Saturday Afternoon on the Common

People ice skating on the Rothesay Common.
Saturday Afternoon on the Common, 2020, oil on canvas, 38.1 x 76.2 cm, 15 x 30 in

“Saturday Afternoon on the Common” is a painting in a new series I’m working on titled “Be Here, Now”.

THE MIND’S SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS

The nature of the mind, of our thoughts, is to try to find where happiness may be found.  Our thoughts continuously point out what’s wrong in our lives, what must be “fixed” so that we may feel safe, comfortable, successful, happy.  When we “fix” one thing, the mind finds another reason for unhappiness.

POWER IN THE PRESENT MOMENT

Meditation teachings tell us true and lasting happiness can be found in transcending thought.  In identifying with the underlying interconnectedness of life.  If we can notice our thoughts that tell us why we are not happy, and just… let them pass, we may find what we are looking for.  Rather than holding on to those thoughts, if we instead focus on something else — such as noticing the beauty found in the everyday world around us, in the miracle of nature, in how we are all connected — perfection, happiness, is there, waiting for our attention.  All we must do is Be.  Right here.  Now.

THE “BE HERE, NOW” SERIES

This collection of works will focus on noticing the beauty in everyday life, both the spectacular and the hardly noticeable at all.  Here.  Now.

I began this series at the start of the new year, before I was even aware of Covid-19.  As I revisit and finish the first of the paintings, I find poignancy in that many of the works portray togetherness in the community where I live, a beautiful depiction of Philia love — friendship love.  If we look for positives that accompany the loss we are experiencing now, one may be a deepening gratitude for things we once took for granted — like the togetherness depicted in this piece.

Those who write about creativity say it comes not from us, but through us.  I see symbolism in this painting I didn’t even know would be there when the work was begun — the skaters in the foreground heading into the dark shadows — as a kind of forerunner for what was coming.

For now, here, at home, I still seek, and find, beauty and wonder in the everyday: the waking buds on the magnolia in my front yard, the birds singing as the sun rises, my teenaged children lingering at the dinner table to talk(!), the amazing technology that allows me to see my faraway Mom and Dad on my phone while we talk, or my gym friends leading workouts on Facebook Live.

Go ahead.  Try it.  Be.  Here.  Yes, even now.  And find something beautiful and wondrous.


Be here, now.

— Ram Dass


 

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