I like the word "intention" better than "resolution." It implies something to work toward, move toward, rather than something at which you either succeed or fail.
Here's what I'm intending for the new year:
Experiment more. Create more; consume less. Trust more; worry less. Read more; write more; watch less. Write more of what lasts longer. Waste less time. Spend more time in "creative idleness". Spend less; save more. Pray more. Use more paper, lots of paper. Use a pen more, a keyboard less. Find an agent; find a publisher; deliver a manuscript worth publishing, worth reading. Love more. Talk less but say more. Figure out how patience and urgency co-exist. Hope always. Cook more; eat less. Start sewing again. Play the piano more. Pursue truth, beauty, and goodness at every opportunity; realize every moment is an opportunity. Stand up straighter. Speak more often in the strength of my own voice. Find the way to do what needs to be done; sit quietly and wait for the Lord. Accept paradox. Pray more, pray without ceasing. See the signs, ask for signs; be more willing to step into the unknown. Use less; have less; give more away. Shorten my to-do lists. More intentionally be a conduit for the flow of God's grace to the world. Be silent more often. Pray more fervently for safety coast to coast but live less fearfully. Remind myself as often as needed where true hope lies. Start fewer projects but finish more of those I start. Be encouraged. Be excited. Be more attuned to the burdens of the people I pass on the street as well as those with whom I share a table or a home. Love God with ever more of my heart, soul, strength, and mind. Thank more. Eat less sugar but more dark chocolate.
Last week I went to a talk given by Helena Hernmarck, the master weaver whose exhibit I wrote about here on this blog. She showed slides of many of her pieces and told some behind-the-scenes stories of how they came to be. What came through was her pure delight in these creations of hers. Each made her laugh, each had a story, each had a handful of people (and she named them) who had helped make it possible.
She talked about her processes, including how she gets her wool from a specific kind of sheep at a specific family's farm, a particularly lustrous light-absorbing wool, which she then dyes herself. She has done it this way for years and years.
As a writer and not a weaver, I'm alert for pearls I can borrow from practitioners of other crafts and here's one of the pearls from Hernmarck: "What makes weaving with this wool magic is that it allows light to enter in." That's the kind of weaving she does. That's the kind of writing I want to do. Use words that allow light to enter in.
The DVD of the movie “Runaway Jury,” starring John Cusack, Dustin Hoffman, and Gene Hackman, contains an interview with Dustin Hoffman in its “Special Features” section. Hoffman speaks about the privilege of working with Hackman, particularly within the context of one scene in which their two characters have an intense angry encounter. After that scene was shot, he and Gene went out together for a drink, and while they talked they admitted to each other the same thing: whenever they finish a movie they are sure they will never again be able to accomplish another, nor even be asked; that what they've done was a fluke (my paraphrase). Listening to the interview, I was stunned but encouraged. Here were two movie giants who I imagined cruised from success to success without any personal fears or doubts. If the greats can feel this way, there’s hope for the rest of us.
I’m playing around with a new writing project. Not sure whether my idea will turn into anything but the blank pages are in front of me. In light of Hoffman and Hackman's admission, it's not so terrible to have self doubt when looking at a blank page or a pile of random thoughts that need shaping or to wonder if a finished piece is the last before I'll fizzle or am discovered as an imposter. It's just the way it is. In these creative enterprises there are no rules that you can follow, 1 to 10, and be assured of an outcome, and so it may always feel like beginning for the first time.
The Grand Opening of ASI's new wing last weekend was concurrent with the opening of a new exhibit, the first exhibit in ASI's new gallery, although the exhibit overflowed the gallery to fill much of the Institute's wallspace in both the new and old wings.
Most are commissioned landscape designs. Her first commission came at the age 29 years from the Weyerhauser Corporation: "Rainforest," 9 feet by 14 feet. A team of textile artists have learned her techniques and also have pieces on display with the theme "Nordic Forest" as part of this exhibit.
These tapestries, all of them, not just the ones by the master Hernmarck were so beautiful that people were standing in front of them literally wide-eyed and with mouths gaping open. Then there was laughter, smiles. The beauty produced joy in room after room.
I want to go back and look at each more closely, not because I'm a weaver and will try to imitate the technique (although weaving is one of the many things I dream of trying someday), but because it does my heart and mind good to stand in the presence of beauty. And also, importantly, looking at this kind of art, pieces in which you can see every thread placement, which is similar to the kind of painting where you can see every brush stroke, teaches me something I can't articulate about choosing and laying down one word and then another and another to create something bigger than the sum of its parts.
Speaking of seeing with eyes of love (see last post), Alice Munro has a short story in which one of the characters–a writer–does not see with such eyes. In "Material," Hugo, a well-known and lauded writer, publishes a story using as a character a woman who years earlier had lived in the basement of the apartment building in which he and his wife had also lived. In his story, Hugo transforms this woman "into Art"; in real life, he had treated her with ridicule and disregard. His wife, by now his ex-wife, comes across the story in an anthology and sees him for the fraud he is.