I was driving yesterday morning on the highway that cuts across the lower part of western New York State, just above the Pennsylvania line. It’s always a quiet ride with little if any traffic on the long stretches of the very rural and sparsely populated country.
It allows for the mind to wander a bit. Sometimes, in those moments, I will take some time and look around, wondering: What is here that might stick with me if somewhere down the road today my life were to end? I found myself taking in the beauty of the very human lines of the the hilltops set against the blue sky as the sun make the frost on the trees shimmer in silver.
Something very perfect in that simple but ethereal moment. This morning this reminded me of a post from several years ago that dealt with just such moments, one that I am running again today:
This is a new piece [note: this was 2010] that I am calling Signet of Eternity, taken from a poem by Rabindranath Tagore, the great Indian writer/poet. There’s a great sense of the eternal in this smallish ( a 4″ by 14′ image) painting on paper. I find it very calming, very soothing, with its clear, cool colors and crisp line work. There’s a simplicity and delicacy in this that hints at how fleeting and fragile are the the glimpses of eternal forces we are fortunate to witness in our lifetimes.
I know that sounds pretty metaphysical but I’m just talking about those moments when all the forces of the world present themself before you in an almost perfect harmony and there is a moment of stillness. Clarity. As though the world has chosen to reveal its purpose to you for those few precious seconds and in doing so has taken away all the weight of everyday life.
I thought about that yesterday as I trudged, head down, through the woods between my home and my studio. I stopped on the path suddenly and looked around. The trees were so graceful and I caught sight of the trunk of a tall shagbark hickory. I let my eyes follow it upward to the powerful arms of branches that seemd to plead to the blue patch of sky above. It was a grand moment and I thought about how often I traveled that path with eyes fixed on the ground before me. How many times had I let the thoughts and worries in my head carry me without seeing past these things of beauty? These signets of eternity.
Here is Tagore’s poem:
The day was when I did not keep myself in readiness for thee;
and entering my heart unbidden even as one of the common crowd,
unknown to me, my king, thou didst press the signet of eternity upon
many a fleeting moment of my life.
And today when by chance I light upon them and see thy signature,
I find they have lain scattered in the dust mixed with the memory of
joys and sorrows of my trivial days forgotten.
Thou didst not turn in contempt from my childish play among dust,
and the steps that I heard in my playroom
are the same that are echoing from star to star.