As I noted the other day, we are dealing with a personal issue in our family that has kept me from my work for the past couple of weeks. It’s just a part of life, something that most families have to deal with at some point, but knowing that doesn’t make it any easier. For me, the hard part has been being away from my work, that one thing that calms and settles me. This has also kept me from writing much here. In the interest of continuity, I thought that I’d at least share a blogpost from a few years back that is a personal favorite.
All day I think about it, then at night I say it.
Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing?
I have no idea.
My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that,
And I intend to end up there.
— Rumi, thirteenth-century Persian poet
The other day, while going over some very early posts from this blog, I came across this short poem from Rumi. It had been passed on to me by my friend Scott Allen from the Cleveland area after my 2008 show at the Kada Gallery. It was what he himself had felt in my work. The poem had, I’m sorry to confess, slipped my mind over the years and coming across it again immediately rekindled my original reaction to it. Then and now, I felt as though this little wisp of a poem captured the secret behind what I was doing.
Like Rumi’s voice in this poem, I have spent most of my life in an existential quandary, filled with doubts about who I am and what I should be doing. I often felt like a stranger in a strange land, ill at ease in my surroundings and feeling, like Rumi, that my soul is from elsewhere. Initially, I felt as though my uncertainties and doubts could be allayed externally. I was simply not in the right physical location. But it was soon apparent that it was not an external problem. Regardless of the location, I would not be at ease on the outside until I sought and found where I needed to be internally.
That’s where the painting came in and filled the void in my life. If life were an ocean, painting gave me a hope, an endpoint for which to navigate. Without it, I would still be rudderless in an ocean of doubt. With it and through it, I feel that my soul is headed in the right direction.
I don’t know exactly why I feel the need to share this intimacy with you this morning. Perhaps that openness is part of the journey or even the destination. But for me, seeing this poem again reconnected me to the journey at a point when it felt as though I was going slightly off course. Sometimes in the process of seeking one forgets why they set out on the journey in the beginning. And that why, that motivation, sometimes needs to be revisited during the journey. It gives the destination definition and immediately puts you back on course.
This morning, I feel like I am sailing on smooth seas again, knowing why I am going forward.
I hope to feel that way again soon…