–save one, and I thank you for that, too.”
― Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn

Published by northsar20

K9 Handler, writer, celtic harpist, artist, dirt faerie

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