Deep Calls to Deep
Many years ago I had an opportunity to climb Pacaya, a live volcano in southwestern Guatemala, very early one morning.
We struggle through the loose, soil at the mountain's base: ash, it seems, of a thousand eruptions. In the fading dark before sunrise we stop and look across a green valley to the cone, where thin streams of lava worm their way down. We skirt around the cone, come up behind and look down into a small crater.
Orange rags of fire are tossed high, the primordial air is thick with sulfur. Baptized in a fine powder of ash, our bodies feel the rumblings of the planet from deep within.
This week there are Pacaya rumblings in my soul. My first song in 30 years rises behind my eyes, begging, through a monsoon of tears, to come out. I'm trying to sing the stars, thirsting to sing the stars. It feels like hovering over a formless void, like I'm birthing a baby.
Perhaps I will sing for you someday.
In honor of this, here is a small collection of quotes on art and mystery and creativity.
Life is unpredictable. It is. There is no form. And making forms give you solidity. I think that's why people paint paintings and take photographs and write music and tell stories that have a beginning, a middle and an end.
The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.
Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country
Don't be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.
Rumi, The Essential Rumi
I don't know exactly where ideas come from, but when I'm working well ideas just appear. I've heard other people say similar things - so it's one of the ways I know there's help and guidance out there. It's just a matter of our figuring out how to receive the ideas or information that are waiting to be heard.
We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. If This Isn't Nice What Is?: Advice for the Young
To explain away the mystery of a great painting--if such a feat were possible--would do irreparable harm...If there is no mystery, then there is no poetry, the quality I value above all else in art.
The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
Genesis 1:2, English Standard Version
One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.
“Isn't the writing of good prose an emotional excitement?" "Yes, of course it is. At least, when you get the thing dead right and know it's dead right, there's no excitement like it. It's marvelous. It makes you feel like God on the Seventh Day – for a bit, anyhow.”
Dorothy Sayers, Gaudy Night
This tremendous world I have inside of me. How to free myself, and this world, without tearing myself to pieces. And rather tear myself to a thousand pieces than be buried with this world within me.
Franz Kafka, diary
Art is a wound becoming light.
Deep calls to deep.
Until next time,
All that I hope to say in books, all that I ever hope to say, is that I love the world.
Pacaya erupting, early morning, PhotoVolcanica
Pacaya in a quieter phase, Sidney Angove, unSplash