October 2022: There’s More
I actually had this blog written October 11th in my journal, but somehow the month got away from me in digitizing it. Thanks to a reader for the reminder. This blog entry was prompted by a chapter from Drinking From the River of Light: The life of expression by Mark Nepo (2019) entitled “Venetian Interior” referring to a work of art by John Singer Sargent.
Nepo’s description of this work of art is enchanting. I googled it and was hard pressed to see what he did. Maybe seeing it full size makes a difference. But I love Nepo’s interpretation. “The painting pointed to a reality beyond itself. The subject of the painting was the world beyond the frame…The painting was a metaphor for the dark room we can all fall into, even though we know there is light all around. The painting illustrated the truth that the miracle of life doesn’t stop because we lost our way in the dark.”
While I am surrounded by art and crafts, I don’t now of one that pulls me like Nepo’s experience. The statue in Iceland of the mother embracing a child expressed a deep longing—to be loved. I love images of trails through threes. It’s like they’re saying, “There’s more.” The trees are beckoning me to continue walking, to keep exploring. I also like closeups of flowers with blurred backgrounds or highlighted with a beam of sunlight against dark backgrounds. Again, it’s like nature is enticing me saying, “Look closer. There’s more.”
And maybe that is a metaphor for my life. Look away from the dark room, out the window, to the light. Look up from your feet and see what surrounds you. Notice the details of life beyond your own existence.
Maybe that is also a metaphor for recovery from depression. Notice. Observe. Pay attention. Don’t get sucked into the darkness.
Looking through the photos on my pocket digital camera [they’ve since been uploaded to my laptop], a thought or observation came to me. We need the dark to showcase or even see the light. The contrast. The contradiction. The most striking photographs and works of art play light against dark or vice versa. We see more that way even though there might be less to look at.
Which made me think of my bee “collection.” The bees remind me of their “life philosophy” and not just appeal to me artistically. Ergo seeing beyond the frame. And the bright yellow contrasts with the dark black. They are truly wonders to behold. The bees fit even in with the dark and light theme as they create in the darkness of their hives. They collect the pollen in the sharp brightness of day and return to the dark to rest and to make sweet honey that is the colour of amber when held to the light. It’s magic in a jar. And it couldn’t happen without darkness.
I think humans are the same. We can’t shine our brightest unless we experience some darkness. Perfection is only seen in contrast to the imperfect. Humans are not perfect, but we are perfectly imperfect. Only when we embrace our humanness—our imperfections, our tendency to “mess up”—can we truly shine. We can only be bright against our dark. And maybe we can only shine as bright as our darkest night. The less we own our dark, the more dim our light. In that case, I’d be a neon bulb. 😉
I have more unexplored darkness. The deeper we enter the cave, the brighter the light we carry with us. I may have to remember that the next bout of depression. Grab a flashlight!