Pretty Pictures
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Pretty Pictures • Posted: Jul 29, 2012 11:21:57Comments WelcomeVote CoolPhotoblogsPurchase a PrintShare

I was reminded this week of several things personally disturbing from my past: calling futilely into the night for hours one evening when I was young for my dog only to finally see a movement and hear a whimper near one dark corner of our building, and then find him crushed and broken by a car but somehow alive with strength enough to struggle home at my call; seeing a teenage neighbor girl being carried out on a stretcher all charred like an overcooked marshmallow on a stick, after I'd tried but failed to save her from the immense wall of heat and flames that had consumed her entire apartment and the bed upon which she'd fallen asleep while smoking; hearing of my father passed out drunk and alone in the night, face down on the lawn in the park across from the reception hall from which my wife and I had just departed for our honeymoon.

There are so very many things in the news that affect us deeply. We are overwhelmed by the thought, the emotion, brought to numbness and paralyzing impotence. What travesty of thought and action could possibly have brought about such horrors? We are at a loss. We do not understand. What could, what should have been done, by us or others, to head off those things that have irreversibly come to pass?

The truth is we are born in ignorance and live so very much of our lives struggling to make some tiny bit of useful sense of things. We want good things to come to pass, not bad. But instead, it seems we are all too often overwhelmingly awash in things beyond our understanding, beyond our control, undermining and taxing of nearly everything we have to offer. Little wonder we are sometimes forced to turn away, to try to regain our equilibrium, our strength, our sense of wholeness, some semblance of peace within our minds. We turn and seek a friend’s hug, caress a pet, stare out a window, have to sit down, or need fresh air so badly we go for a walk or a run. Or, sometimes we return to a process, a process of renewed caring for ourselves. Some may brush their hair and do their nails. Others may finally do the dishes, pickup around the house, or mow the lawn. A few may grab a lump of clay and begin to knead and shape and squeeze. Others may take up a personal journal or a musical instrument and begin to play again at putting words or notes together in some fashion that stretches, and relaxes, and begins to take us someplace else. Still others will paint, or take another look at old photographs, especially ones that offer hints at the possibility of eventually understanding, seeing the light, comprehending the literal sense of things.

I offer the following short piece I wrote quite a while ago, during a not so easy time for me. Perhaps in it you will see the process about which I speak:

A Mariner's Sketch:

His hat lies on an empty desk. It is a winter cap, of nautical character, made from black felt and black ribbon. Its shape has softened. Its band shows wear. But it is still a good cap, a soft but strong cap with crisp brim.

The room is empty, too. Two windows, high on the wall, framed in dark wood, spill grey light onto a grey floor and white walls. The walls are blank, except for textures that come with age. The light is not depressing. It is gentle and radiant, spilling into shadows, erasing harshness, filling emptiness.

Tomorrow, the man will bring a milk white vase into the room and place it on the desk. In the vase will be just a few crisp green stems upholding wax white tulips. And for a while, the man will sit in silence, all alone, and watch the play of light upon the blossoms. And he will be reminded of cold hard steel floating lost and empty on an endlessly rolling, angry sea.

And after a while, the man will close his grey eyes and commit to memory the translucent curves of those wax white blossoms upon his desk. For shortly thereafter, the man will put on his soft black cap of still crisp brim, and he will leave the empty desk, and the empty room, to sail upon the angry seas again.

But this time, he will not sail empty, nor lose his way, for in the midst of rolling waves and pin-prickling spray, he will stand his ground aboard cold steel and see clearly his memory of wax white tulips in soft grey light.

-- Robert Greigos © 1992

Peace, renewal, inspiration to all of you.

Saturday, June 9th, 2012