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Night’s Desire

Night's Desire sm

Night’s Desire— At the Principle Gallery, December 4



The world is little, people are little, human life is little. There is only one big thing — desire.

― Willa Cather, The Song of the Lark



I guess this is a little departure from a Thanksgiving week of virtues. Desire, to some, might even qualify as a sin along the lines of envy or avarice. And I guess in many instances that might be true.

But here, for the purpose of this new smaller painting, Night’s Desire, that is not the case. At least, not as I see it.

The desire I see here is not carnal nor is it one of greed or selfishness. It is that desire that will not let one settle for things as they are, to be content when they can plainly see there is more at hand to be uncovered.

That there are answers and truths to be found out there beyond the horizons of one’s own little world and life. 

This is not about not feeling gratitude for that which we have. That should always be the case. For me, it’s more about questioning why we can’t make this world a place where everyone can rightfully be content with their lot in life.

A world where everyone has something to be thankful every day.

There is surely no easy answer but the desire to find one remains. 

Maybe desire can be a virtue, after all.



This new piece, Night’s Desire, is a 9″ by 12 canvas painting that will be headed to the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA for its annual Small Paintings show, opening December 4th.

In Matters of Empathy

Empathy smybol

The Universal Symbol for Empathy



Resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the wrong. Sometime in life you will have been all of these.

― George Washington Carver



Let’s continue this Thanksgiving week’s stream of virtues with a biggie: empathy. The ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes or see through their eyes. To feel their emotions, to try to perceive the circumstances of their life.

As Walt Whitman put it in the immortal Song of Myself, describing his time as a hospital aide during the Civil War when he nursed severely wounded Union soldiers:

I do not ask the wounded person how he feels, I myself become the wounded person.

It seems like a simple thing, a natural reaction for most decent people. But it is, unfortunately, becoming a more and more scarce entity. It sometimes feels like there is a total absence of empathy in this world with some folks. Or maybe it’s that they have managed to lop their empathy into smaller bits, reserving it only for people who look and speak and think like themselves.

Empathy is sometimes even mocked these days, derided as a symptom of weakness or softness, something to be exploited. My persona view on this is that empathy is actually a strength, something that allows you to feel compassion with those in need while at the same time giving you the ability to understand and perhaps predict how your adversaries might act.

In this case, a lack of empathy is actually a hinderance to those with less than honorable intentions.This thought takes me back to the words of Gustav Gilbert who was the psychologist at Spandau Prison where the Nazi war crimes defendants were held in 1945:

I told you once that I was searching for the nature of evil. I think I’ve come close to defining it: a lack of empathy. It’s the one characteristic that connects all the defendants. A genuine incapacity to feel with their fellow man. Evil, I think, is the absence of empathy.

Conversely, goodness would include the presence of empathy.

Most of you out there reading this are empathetic folks. If not, you most likely wouldn’t have read this far or be following this blog. So, this is just preaching to the choir. But can you make others feel empathy or, at least, more empathetic to a wider range of others?

I would guess that this can only occur through a willingness to display your own empathy with patience and grace. Much like the words of advice at the top from George Washington Carver.

Do I know this for sure?

No. But who or what can it hurt?

It can only help in some way or another. Try it…

Last Kind Words Blues

GC Myers- Last Kind Words

Last Kind Words– Headed to the Principle Gallery



No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.

― Aesop



I am going to focus on positive things this coming week, a small nod to the spirit of Thanksgiving. After all, it is a holiday that is based on gratitude, which Cicero called the mother of all virtues.

Smart guy, that Cicero. I have to agree with him.

Gratitude begets all good things. It certainly leads to kindness. Kind words and gestures. It’s a virtue that is often lacking in the world these days, much to my dismay and consternation. After all, our reactions are choices and it puzzles me that so many so often choose cruelty over kindness. 

I have been the recipient of many kindnesses in my life, probably more than my fair share. Many came at times when I was at the lowest points in my life. Gestures and kind words, sometimes so small that the folks doling them out probably didn’t even realize the power they possessed, changed my attitude and the direction of my life. They made me feel vulnerably human and gave me hope that the darker days would soon be over.

I am forever grateful to those people in those instances. My hope is that some small word or act of kindness of mine will serve someone else in the same way.

It doesn’t take a tremendous effort to be kind. We sometimes become hardened and our reactions become coarse and cruel. We forget that kindness is always an option.

I certainly feel better when I make that choice.

That brings us to this week’s Sunday Morning Music which is accompanied by a new small painting at the top, from the upcoming small paintings show at the Principle Gallery, that has borrowed the song’s title for its own. The song is Last Kind Words Blues from Alison Kraus and Robert Plant, off their new album, Raise the Roof. The two have great chemistry and their collaborations are always something special.

The song was written and originally recorded by Geeshie Wiley in 1930. Most likely you don’t know the name. Few do. Little is known of her. No known photos or biographical details. All that people knw for sure is that she wrote and recorded six songs for Paramount Records. But even that small sample left a powerful legacy, with some Blues historian calling her perhaps the greatest singer and musician from the rural South. 

Last Kind Words Blues is certainly a powerful song. I am putting the original from Geeshie Wiley at the bottom.

So, give a listen and don’t let your next kind words be your last.



Thankful

Thornton Wilder Gratitude Quote



There are a lot of things I wanted to comment on this morning but I didn’t want to make myself — or you–crazy. I thought I would try to sooth some nerves. Since we are beginning the rundown to Thanksgiving I would run a post from that day back in 2015. It seems like hundred years ago now. So much has happened in this world in that time, much of it troubling. But a constant remains– the power of gratitude. That’s the theme of this post. Plus it has a great song that has powers to sooth the troubled soul.

So, even thought it’s not Thanksgiving, give a look and listen. And be thankful for what you’ve got.



Another Thanksgiving and  it might seem that it would be hard to find much to be thankful for in this turbulent world with its endless cornucopia of anger, hatred, intolerance, injustice and inequality set out for our consumption each day. With a diet of so many negatives it would be easy to forget that one simple thing that truly feeds and sustains us– gratitude.

Recognizing and acknowledging those things that make us happy is such a simple thing yet we somehow lose sight of it. I know my life feels so much more complete when I see how I am made happy by the light that the full moon casts on our evening walk. Or in the way my studio cat, Hobie, runs to me with an audible purr when I enter in the morning. Or in watching the deer play and stroll through the studio’s yard, one or two sometimes stopping to stare in at me through the window. Or in the songs of the birds in the woods.

Or in something so simple as a stranger returning a smile and a hello as they pass by.

Just little things that we sometimes overlook in the crush of the world. But things that are important in our real connection to the world. So today set aside your fears and anger and whatever else eats at you on a regular basis and try to think of those people who make you happy, those moments that might bring a smile or a tear and anything that gives your life fullness. It’s not always easy but life ain’t too bad.

Here’s one of my favorite songs. I know it makes me happy even when I am strolling along and can’t get its chorus out of my head. It’s Be Thankful for What You Got from William DeVaughn from back in 1974. Have a great Thanksgiving.



Reunion on the Bounty

GC Myers- Reunion on the Bounty

GC Myers- Reunion on the Bounty



Was this how a mutiny was sparked? In a moment of heedlessness, so that one became a stranger to the person one had been a moment before? Or was it the other way around? That this was when one recognized the stranger that one had always been to oneself; that all one’s loyalties and beliefs had been misplaced?

― Amitav Ghosh, The Glass Palace



The painting above is called Reunion on the Bounty and is headed to the Principle Gallery for their annual Small Paintings show that opens in early December.

It’s a piece that has a little humor. Or so I think. The idea of a reunion between the mutineers from the Bounty and Captain Bligh and the other crew members who remained loyal to him seemed to have a certain degree of absurdity that appealed to me.

It might be something like the Capitol Police and the seditious Insurrectionists of January 6 having a picnic to commemorate that day.

When I thought of that comparison it brought to mind something a lot of people say when faced with the consequences of their actions, such as those insurrectionists now facing criminal charges and prison time. After doing horrible and often violent things, people often say that this was not who they really were. They often add that they are good people.

I find those interesting things to say. The passage at the top from acclaimed Indian author Amitov Ghosh sums it up well. Was the horrible action an aberration? Or was it a revealing of their true reality?

After all, everybody thinks they are good people. Who truly thinks of themselves as being awful, as being thoughtless, selfish creeps?

Nobody.

We have built-in mechanisms that rationalize and justify our own actions that sometimes, in effect, blind us to how those actions or our true natures appear to others. Unfortunately, we seldom acknowledge the faults in our actions or express any remorse.

Well. at least, until we’re in custody. Then, of course, we claim that the person who committed the atrocities wasn’t who we really are.

But maybe that was who we were all along.

I don’t really know. I’ve done and said plenty of things that I regret. But I admit that I was that person in those instances, at that time. Hopefully I learned, grew, and evolved. Maybe became a different person who was the real me as a result.

But I don’t know if I will ever know for sure which is the real me.

And I am sure that Captain Bligh or the Capitol Police wouldn’t give a damn if that was or wasn’t the real you because they had to deal with whoever it was on the day in question. If Mother Teresa or Albert Schweitzer came at them with a sabre or a can of bear spray, all their previous good works would mean little to them.

Mother Teresa with a can of bear spray? Hey, maybe that could be a future painting…

Doin’ My Time

Chain Gang



Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage;
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for an hermitage;
If I have freedom in my love
And in my soul am free,
Angels alone, that soar above,
Enjoy such liberty.

― Richard Lovelace, To Althea, from Prison, 1641



Doin’ my time…

I was going to write about prisons today. Actually, about how some free walking folks are as imprisoned by their behaviors and beliefs as anyone behind the stone walls of any prison.

As Lovelace pointed out nearly four hundred years ago, freedom’s a state of mind. For the most part, we make our own prisons and do our own time.

Take that any way you choose.

I am just going to use it to segue into a performance of  Doin’ My Time from Billy Strings.   It was written sometime in the 1940’s by Jimmie Skinner and  famously covered by  Flatt & Scruggs as well as  Johnny Cash. Billy Strings is a young (only 29) and exceptionally talented performer who was raised on a musical diet of bluegrass, heavy metal and jam bands. This version shows his virtuosity and knack for  identifying the strength in a song and running with it.

Really impressive performance that holds up well against those of the legends. Just plain good stuff.

And now I have to get back to my cell. Got some more time to do.



And the Season Ends

GC Myers- And the Season Ends

GC Myers- And the Season Ends



my beerdrunk soul is sadder than all the dead christmas trees of the world.

 Charles Bukowski



Yesterday, I wrote about one of my new paintings headed to the Principle Gallery as part of a group to be included in their annual Small Paintings show in December. That piece, Wait ‘Til Next Year, was about the hope and expectations that grow while waiting for the next season to begin. It was a pretty optimistic painting in color and tone, in my opinion.

Today, I am showing another baseball painting from that same group going to the Principle Gallery. This one is not quite as optimistic, however. I call it And the Season Ends. It has a much darker tone, with grittier colors and showing no sky at all. Certainly no blue sky.

It has that feeling I get when I realize that my rooting interests for the year have vanished as my team is eliminated. The loss is till processing and there is a dark void which hope hasn’t yet had a chance to fill.

There is a bit of sadness in it, like watching the leaves of autumn fade and fall from the trees. Or the needles from the dried out Christmas tree.

But my soul is not beerdrunk yet this morning.

So, there’s room to hope soon…

Wait ‘Til Next Year!

GC Myers- Wait 'Til Next Year sm



If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.

― Henry David Thoreau



I am preparing a group of paintings for the annual Small Paintings show next month at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA. Included in this group are a few of my baseball field pieces including this diminutive 6″ by 12″ canvas.

I call this piece Wait ‘Til Next Year, a phrase many baseball fans have uttered as yet another season ends in utter disappointment for their favorite teams. But even as one crummy season ends in despair, the hopes and expectations for the next begin to grow. We fade into winter with our disappointment turning into grand dreams for the next season as we wait for it to begin.

That’s one of the beautiful aspects of the game, the way it echoes our human journey through the year. The winter has us reflecting on where we came up short last year and planning and dreaming for what might come with Spring Training. Summer finds teams putting in the hard work that will hopefully pay off with a chance to play in the fall playoffs. Perhaps even ending the year with a World Series trophy.

But this can only occur for one team and its fans. For the rest of us whose teams fell by the wayside, there is no relishing the thrill of victory. No, it’s a winter of blotting out the low points from the past year and building up the hopes for next year as your team makes personnel moves, adding new members that you are sure, in your gleeful hopefulness, will be the ones that makes a difference. That these new cogs  will make the machine hum all the way to the Series.

For the baseball fan, hope springs eternal..

We’ll get ’em next year. You’ll see…

The Snow Man

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Cool and Composed -At the West End Gallery, Corning NY



The first dusting of snow fell last night. Just a small amount, most likely to be gone later this morning. But enough to send the message that the feel of winter with snow and its accompanying stillness would soon be here to stay. Or at least on a more regular basis.

With the vagaries of this year’s warmth and wetness, it might be more rain and ice than snow this season. Or big snowfalls followed by quick thaws that swell the rivers.

I personally hope for snow. Not so much that my time is spent trying to keep our long driveways open and begins to make me resent the imposition. No, not snow measured in feet but enough that the white blankets the ground and coats the limbs and trunks of the forest, creating a muffling effect that creates an almost Zen-like stillness. 

It’s easy in the vacuum of this snowy silence to lose one’s sense of busyness and to just stop to listen to the nothing. The creaking of a tree. The plink plink of from the drip of melting snow from a tree limb. The gentle gurgle of the creek and the rustle of a few remaining leaves as the breeze moves through them.

This brings to mind a Wallace Stevens poem, The Snow Man. He pretty much sums up what I have been trying to describe. It certainly works for this snow man. Here’s reading of it from Tom O’Bedlam.



It Ain’t Over

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It ain’t over till it’s over.

–Yogi Berra



I knew that Yogi Berra was the one who most famously uttered the short phrase above but I thought it was much earlier than 1973 when he was referring to the chances of the NY Mets, who he was managing, in winning the pennant that season. It’s such a simple obvious little phrase but it says so much about the power of continued resistance against defeat. It’s easy to throw in the towel or at least try to compromise with your opponent in the face of imminent defeat.

But when it comes to weighty matters, matters of life and death, that is not an always an option. Tired or seemingly beaten, the struggle must continue.

One must continue to speak those words–It ain’t over.

That brings us to this week’s Sunday Morning Music which is It Ain’t Over from Northern Ireland native Foy Vance. The song refers to the main character, Mathieu Delarue, from a series of books, the Roads to Freedom trilogy from Existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. The books takes place the German invasion and occupation of France in World War II and echoes in many ways Sartre’s own experiences during that time.

In the books, Delarue fights a brief, intense battle against the Nazis and in it discovers a feeling he has never known, a sort of freedom found in decisive action and brave commitment to one’s belief. Delarue is ultimately captured and sent to a POW camp where he comes to the conclusion that the evils of fascism and nationalism will never end– it ain’t over— until the ordinary people of  the world can unite to overcome the class struggle that divide them.

As we all know all too well, that is not anywhere close to happening anytime soon. But so long as at least one person continues the fight, it ain’t over.

This is a beautiful version from Vance, recorded in the Scottish Highlands. I particularly love the character of the underlying sound from the foot powered drone. It adds great depth to the song as it builds.



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