Archive for February 12th, 2023

Calling Me Home, Again

GC Myers- At Land's End

At Land’s End— At West End Gallery

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.

It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.”

― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

This is kind of a reconstructed replay of a post from a couple of years back. It just felt right this morning, sitting here in the studio

It features a song for this week’s Sunday Morning Music, Calling Me Home, from one of my big favorites, Rhiannon Giddens. There’s a line in the song that always jumps out at me:

Remember my stories, remember my songs/ I leave them on earth, sweet traces of gold

It makes me think of that existential question: What is it we leave behind?

That immediately brought to mind a favorite excerpt, shown at the top, from Ray Bradbury in his sci-fi/ dystopian classic Fahrenheit 451. It’s those things to which we devote or full effort, our mind and time, that have lasting effect. Often, things that are done with no real expectation of anyone recognizing your thought or effort in doing them.

It makes me think of my pond. I can see its top now in the winter since the leaves have fallen from the trees.

I built it back in the summer of 1998 during a week spent relentlessly pounding against the hard pan soil beneath the clay of my property on a rented Cat D9 dozer. Still wondering if my brain has stopped reverberating form the beating that Cat gave me. But that was a small price to pay. The thrill of seeing that empty pit fill in the rains later that summer and fall along with the many life forms that soon made it their home were as satisfying as anything I have painted.

I often look at it– as I am this moment– and think that it will be here long after I am gone, supporting lives of creatures that will have no knowledge of my efforts.

And that pleases me greatly. Even as much as any legacy, if any, my work here in the studio will have.

It always comes down to those things we do with love and the people that we touch and affect that outlast the lives we have here on this planet. As Mr. Bradbury put it: Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die.

Here’s the song from Ms. Giddens.

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