Digging in the Dirt

I am rooted and growing from the rocky soil of my depths

I do believe in the words of Socrates who said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Art then becomes the method through which I continue to make a personal, examined, life-long journey towards fulfillment. Casting an internal light and painterly eye into my shadow places I am working to engage my subconscious mind in a self-enlightening conversation. This search involves a mental digging through my past and examination of my present situation which by necessity assumes a physical form as I paint and write. The dependant origination of that which I perceive as ‘self’ is a continual unfolding; I am because other things are, just as my paintings are because I am, and they and I both continue always to become, yet again, something else as time and days pass from present into past.

Seemingly stable beneath my feet, dirt is a living organism and is subject to short-term fluctuations. Digging and peeling away at my layers to find a deeper understanding, I am contending with external environmental societal fluctuations and the consequence of impermanence. I may want to escape into fantasy, from the world in which I live, but instead acknowledge and contend with the fact I am both a product of environment and a creator of the same. Sometimes feeling grounded and often cast adrift, there is the desire to grasp and a need to let go.

A crucial component in terrestrial ecosystems, soil is a heterogeneous medium. Its solid components form aggregates and an interconnected system of voids filled with water and air. Using this as a context, I find in this a foundation for personal metaphor composed of, among many things, my thoughts, moods and flesh. A cauldron of emotional and physical feelings, cognition, perception, predispositions and volitions, I am conscious awareness in physical form, rooted and growing from the rocky soil of my depths, from the stories I unearth, from the gems, the myths and the hidden mysteries that I find.

I am sometimes reminded of the song lyrics written by Peter Gabriel; “I’m digging in the dirt, to find the places I got hurt, open up the places I got hurt”. Even on days I feel like cringing, crying or hiding I find a kind of comfort reaching for my paint and brushes. In the midst of my efforts at shattering my delusions in a derivative Buddhist fashion, Gabriel’s words also remind me that I too, am a voice, as well as body, mind and artist in my search for profound meaning and ways to express it. That realization helps shed light into those darks days when I feel like that fish of proverb, which when asked seemed unaware of the water in which it lived. My mind screams at the danger inherent in that ignorance. Being unaware of the medium I live in, forgetful that my stories are just stories, I can mistakenly begin to think instead that they are the world. Unlike that fish however, I can effect change in the proverbial water, to the medium in which I find myself. I have an ability to enact a greater change in self and worldly situation. My art is both the process through which I do this and the result of a constant psychological cleansing and a flushing away of debris.

I am digging to unearth those accounts of the world that do not serve me well, that keep me locked into old ways of habitual thinking. When those stories are changed and become different, the world can potentially become different too. There is no part of my life that is carved into stone. It is within this script, dialogue and continuing narrative that I find those things that teach me what is real, valuable and possible. Without it there would be no way for me to engage the world, because there would be no world for me, no self, no well of artistic expression to draw from or to pour fourth.

Confronted with metamorphic process, sometimes I wish I were more like a caterpillar, existing in only the present, unconcerned with what’s to come, finding Nirvana in this lifetime, in this around and around, this confluence the Buddhist’s call Samsara. But that has never been the case for me, desire an ever present companion and I am always too aware of the past, the present, the many potential futures and the pitfalls to be found along the way. In archeological self-excavation, I am digging and searching within while looking outward for that kind of existence; in a constant state of worm, chrysalis and transformation that is always striving to paint, create and live better in the now. Stumbling around in the dark as much as not, not knowing always where to look I know the essence of what I seek exists inside. This digging, searching, wandering is self-evident on the canvas lying at the tips of my fingers and provides a personal road map of that journey.