The Space Between Thoughts
I went again to the wilderness area of the Boundary Waters this summer - a perfect place to disappear. Silent. Beautiful. Awe inspiring. Nature in its glory. And it requires work to be there. It's a well earned quietness.
I value activities which quiet my brain. I run. I paint. I hike. I paddle. Not thinking takes work. Yet I also value the fact that I am a thinker. The tension between not thinking and thinking plays itself out in many ways in my life. Art being one of them.
I often question whether painting is a release from thinking or a means to think?
One of the things I love about the Boundary Waters in northern Minnesota is the protection that has been given to the area. It's a unique treasure, a true jewel, with over 1 million acres of forests, wildlife, birds, and pristine glacial lakes and rivers.
There is nothing quite like spending days in a canoe just taking it all in. And sharing that quiet time and beauty with others.
Yet the pristine beauty and health of the area is being threatened. In 1909 the Boundary Waters Treaty was signed by Canada and the United States, requiring that neither country pollute the waters that flow across the border. Today the rules are being relaxed under the Trump administration to allow sulfide-ore copper mining in the region. The forests of the Boundary Waters Wilderness Area are deeply interconnected through streams, lakes, wetlands and groundwater. Sulfide-ore copper mining activities will disrupt and severely damage this relationship. It hurts to even think about.
So I come home and wonder: How am I helping the world to be a better place? What can my role, as an artist, be? How can I help the Boundary Waters with my paintbrush? And I think. And that thinking paralyzes me. I feel so small in the grand scheme of life. And I realize I need to find the space between my thoughts to keep painting. Let my heart talk.
Toni Morrison counseled:
This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.
So I pick up my paintbrush. And I keep painting.
With love to all,