I think not of this as the final moment of a year but as a day when something comes to light.
Emergence: when the new becomes: an idea; an experience; something to be known or physical; perceived in part or as a whole; from many to one.
As something emerges I feel apprehension and opportunity. That something may be a moment, a day, a season, a year, an attitude, a system, life, consciousness, art. I stay in my shell or meet it, head on.
Whatever I do I should do with love. I find this difficult. I love when my feelings, thoughts and actions are in the service and care of something or someone. I fail to love well when that someone is myself.
Love of self turns quickly into my search for pleasure and well-being with less regard for others, and yet I need to care for myself to love others well: to make a positive difference I must be strong.
It helps to admit and be mindful of the focus of my love: of myself, another, or something else.
Art is an area of experience and action not specific to a particular political or religious point of view, yet of value politically and spiritually. Art in all its forms is not bound, but free. Art is neither good nor bad. It is open in its making and receiving. It is a means to give and take. Art does not require faith, but may be an expression of faith. Art does not require love, but can be a declaration of love. Art is not beauty, but a manifestation of it. Art is where experiences are shared and differences collide, peacefully.
When I face difficulty, when I loose something, when I yearn, am threatened or hurt, my need of and drive to make art thrives. Art becomes my sanctuary, a refuge from those things that may otherwise overwhelm. Although I love art most when experiencing it with others, I cherish it alone.
Art, whether made by myself or by someone else, exists outside of me. Its expression, beauty, challenge and meaning brings perspective. Art frees me from the chains of my unease.
I am resistant to being one of many, yet the greatest change is brought about by doing things together.
No matter what my strengths, ideas and talent, without the interest and efforts of others, my capacity to affect change is confined to my immediate, modest circle of influence.
Art, words, and music provide the tools for me to share what I believe is important in the hope it is or becomes so with others. When many come to feel a thing in common, change is given chance.
I wish to live with passion, compelled to move and feel. Driven by the need to know, and the urge to understand. Creating art with words, sound and light, fortifies my heart.
To make is to engage, to be involved, absorbed, caught up, enthralled. It is my only means and chance to crush my voice of doubt. My only path to reach the marrow of another's world, and they with their art, mine. Without art, my heart grows dim. Those I cannot help but love, love art.
At the heart of every snowflake is a nucleus of dust.
Enjoy a poem and artwork that ponders on a journey as great as any I have made.
Art is made often and over time by those who become utterly absorbed by an idea or thought.
Everyone has the capacity to make. It is not talent, skill, or knowledge that keeps the artist on the creative path, but obsession. The persistent preoccupation with an experience, a point of view, a person or place that returns in the mind over and over.
Art is a means to immerse and explore that which means most personally.
I easily become lost in narrative, image and sound. I watched a movie and found it moving, exciting, and thought provoking. At best it was viewed by others as a pleasant distraction, and at worst, a Hollywood schmaltz with a few good ideas that failed to realize its potential.
When I view things differently I sleep with the voice of my uncertainty. I wake in an effort to understand.
I feel art first through my body. Instinct follows, and then the mind. Each view is valuable and unique.
Freedom: to act and think without restraint; to be at liberty in mind and body.
My freedom is constrained culturally, ethically, by circumstance, and the laws of the country where I live. I value my freedom to act and express myself but only within the confines of causing no harm. I am free only in so far as my body is capable, and in what opportunities arise. I am most free in mind when I think of the world outside myself. I love others who are free. I often fail in my efforts to be free.
Each day the sun begins its journey across the sky at a different place. Today the south pole of the earth is tilted most towards the sun which shines least upon my place on the world. At mid-summer and mid-winter the sun reaches its furthest point of its rising along a line of travel on the horizon.
For me it is winter solstice. In the southern hemisphere it is summer solstice. My view is from the place of my being. My shortest day is someone's longest, my darkest hour, their brightest.
Although giving is immeasurably more rewarding than taking, I long to share those things I love.
When I experience beauty or kindness, when I am excited or moved, my first impulse is to search for someone to wonder with, feel and talk with. If I fail in this as I do most often, my next action is to make.
Making art seeks to capture and express those things of significance for a later time so they are not lost. Art comes forth from the hope to love and be loved.
What I make is open to interpretation. Perhaps this is true for all art. No matter how clear, how straight forward I try to be, the audience will bring their world to it and view it differently than my intention. Their senses, their experience, confidence and understanding of and in the world colours everything.
What and how I say is only of importance to you, only becomes of significance to you, if I touch a chord.
The music I love, the people I love, the nature I love, the art I love must resonate in me for you to love.
Last night, a solitary fly flew into my work room. It buzzed close to my ear, I resisted its rest on my skin.
There are over a million species of flies on earth. They feed on organic matter, and their bites spread food born illnesses. Flies are however living things, and in this they have value. Flies are among the most common pollinators, second only to bees. They form part of the balance of nature despite my dislike of them. I leave a window ajar then shut the door. By morning, the fly has left.
Whether creative or personal, there are times when no matter how much effort I put into something, it seems I cannot reach the point I hope to. I can let the challenge get me down, feel sorry for myself, keep trying with no prospect of success, give up, or accept I have yet to find a way to move the rock that stands before me. My moving on is not to forget. It is to change my place to better see.
To move the rock, I must move. Making art requires I move, as much as with friendship, and love.
As I talked, I felt good. He spoke of a black and white picture of his father who stood beside him many years ago. How it would be: to talk so freely with my father. To say hello, to tell him how good it is to see him. To hear him, not in memory, but in the world, outside myself.
I think of a photo of another father, Alberto. I lived briefly with his family in Italy. We enjoyed each others uncomplicated company. I think of Ian, a father and my friend. All love and loved their children.
I am most bewildered when someone does not care about those things I value. I become disorientated and can all too easily turn my thoughts inward in the service of my insecurity.
I like to understand. Understanding why someone says or does the things they do not only keeps me calmer, it is the tool that lets me face their action or inertia.
When alone my thoughts more often serve my need to feel than my desire to know.
The Web has become an essential public utility. It is the medium that allows people across the globe to communicate and access content of all kinds. It is used culturally, commercially, and socially.
Net Neutrality: that Internet Service Providers deliver a level playing field to access data on the Web.
The status and practice of net neutrality has a profound impact on the speed, choice, and delivery of online content. I support the principle of net neutrality as it is aligned to The Right to Freedom.
I close my eyes and breathe the cold, dark, damp moss-green of early morning air, and I feel good. I would feel better sharing this, but still, the beauty and wonder of nature never fails to flood my heart.
Each day, every day, without fail and when alone, countless souls are touched by their experience.
Those things we make with sound, words and light, with all manner of objects and ideas, with feelings strong, these things we make give chance to better share the precious moments of our life.
I am struck by how many times the word 'my' is used in my previous thought.
My: the hope or assertion that something belongs to the self. An expression of surprise.
Self: the essential characteristics and qualities of a sentient being considering their existence.
My name, despite being the closest thing I own, does not define me, nor does it belong to me alone. It is a means to prompt memory and thought. My is no more mine than you and yours.
Although I have been known as Mike for many years, some have called me Michael. Those entering www.michaeldesousa.com will find my work. My namesake has left his name to me.
My work is now protected a little more by those who wish to subvert or profit from it.
My name forms part of my identity. Without it how else will people know or come to know of me? With name I know myself, my friends and family, my neighbours near and far.
Art is often a question of judgement. I make something, stand back, then consider how I can improve it. There are no rights or wrongs, but some directions I take may not be as affecting as others.
Many months after I first published an artwork, I replace it. The colours in the new image better convey the vibrancy of life, and the eye-like feathered form (a mixture of vegetation, bird and animal), invites a richer reading of life in the context of the music and poem.
I find no more revealing a time as when I am face to face - with someone looking closely only at my face, and I theirs. More usually I stand or sit oblique and at a distance of more than an arm's length.
In the blink of an eye my face reveals my inner self. I say one thing, but my face may show a more complex or contradictory tale. When face to face the my and you becomes the we. Perhaps it is because of this that we so rarely meet this way for more than the briefest moment.
When I write or speak I have no shield against a silent response. With silence I have the choice to say more, write more, or I could reply with silence, but these do not protect me from its injury.
Silence is a powerful tool that is employed to protect. At times it seems a kind response. I find it difficult to be silent with those I love, however, after time and time again when silence is required or used, I say less, and less, until all I have the strength to leave is on the page, my music, and my art.
It is a mystery to me that the delicacy of a tiny insect wing can be as captivating as the sight of a mountainside. Small things that inspire curiosity and wonder surround me, although I so often loose sight of them in the bigger picture.
It is the small things with others that move me most. A look of understanding, a quiet act of kindness. When I think carefully, it is the smallest things that settle in my heart, then stay the longest time.
Work: effort of the mind and/or body with the view of reaching a goal.
The goal of work may be direct (e.g. that I learn or make something), or derivative (e.g. that I gain money or status). Goals that derive from work do not define work.
To work well I focus completely on the task at hand. I am unmoved by the demands of the derivative.
Words are of no more value when they are paid for. The same is true for work.
I ponder on the phrase 'my need for art' which seems to carry greater significance than 'my need of art'. If I exchange 'my' for 'the' and use 'the need for art', the phrase moves from the personal sphere to a more general declaration. Now it is not only I that need but all who comprehend the phrase. 'The need for art' becomes a statement of principle rather than an account of an individual's experience.
Art is the essential meeting place of the senses where observations, expressions, and ideas are shared.
As I search through this record of my thoughts, patterns emerge that disclose those things I value, and that absorb, concern, and comfort me. The word uncertainty arises frequently.
I am uncertain when my view is limited, when I acknowledge the information I hold or understand is incomplete. Uncertainty is the partner of magic and enchantment, the prelude of suspicion and risk.
When I meet my uncertainty with thought, the future becomes far more a place of promise.
Can words be art? Are these words art? At what point does a word that means become a work of art?
The poem is the first form of words as art. A word alone, two or more, the shapes on page and sound in air become the very stuff of art.
Imagine this: I write the word and letter 'A', the first letter in my alphabet. I place the letter in the middle of a page in the centre of a blank book of 24 pages. I give this now to you as my idea. Is this art?
In childhood I experienced religious faith and have since observed and respect this in others, despite my loss of it. Faith for me now, my trust and confidence in someone or something, has moved from the spiritual realm to the personal, and to ideas. Faith is not a rational experience. It cannot be proved. It is a belief, an acceptance that something is true without categorical evidence. With friendship as with ideas, I view there are degrees of faith, despite my desire to find it whole and complete.
I make my world within: all I think, and all I feel.
What I come to know I may not always understand. This is especially true of love.
Dream new your world today.
When I write, my first concern is for meaning, but I also care about the art and sound of words.
By the art of words I mean their shape, composition, form and structure. When words are presented with care they hold more power, beauty, and the possibility to encourage understanding and change.
The sound of words have an emotional impact and in this they are related to music. Some, even when they read to themselves, will whisper words, as if to confirm their inner presence.
I spend time each day with an elderly relative who would otherwise find themselves alone for long hours. When I am in their company I try to listen carefully. They forget easily, yet they feel, intensely.
Despite knowing them for many years, we still learn what it is to trust one another. With vulnerability comes an acute need for dignity, empathy, and respect.
I have the choice of experiencing those I love as needy, or of being needed.
As someone who writes, who composes music, much of my day is spent alone. Without company I ponder on the nature of self, on what distinguishes one from another. What is my self?
I know nothing more than myself, and yet I am a source of constant interrogation and discovery.
I might deny myself in a good way for the sake of another, or use self-denial as a tool to ignore or hide from my own difficulties. Whether and how I consider and act for myself is at the forefront of what I do.
I have so much time each day to give, and to take. Perhaps I have only so much time to give and take each day. When I give my time, I sometimes do so willingly, and at other times, reluctantly.
When I give without thought of return, I loose all track of time. When I give my time grudgingly, I experience time as precarious, passing, volatile. I think of saving time, but how? I can only choose what I do within its reach. I cannot imagine existence without time, and yet I have so little grasp of it.
Doubt: the state of mind and feeling when something may not come to fruition. A lack of confidence.
Certainty: the conviction that something is, will happen, or will become.
I doubt my ability to persuade, my skill, my knowledge, my expertise, my appeal to others, my wisdom, my talent, my capacity to understand, my courage in adversity, my strength when alone.
I am certain only of those things outside myself, the incalculable value of love, compassion, and beauty.
The music The Wren in Winter is published in support of The Right to be Valued.
The wren is a tiny bird with a strong and beautiful song. I rarely use explicit representation in my art and music, however the idea of what it is to value something is so abstract and personal, I thought it helpful when supporting the principle that life should have the right to be regarded as important and potentially beneficial to the world, no matter how small.
Buying and selling is the transaction of seeking ownership and advantage.
As my creative work is freely available, it is not scarce, exclusive, nor the subject of special offers. People who encounter my work and have money are on the same level playing field as those who do not. Emotion and thought is not focused on the acquisition of the content I make, but on its experience.
Art belongs in us rather than to us. I posses art on the inside, not my outside.
Whether you are an architect, artist, composer, choreographer, crafts person, designer, photographer or writer, whatever the field, I believe it is the responsibility of the creative person to consider the impact of what they make. If what I make has the potential to harm in any way, then I should stop.
Harm may be to the body or mind. People who make things influence how others experience the world.
It is not only violence that harms, but also its thoughtless depiction, and all that tacitly supports it.
I listen as music composers and artists speak about the advantages of collaboration, sharing resources, and the ease of working through practical and creative problems under the same roof. The premise is that creative studios spread risk and promise a faster and more consistent path for the delivery of creative products as compared with an individual. Why am I so resistant to this approach?
I value creative freedom. I do not make to order, nor will I support a product or service that may harm.
No matter how confident I am, how insecure I feel, how plain, talented, foolish, smart, offensive, insensitive or thoughtful I am, I experience the unknown. The unknown of what will happen as I step out today. The unknown of what people feel and think. The unknown of what risk and reward will fall to me.
I have the choice each day to embrace the unknown or pretend it is not there. I can trust another, give the benefit of my doubt, or turn away. If I avoid it, the scale and fear of my unknown only increases.
Unlike an image that reminds me of something I have seen, or words that mean, music exists only during its brief unfolding moment. Music is not still, it moves through time, and I am touched by this our common bond. Music makes no judgement and gives no reason, nor answer. It is the simple sound of being. I loose myself to music as a minnow in a vast, clear mountain lake.
The certainty of music is that no matter my weakness, it wakes me, it moves me as the dawn.
An ethical framework helps us lead a good life, but even the most devout follower will fail to live up to these aspirations. Each of us has a different understanding of what good is, despite faith or lack of it, cultural norms, reason, and instinct. I set out the principles I embrace in The Rights of Living Things, others may be religious, or articulate their own spiritual, or humanist path.
The life I try to live is one with love. Each day I fail to some degree, but still, each day I try, and try again.
I have always separated love and desire. Love for me is all things good. Love comes in numerous forms, is expressed in many ways, and is the foundation of kindness and compassion. In contrast with desire, I feel love when it is unconcerned with any pleasure, satisfaction, or advantage I may gain. When I experience love I care for a person, place, thing or quality outside myself.
We do not choose to fall in love, it is involuntary, what matters is how we act with our love.
Don't worry, I'll set off now. I'll be there in twenty minutes. As I travel you leave four messages:
Message 1. Hello? Can you pick up the phone? Where are you? What is happening?
Message 2. Please come over. I am on my own. I am in a terrible muddle. I need to talk with someone.
Message 3. Mike, you said you would be there when I called. I do not know what to do. I am afraid.
Message 4. Hello? I am frightened. I do not know why. Wait, is that your car? I think that is your car...
Before the act of making art comes feeling.
The stronger my emotion, the more I make. I probe the vague and irrational through my making, those things undeniable yet difficult to express. I understand the artist as an explorer propelled by their inner world in search of affinity. Feelings are personal, fugitive. They move me to action, sometimes to my cost, sometimes to my gain. Without feeling I would be lost as would my art.
Visual Art: the outcome of creative effort as a means of expression appreciated by sight.
Photography: the act of taking a picture with the aid of a device that records light, with particular care given to composition and creative transformation of the image.
I view photography as art, however few images taken by a camera result in art. Being beautiful, powerful, or captured, does not make a thing art. Art arises through creative intent and honest effort.
Hundreds die and thousands are injured or made homeless by a devastating earthquake. News outlets give relatively little space to reporting the disaster.
While my differences with someone may lesson my interaction with them, my compassion and feelings should not be reduced by physical, political, religious, or cultural distance.
With distance I should care no less for those in need, for caring less is careless.
Some convey their ideas and thoughts using detached, explicit language. Yesterday I presented a narrative about the importance I place on emotional empathy. Everything I write is from my point of view, but I hope what I write offers more than a diary of personal experience.
I try to show my feelings and thoughts in equal measure so they have the chance to matter, to you.
Every word I say, from my first to last, reveals, but only when those hearing care to return.
My aunt who is in her nineties is usually buoyant, but today a darkness grips her. Perhaps it is her failing eyesight at a time when reading gives her most pleasure. Perhaps I have not given her the time she needed these past few days. She will not say. I too grow sad. Feeling is infectious.
I stay a while and talk. She listens, at first without much attention, then slowly, as my chuckle about my utter failure to resolve my latest creative challenge turns to self-mocking laughter, she smiles.
I am sometimes overwhelmed by the complexity and feeling of what to say and how. I fail to find the words that show my inner world, my joy, my pain, my love. I wish with all my heart it was not so.
Here, I take my time, I search for what is meant between myself and others. Here, in what I make, you come to know me. Here I show myself as best I can, I share those deepest things. You will find my most in my words, my art, my music, whether a stranger, or someone I care for and love.
No matter what I say you will doubt me. Even those I most love doubt me in some way. Doubt protects us from harm. It is the castle keep to our innermost secrets, the last defence from trust.
With words I can leave something of myself to pore over. Something to consider far away from me.
The weakness of my words is that they only have the strength those hearing or reading bring to them.
The most eloquent, beautiful, moving words are not enough to trust, for trust requires love.
As I see a bird settle on a branch near by, I hold my breath, I do not move. We each gaze and judge our risk. She, the risk of how dangerous I am. I, that I will frighten her. The longer we stay calm, fixed in that place of wondering and discovery, the more magical it becomes. I smile, and she takes flight.
Perhaps silence and stillness is more akin to sadness because they indicate a state of being on one's own, of isolation and contemplation, of being without. Silence and stillness in music, art, and words...
When I play music I am in the moment of its making. My body moves with sound. With reason and instinct I settle on what notes to play and when. I play alone for wish of playing with and for another. The experience is all embracing, personal, aesthetic, moving.
As I play, so unknown countless others do across the world. Each lost in the beauty of a breath of sound in time. Each alone, longing for a time to share its dream-like life.
I have an idea for a project: the world without me.
At first I dismissed the idea as too gloomy, too 'difficult'. But like all ideas that engage me, countless paths from it continue to flood my mind. The world without me is something I deny and yet, I am but a prick of light in the darkness of a single night. I sense how four words compel art and contemplation.
The nature of a nascent idea is that it finds its shape, slowly, persistently, unconsciously, mysteriously.
Humans are the only known species that make and use objects to inflict bodily harm. They are alone in killing others and their own in such great numbers: for food, territory, greed, desire, revenge, high emotion, hopelessness, blind faith, and hate. Some believe that to defend themselves they must own and be prepared to use a weapon, to kill. To end a life. To kill again. This is the cycle of our violence.
Be courageous, be more than fear. Lay down your arms, be loved.
The sky is clear. The moon, bright. The air, still.
I breathe the cold crisp quiet before the dawn. I marvel at its beauty, the earth, my home. I fill with wonder. I stay no more than five small minutes, then start my work.
Ideas, principles, reason may persuade me, but it is the strength of my feelings that move me to make.
The rich, energetic, unbridled, elaborate experience of emotion is the pulse to my creative life.
I wonder whether art leads to anything more than ephemeral change.
In night and dream I wake. I am the Persian blue with flowered form I gaze, a morning past, the sound of bugle call, the touch of word from field of war one hundred years before.
Although my attention on art is brief in my day, it moves my heart and mind, it plays on me. The more I return to it, either through purpose or accident, the greater its lasting impact on how I act, will act.
Here, with words, I struggle as I do with sound and light.
Whether alone or with another, most often, showing myself, honestly, openly, is difficult, complex. I yearn to be known, but time for this is scarce, so rare, and if I feel the slightest risk that something is not welcomed or understood, I hold back, I keep a part of me safe from view. I wish this wasn't so.
Friendship is my place of trust. It is where best I hope and share my art, my life. In this I place my love.
Belief is not imposed. It arises through trust earned by honourable and consistent actions.
Political Correctness: the avoidance of language and actions that exclude, marginalize, or insult people who are disadvantaged or discriminated against. The phrase political correctness is also used as a derogatory term to downplay and divert attention from questionable behaviour.
I am struck by how the word lie hides within the word believe.
Violence occurs with the failure to fuel a desire or need: for self, for power, for control, for love.
Once exposed to violence or the depiction of violence, once violent, its next occasion does not shock with the same force. Violence leads to violence. Hate, to hate. Those violent show themselves as feeble in mind and spirit. They are without inner strength, without honest friendship, they are damaged, alone.
Violence harms those causing, receiving, and observing it. I am not, nor will I ever be its slave.
I talk with someone vulnerable, frail, someone with little power, either of the body or the mind. I talk with someone easily harmed, emotionally, physically. As she forgets so quickly, feelings fall from view, and so I care for each moment between us. As we talk and trust I learn a little more of love.
For those young and old, those without a home or material wealth, for those weak, unwell and with disease, for those thirsty, cold, hungry, and with maladies of the mind: The Right to Dignity.
Sensitivity: the quality of recognizing subtle changes, signals, or influences, whether environmental, social, or personal. A sensitive person is alive to the feelings of others, and absorbed by their own.
Sensitivity is at times ridiculed as thin-skinned, or viewed of as weak. I rarely show my sadness except through my creative work. A sadness that I hold from view yet long to share.
An open heart and mind easily forgives, but finds it hard to easily forget.
Making well requires my complete involvement. I must be fully immersed in what I do, not for my own ends, but in the service of what is being made. Take these words. Each word must mean and sound with the purpose of conveying a single idea: making well requires the duality of self and other.
Put another way, to make a sound I must move. The sound requires me. However, the sound is not me, it is the other, something that becomes outside of me. I cannot make well when I think only of myself.
Take: reach for and hold, with body and mind.
Care: a state of mind and an action of the body that seeks the health, welfare, and protection of someone or something. I may care for an idea and experience as much as for something I can touch.
If I take care only of myself I feel unsatisfied, hollow, empty. The beauty of taking care outside of myself is that I feel, far more. Whatever strength and resilience I have is born through the caring of others.
Whatever I experience, I do so from within. Reflecting on another's different point of view helps me better understand my own. At times I feel saddened, frustrated, or weakened by a different view, perhaps as this is so often the source of conflict. If I sense difference, even for a moment, it might set me apart, dislocate, threaten, divide. And yet, my view is only broadened by reflecting on another's.
I find I love most with others who are open to and welcome difference, for how else can love grow?
I live in a quiet place and have the good fortune of hearing small things move: the air through the dry crisp leaves of autumn, the untroubled ruffle of a bird's wing, the sporadic drops of mist to earth. I become aware of a moment, stretching, precious, long before my breath falls and rises for the next.
Music cannot exist without its travel from one moment to another, and yet as I play I loose all track of time. Perhaps this is why I love to share within its fluent arms with such intensity.
For three months, between creative projects, I have sought tools and learning to help me make with something new in an effort to combine different media to form a unified whole. I am not technically minded and feel overwhelmed by the scale and challenge.
The only qualities that will help me complete what I start is my stubborn persistence and determination. My talent, such as it is, has little impact on getting things done.
My kin are my family by birth and choice. I ponder on the kindred spirit, someone who experiences the world as I do, someone I feel affinity with, instinctively.
Kindred spirits: open, sympathetic, resonant.
I think of two bronze hollow tubes suspended from a tree. As the air travels across and through them, they move, together. Their nature is to sound and share their sound.
Affirmation: the action or process of stating something forcibly, clearly, publicly.
With others I generally keep much of myself to myself, in part because showing my unprotected self, my intensity, my overwhelming need and persistence to understand, my passion for beauty, art, nature, and love, can lead to an uncomfortable silence.
The act of creating, of making, is an antidote to the dislocation and confusion of silence.
I look up, and there above me is the sky. If I take my time, more often than not, it is beautiful.
The sky has no intent. No politics nor plan. It fills with fragments from a far off place, with cloud, with rain, with smoke, with tiny particles of dust and living things, the weather, calm and strong.
The changing sky is beautiful, not just because of what I see, but feel, its nature, far above my own.
Beauty is not defined by being rare.
A small square watercolour of a tiny bird sits on my desk. Despite its stillness, I am struck by how this image of a wren is enough to capture its spirit, especially as I am drawn to its movement and song.
As I see a painting I am made different. The longer I gaze, the greater my difference.
I think and feel my way to a new place as the wren becomes far more than paper and pigment.
Art is not my luxury, it is the air I breathe, my food, my drink, my anchor, word, and memory.
I stir from sleep as high wind gusts throughout the night. In my brick house, under the covers, I am warm and safe. Each time I wake I fade to sleep with thoughts of those who huddle in doorways, under the howl of a bridge, a refuse shed, who rest as best they can between the cold concrete posts of a basement car park. I think of the birds, lighter than a tablespoon of salt, huddled in the hedge, waiting out the storm. I think of my father who, without his sister's love, would have been a homeless man.
Knowing another is like hearing music. My experience of both is unique.
I think of a simple tune and imagine myself with a friend as we listen. The same air moves towards us, the same rhythm, pitch and tone, and yet, as soon as sound enters our bodies, we feel differently. What makes my body move, what moves me is my own, the sum of all those things I am and know. The same is true for my friend. I love music, I love friendship, and I know good people by their love.
As I listen, I hear her words, and then in no more than a minute, she says these same words once more, and then, again. For her, the words are fresh, a question she seeks the answer to. I answer, she listens, she is comforted. We move to something else and soon, a minute more, she returns to ask again. I answer, as if for the very first time. I feel, I am moved each time she asks. She asks once more.
Those things most often said reveal our greatest need. It is the same for me as her.
I wake to see Venus and the Moon above the eastern horizon, at first against the deep dark blue of night, then little by little, their light together, steadily concealed by the dawn. As daylight approaches only the finest crescent is visible, then suddenly their reach is out of sight.
I have loved looking up at the night sky all my life, and yet still, I so easily forget its beauty once the day begins. My knowing never matches the experience of my seeing.
When I hear of violence far away, I all too easily ignore it as it does not immediately seem to threaten me, nor those I love. Besides, what can I do? What difference would my tiny protest make? Surely none.
A life harmed, harms me. The harm may not be clear, but when I turn away, when I am silent to those harmed, when I face no risk to voice my view, I fail. My failure to feel lessens me, weakens me.
When I care, I give a little of myself. Giving, even a solitary thought for another, strengthens me.
I am given something precious. It has no scent. It is not something I can touch, taste, hear nor see. It cannot be planned. It is beyond price, ephemeral. Music is the kindle of this gift.
I am present at a moment of deep feeling, of gentle yet overwhelming force. A moment of sadness, comfort, and love. Before long composure returns and distance returns.
Another's experience becomes respected, treasured, despite the smallness of its time.
A short orchestral piece supports The Right to Love.
Music makes me feel, at times it reaches those most tender places of the heart.
Love has no reason save itself.
Save: other than, but, except. To keep safe or rescue from harm or danger. To store for future use.
I imagine standing in the middle of a large field of grass as snowflakes gently begin to fall. I am wrapped well and comfortable. I look up at a magical moving sight. I slowly turn, my face to sky. I feel the fresh wet tingle of flake upon my cheek. Nature swathes its soft white beauty full upon the earth.
I imagine someone far away thinking, feeling, this same thought. If we do not share this place, it is lost: a thought that comes and goes. The world is far too full of moments lost, and so we make.
Augmented Reality (AR) modifies what we experience in real time. AR tools will soon be everywhere.
Picture this: I wear a pair of AR contact lenses. As I walk along the street I not only see the outer surface of people as I pass them, but a visualization of the data that is associated with them: the data that has been mined by their commercial, workplace, and personal interactions. I have the advantage.
AR is a field of cybernetics. It has the potential to diminish as much as to expand my view of the world.
I ponder on the nature of love.
Love: powerful, positive feelings and actions towards another, or others. More than attraction or desire. The foundation of a life well lived.
With this in mind, The Right to Love is not confined to personal and romantic love, but applies more widely to the right to feel and act with love.
We laugh when agreeably surprised, and we are primed to laugh by the infectious laughter of another.
The pleasure of laughter solidifies the bond between friends, strangers, and loved ones. One of the most beautiful sounds I know is the gentle chuckle of a baby as a parent plays peekaboo.
I do not use humour in my work and ponder why. Perhaps because each time I revisit even the funniest thing I tire a little. In this, beauty and love differ. With these my feelings always grow rather than recede.
Despite its unsettling affect, a certain degree of chaos is crucial in my creative process.
I start work early each morning after enjoying a glimpse of the sky - walking out into a changed world frees me from the confines of my mind. My routine is to then set about making something. At present, first thing, I use words. I make for two hours before I take a short break to drink and eat.
Not all my day is forged by routine, but its start allows me to better manage my freedom and chaos.
The nature of what I make is profoundly affected by my emotional life. How I feel about a person, people, nature, objects and ideas is not always consciously present as I make, but my emotional preoccupations quietly transform my choices about what should go where, and when.
Expressed more simply: what I make comes from my state of love. More generally: how I act comes from my state of love: whether I love, am loved, I am in love, or yearn for love.
Humans respond to music in a way no other animal appears to. Music seems to serve no concrete or functional purpose, and yet its force and influence on my inner world is undeniable. A piece of music can immediately and positively affect my whole being. It has a profound physiological affect on me. It stops me in my tracks and is the food and flood to my emotional life. Music is far more than a pleasurable distraction. It is a place of pattern, rage and beauty that settles my spirit.
I touch upon one reason to make.
One of my most powerful experiences occurs at the point when I am witness to the emergence of an artwork's potential. It is the intense revelation of beauty beyond myself. I have no say as to the timing of this unexpected moment, and I am not the cause of it. Pride plays no part in this. I sense something greater than myself and feel the importance of service to make that beauty known.
Large, complex, lengthy works of art often carry more status than small, uncomplicated, short artistic works. The novel is considered more significant than a short story. The symphony, more weighty than a song. An oil painting, more noteworthy than a watercolour. If value is thought of separately to an artwork's monetary price, the time and effort something takes to make is of less importance.
The quality of art is not defined by its size, medium, or duration, but by its ability to provoke.
When people meet me, they view and hear me in a way I do not know. They see my outside, my surface in the world. A mirror does not show this. They see the way I hold myself, the way I move, my face, my clothes. They hear me speak in ways I cannot sense. They like my look or not, and I have little sway.
Most of what I think and feel remains unseen - most of who I am and hope to be. Friendship is that rare uncovering of most.
The purpose of a weapon is to cause harm. If I own an object that has been designed as a weapon, I have greater potential to inflict harm, whether it is used to attack or defend.
The sum total of harm is only reduced by those with courage who choose not to carry or use a weapon.
By causing harm to others, I cause irreparable harm to myself: I make it easier to harm again.
The strength of my power may be curtailed by what I do, and do not do, where I live, my age, health, gender, beliefs, my cultural, social and economic status, by love, by hate, by law and physical force.
When I resort to cruelty I abandon my efforts to resolve my differences through persuasion. When peaceful protest is met with violence, the aggressor yields authority.
Power that lasts comes only through peace, and peace comes only with respect.
At this very moment of my writing, at this very moment of your reading, someone loves, someone is loved. I may be hindered, hurt, or worse, but as I listen to my breath, and this the next I take, at each and every breath a child is kissed, a hand is held, the eyes of two become as one.
I am made stronger when my thoughts are of others. I grow weaker only as I think of me.
I observe, inquire, or sift through information to know. I sometimes come to know through sense and feeling. I rarely know with others. I know myself quite well.
Others often come to know me through my work. To know more, or for sure, is tantalizing, fleeting.
With hope I, you, we, come to know.
Aura: a luminous quality or disturbance that surrounds a living thing, place, or object, and that appears to emanate from it. An unseen quality that moves the spirit of another.
I ponder on the nature of aura using sounds, words, and light. I do not think of what it is to radiate, but rather what it is to experience the aura of someone or something else.
Function: something that happens aligned with the purpose of a thing.
I enjoy good design, a union of practical function and beauty.
Art and music are mercurial in their functions, and characterized by their relationships with beauty.
Art and music have emotional, conceptual, and expressive functions not bound by the need to work as practical aids or tools other than of and for the mind and heart.
When making I am drawn to three qualities: simplicity, elegance, and grace. I judge these through a combination of intuition and reason.
There is a point when something becomes so simple, its elegance evaporates. Elegance offers more than meets the eye. Something elegant is coherent, lucid, inventive, surprising, pleasing.
Simplicity and elegance may be static. Grace relates to movement, an expression of something alive.
My response to danger from another is to head it off, meet it, or withdraw. If I feel strong, sense I have no choice, or as a prelude to fight, I could use threats to face peril. The use of threats stems from my primal response to uneasiness. It is the roar and intension of striking fear into an adversary.
Disputes, personal, social, or between groups and nations, are not resolved with threats, but through a willingness to communicate differences, and an appreciation of the desires and fears of others.
I am fortunate to live in a home with a garden. The garden has grass that flows to a border of flowers, shrubs, trees and a hornbeam hedge. This morning, as I filled up the seed and water feeders under a magnolia tree, a small woodland bird flew onto a nearby branch, unafraid. We looked at one another, inquisitively, calmly.
Trust is a gift, a treasure, no matter who or what living thing bestows it.
I wake from a vivid dream. I am on the mend.
I was in the company of someone I have known for many years, whom I have met in dream so many times, yet have never known in my waking world. I set reason aside...
What if my dream-life is rich with the entanglements and experience of others? Perhaps somewhere now she wakes and thinks upon our meeting that fades from view like the vanishing morning mist.
Being alone is not enough, being with is not enough. The sound of bird and sight of sky is not enough.
The warmth of sun, the wash of rain, the scent of pine and taste of fresh baked bread is not enough.
Ideas alone are not enough to quell the doubt and fear that seeps below the waterline.
No matter what my sensory delight, what flight of thought I make, my need remains.
Alone or with, what is enough? What sign of hope with darkness trust? With life: give, love.
The landscape of the Sottish Borders is both beautiful and unsettling.
All that remains of the once teaming habitat of emerald forests are the valleys and hills beneath. I am drawn to the forms of this place, and yet its naked grace shows the history of a richer time.
When a tree sheds its seed, I pick it up, plant it, care for it. In time, countless living things will find their home and flourish from such easy effort.
When I do not see nor hear I more easily forget.
Puerto Rico has no power. All communication has been cut by a mountainous storm. News outlets around the world have little to say about the desperate stories that unfold. My attention turns away.
What if I were blind and deaf? Would I feel less about the world? Would I more easily forget those things I cannot touch? There is still much I can do without knowing.
As the overwhelming force of wind, rain and wave sweeps across the Atlantic Caribbean, a strong earthquake strikes Mexico to the east. Movement is at the core of all things. At times movement happens so slowly I experience stillness, and yet even the stone has, is, and will move.
Nature includes life and those things I do not consider as living - the air, the sea, and the earth. In future, things considered alive will extend beyond nature. Things move by my effort and beyond my control.
In forty eight hours a storm has grown in the Atlantic from a gale to a category five hurricane.
With all our tools and technical skills we remain unable to predict significant and sudden change in the weather with any accuracy. We are kin to those ten thousand years ago who felt the wind.
Should I always search for proof before I act? There is no proof of human love, my joy or pain, and so it is the same for change released by nature's force, the world I know, transformed.
Memory: where something is stored and potentially retrieved for future use.
I have never enjoyed the capacity to quickly retrieve facts. I cannot remember long sequences of numbers or words. I have difficulty recognizing written symbols.
I remember movement and ideas easily. I recall sounds and images quickly, and emotion instantly.
Without objects, art, music, and written texts, I soon forget. The stuff of my memory is often external.
My father was an immigrant to England after the partition of India. I would not be but for immigration for my mother was English. My appearance gives little hint of my heritage. People in my presence use the words migrant, immigrant and refugee to offend and dehumanise. They wound my existence.
I respect those who hold different beliefs and customs so long as they do not cause harm. I am enriched by those near and far, for intolerance is the home of insecurity, and the path to unhappiness.
The shadow of sadness can blanket days. Not the sadness brought by a single experience, but a place of self where darkness and vulnerability reaches into every corner. Here the prospect of hope and those things good can barely be seen, if at all. I watch this darkened place in someone close to me. Although there seems nothing I can say to make a change, I hold out my hand, and for a moment, a single of the many shadows lifts.
The way someone says something is often as meaningful as what is said.
As I hear another's voice I am receptive to its tone, however it is curious I am less so of my own. At times what I say is understood differently than is my intention.
Tone in language is open, interpretive. It shows our light and dark, our attitude, our quality and character. Tone shapes what is said between us. Soft, hard, full and fake, tone is our uncovering.
Art can form a bridge or build a wall, melt my heart or leave me cold, show my best or reveal my worst, help me see or keep me blind.
Art cannot make me act, nor change.
What art can and cannot do is what I make of it.
I am intensely protective of my time. When I work, I give myself over, completely. I want what I do to matter, to resonate, to make a difference. If I work on things that are of little importance and that I do not feel passionate about, I will fail to gain the chance to meet an outcome that inspires.
The pursuit of excellence is fuelled by personal need. The need to love and be loved. The need to survive, to shout out that I am here, to leave something of myself.
Culture: experiences and ideas that have not arisen from nature, but through the actions and practice of sentient beings. These include shared customs, social behaviour, science, art, religion, politics and other manifestations of the intellect. Multiculturalism is the interweaving of different cultures.
The aspiration to belong and grow defines the importance of culture, alone and together. Places of culture provide presentation, performance, and preservation of a culture, its ideas and objects.
Art is made in hope. Hope that what I feel is not lost to the wind. Hope that someone shares the passion of my view, its beauty and its pain. Hope for a world that is cared for. Hope that leads to change and the goodness of others. Hope in a better me and you, where us and them is at an end.
Without hope, art is no more than the soon forgotten hollow call of a solitary soul.
In hope, make good.
Being open does not always make life easier or untroubled.
Disclosing myself, sharing what I truly think and feel risks the possibility of flight. The flight of a stranger or someone known who, as they listen, begins to feel too close, and with fear of this, leaves.
Some, if not most of the time, person to person, I take care not to be too much despite my longing to be with. Here, my words on page, this place of distance grants the chance to share, arm's-length.
When making, I inhabit one of two places. The first is where my feelings are strong. What I make here is forged by the intensity of intimate, personal experience. A place of one to one. The second is defined more by my care for those things outside myself, those things of greater importance than this single I. A place of us, we, living things, nature and the future.
I stay a while in both for chance to feel complete.
Accidents happen unexpectedly, unintentionally. Their consequence is sudden change to a person, a living thing, or object, and the ensuing transformation may be positive or negative. Despite my efforts to avoid them, occasionally, through carelessness or matters beyond my control, I am the cause of damage, physical and psychological. Whether party or witness to an accident, my duty is to care about its consequence, to quell the pain with compassion, empathy and understanding. I often fall far short.
As I write, the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic is raging with gusts well over 300km/h (200mph), a thunderous sound of 100db, 9m (30ft) waves, and clouds towards its eye at minus -85°C (-121°F). The greatest threat to life on land is its storm surge, a 7.6m (25ft) high wall of water created by its winds. There is nothing that can ease this overwhelming force but a great land mass. Low lying coastal communities are being devastated. The air outside my window is still. I struggle to imagine.
Every thought, every feeling is seated in the mind.
Art begins its journey to the wide open spaces of the world from the mind.
At times ideas forge arts' expression. At others, ideas play little part of its coming into being.
Art is made and experienced by one, or many. Art is at once private and public. I breathe art in, full breath, alone, and at best with others: the good, bad, useless, fruitful, strong and weak of art.
As someone who makes, my aim is to persuade others of the value of something, for example the beauty of an experience. My hope is that art, over time, has the potential to change the way people act by its tendency to stimulate thought, contemplation and debate through its appeal to the senses and the mind. Art can coerce but I choose not to use it in this way. I view coercion as an unwise, temporary solution, a sticking plaster rather than a cure for the ills of dissonance and conflict.
Honesty: the quality of being truthful, sincere, and free of deceit.
No one else can enforce my honesty but me, and I have no power over another's honesty.
Honesty requires trust. At times I deceive, perhaps to protect myself or someone else, or to benefit in some way. I may feign honesty or call the honesty of another into question when I sense risk or reward.
When making art I can be wholly honest, and among my greatest pleasures is in its sharing.
I say something directly: I scan the horizon, a thin line where the sea meets the sky.
I say something with more significance: I look out across the sea along its meeting with the sky.
I say something metaphorically: I am the sea and you the sky, we meet, far, far away.
As I gaze across the sea to where it greets the sky I think of my difference with another, and how certain, yet distant it seems we are and will remain. Where sea meets sky, where sky meets sea.
Soon after I wake I gaze at the planet Venus shining bright above the horizon as the night sky lifts with the cusp of dawn. I see nothing but the interruption of a small ball of shimmering light against the deep dark blue, and yet I feel something powerful, something far more than a rational view of the sky.
What I see is as difficult to articulate as what I do not see.
Beauty is not confined by my sensory experience, as is its sibling, wonder.
I live in a secular society, a democracy where religion is separated from the powers of state, and where religious leaders have little or no authority over political decisions. A secular society is tolerant of diversity and makes its laws through the examination of facts and rational debate.
Although I have no religious faith I respect those who do, as I have experienced faith. Faith is aligned to those things outside of rational human experience. The experiences of mystery and the spirit.
Echo: a sound, image, or idea that is reflected and mirrors the original.
Echos can help us locate or navigate, they draw our attention. Their fading, mournful quality, charges the mind. An echo is full with mystery. When I experience one I am often disoriented by its source. The echo will leave quickly, and so I drop everything I am doing and give it my complete attention.
Objects in my home are often echoes from my past. A music manuscript, a map, my baptismal font.
When I was a child I loved to dance. I would often play a record and dance in my living room when no one was watching. In my teens I loved dance, and as an adult I love to dance. One of my best feelings is to dance with another. And yet... Throughout my life I only dance in private, with music, on my own.
Dance is at my core, and when I dance, and how I dance, I show myself, the curtain falls. I rarely let my curtain fall. To dance is to make. To dance with, is to make with. I love to dance.
I view optimism as aligned with hope, and hope (the home of love of self and others) as the prime mover of positive action. I view pessimism as aligned with despair and tending towards inaction, although I recognize some pessimists view their outlook as the way to know their existence honestly, and to act in the world without the veils of ignorance and self-delusion. Whether my outlook is to see the worst approaching or the best in sight, love is my essential means of meeting any challenge.
If I think of myself as distant from someone, I can more easily ignore my care for them. The same is true for things and ideas. After all, I cannot think of everyone and everything that is or has been important to me, and so I attend to those people, things and ideas that are in my life right now.
My ability to ignore extends to my refusal to admit the existence of something clearly present. It is sometimes not until I am in the midst of the direct consequence of my denial that I begin to care.
I often pause to catch my breath to think in conversation. When I am with a friend, the trust and interval between us makes our exchange all the richer. When I am less known, the gap between us widens and I am aware my pause could be construed as my having difficulty, is awkward, or strange.
Insecurity demands a swift response and is aligned to the reflex of anxiety that distance can bring.
Patience, with and without another, can be a sign of love and requires that love may/not be recognized.
When something is hidden I cannot help but seek to know what lies beneath.
My spirit is in constant flux between elation and dissatisfaction. I feel uneasy when something doesn't feel quite right, and most often, a short time after I have reached an end of some kind, I change my mind, return, rethink, and try once more to settle on a different outcome that I feel more happy with.
When making, my restless soul is well matched. With company, unrestrained curiosity is ill at ease.
As I consider the world without money I ponder on time together, alone, and with others...
Visual Art: the outcome of creative effort as a means of expression appreciated by sight.
Music: the outcome of creative effort as a means of expression of sound in time, appreciated aurally.
Literature: the outcome of creative effort as a means of expression using meaning and ideas.
I am drawn to the short form, whether using light, sound, or words. The greatest creative challenge is to express something simply that is worth returning to.
I imagine a day without one thing I value: food, water, shelter, a single sense, the loss of memory, words, human contact, hope, dignity, purpose, pleasure, love. The scarcity of any one of these causes me unease, their absence harms.
When I believe these things are at risk or desire more, I hurt, either within, or others.
I watched a total eclipse of the sun on a sandy beech on the south western edge of England. The clouds parted a minute before totality, and I, together with family and strangers, experienced the spontaneous, shared emotion and immeasurable wonder of an all enveloping celestial event. Those on the highest cliff in Cornwall could still only see under half the distance to the edge of totality.
For a short time, the unconstrained awe and rapture of something bigger dispels our petty differences.
Touch is my fundamental sense. I feel through touch. Much of my sense of body is through touch. Touch was how I first explored the world. Touch allows me to experience everything between pleasure and pain, and provides a way for me to express my inner world and love.
Touch requires trust. If I sense touch is self-centred I withdraw and the same is true for another.
Touch is vital for my well-being, yet fraught with interpretation. With nature I touch without restraint.
Whether I love a person, living things, the place I find myself in, an action or interaction, my love is unconstrained by the brief moment of my being with.
Love is a lasting commitment to another: someone or something outside of myself that I have no choice but return to in my mind and heart. Love is reiterated, affirmed, internally and eternally insistent.
Perhaps I love as much when without as when with.
I wake to the sound of a tawny owl calling plaintively in the darkness. I quietly make my way to an open window but I can only hear their gentle call: close, beautiful, mysterious.
My instinct is to gather as much by sense, then later, to learn and ruminate. With only one sense to rely on I am uncertain. My mind flows with fanciful ideas and imaginative invention.
With less I find more.
Two children, far apart, open their eyes full with the excitement of a new day. They lived as their parents do: with kindness and tolerance. They knew love and were happy. One in Freetown, Sierra Leone, the other in Barcelona, Spain. Before their loss, those with them: best friends, brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers, grew stronger with the goodness of their lives. No matter how a child is lost, the only ease to grief is love. Love equally of those we wish close, and those far, far away.
Some of the words I first uncovered here find themselves in new form accompanying an image that arose from my journey through nature.
I publish a still, sepia photograph of a magical hidden place of furtive gatherings and gothic legend.
Deep in the Back Forest Staffordshire Moorlands, an ancient crevice, cut ten thousand years ago.
Online comments are a means of engagement and allow visitors to express themselves and view the opinions of others. Most leave their remarks using pseudonyms that conceal their identity: their words carry little weight. What is left is often a means to provoke and inflame rather than build understanding.
When I experience content online I try to think about what I come across carefully. Online comments have a tendency of impeding independent thought, and provide ill-considered voice to the impulsive.
I think of and experience music as an art form that does not in itself have meaning. Music can be accompanied by meaningful expressions and associations, for example, a title or narrative. Music can also be personally significant in that it evokes emotion and satisfaction of form, texture and tone, but music is not a language: if I listen to music without words it continues to affect me with all its strength.
When I experience nature I sense that same absolute beauty, remote from the influence of meaning.
Things I have in common comfort me. I am more easily accepted and bond more readily when I am with those who share my complexion, sex, culture and religion.
Meeting difference peacefully requires I put aside my fear. Accepting difference requires I acknowledge I am equal, not better. Embracing difference requires strength of self outside my common group.
That we live on one world is as incontrovertible as that we are one family: One Family, One World
I spend many days, weeks, and months on a project before I share its existence. I invest not only my time, but my hope in its success. I am excited and committed. I wish to make a positive difference.
“So what have you been working on?” I take the plunge and begin to talk. Within thirty brief seconds, a judgement is made, and words are felt: “No one will want that. They can get that already.”.
Arrogance so effortlessly undermines. Humility and generosity provides the stronger tools to learn.
I stand with thick green velvet moss in dampened lakeside wood. A dance of clean clear water-pearls patter from one leaf to another before diving, deep into the greater body of life that is my muse. Quietly, with shallow breath, I hear the sound of seep and faintest flow towards the patient pause of heron, still, in wait for rippled fish that basks and bathes below.
I am with wood, with gentle force, long tempered night and day.
Shower clouds hurl their brief and darkened spray along the hill's craggy peak that runs and twists a mile towards the north east. One moment, blunt needles of rain dash against my cheek, the next, the warmth of sunlight breaks through and bathes the purple wash of heather moorland where I walk as a solitary, windswept speck.
Nature is my native ease.
Above all, three areas require my concern and action: care for the environment, care for living things, and the reduction of conflict. If I fail in my duty of care to any of these, I risk all.
My attention shifts from day to day depending on my sense of threat or inspiration. When I do not step outside or lift my head, when I think only of myself, my eyes remain closed.
Each day I battle against my capacity to ignore.
As I began writing my thought yesterday I assumed the blackened shoreline was as a result of an oil spill. After revisiting the beech and learning more it became clear oil was present, but to a lesser extent than coal. My being wrong led me to better consider and commit to how I will act with words and art.
Careless exploitation of natural resources leads to damage that undermines the potential for life.
When activity ceases to be profitable, abandonment often follows.
I walk along the cliff top with the call of seagull above and the great spread of shimmering sea to my left. I catch sight of the water's edge for the first time then scramble down.
The shallow breaking waves are black with tiny particles of coal. Veins of ink reach through the rock and sand of shore. There before me, ruined beauty, the spoils of mine. I sleep, wake at sunrise, then set off once again to photograph nature's distress.
Light bathes the teeming community of lush bright-green vegetation that clings full-spread to the side of a deep chasm. I am in awe. I say urgently 'come see this'. The light changes and the moment is lost.
At times I do not express myself clearly. My thought and intention may be plain from my personal perspective, but I fail to choose the right words and tone. When this happens misunderstanding often follows. Art can be the antidote that lessens the solitude of misinterpretation.
I rise early to hear the sound of others dream. I am on the outside of their inside, their inner world rich, without the constraints of consciousness.
Being awake while others sleep, whether with family, friends, a lover or stranger, at home or away, on the hard earth or a soft mattress, being awake while others sleep incites me to wonder at our distance at a time I am so close.
The crown awaits for whom? What worthy soul would gladly greet this object to their mind?
I publish an artwork with my thoughts.
Fast moving air as crystal ice in cloud I greet you, charge opposed,
Where lightning forms and friendship fuse this difference of our day,
The crack of bright and strike of sound on sand, this meld of glass we give, long lived,
With splash of sun, this vessel of my love for sea of rising blue and crashing wave.
I spend time and journey with art. I use the word art here to include music, the visual arts, sculpture, literature, theatre, film, and photography. Art is my constant companion, my home of give and take.
With art I experience the expression of others and express myself. I have the chance to show and touch something of significance. When alone with art I feel less by myself. When sharing art in person, when I am with another and with art, I feel most at ease, as equal, and most with.
Caring: an act of kindness, attention, consideration, or concern for something that may be living (for example a person, an animal, or nature), something inanimate (for example a sculpture), or an idea.
To care about anything requires risk to oneself. If I care about someone or something outside myself, I spend less time caring for myself. To care well for myself however requires my care extends beyond my immediate interests of body and desire. Some care less, and others, more. If careless, I am weakened.
I step outside, look up, close my eyes, and breathe.
The bright red-orange of sunlight to skin fills my vision, I pull the air further, fresh within me, pigeons coo, their feathers fan. As I gently, blindly reach to touch the grass the early morning fragrance of the earth greets me. I never grow used to the beauty that proceeds: I open my eyes once more.
Life gives, I receive.
During breaks in my making I sought a solution to help me with my next creative challenge. I searched high and low for over two weeks but could not find tools I felt happy with, then last night, out of the blue, I realized I had been looking in the wrong places for the wrong things.
Being absorbed with a task helps me get things done, but sometimes I take so long, I get caught up in the search itself and fail to recognize when the very thing I seek has already passed through my hands.
Each day I find a quiet moment to myself and ponder on all those whom I have loved and love today.
For some I have no more than memory, for others, a letter, or perhaps a solitary photo from many years ago. I keep each love to heart, for all, whether present or lost, continue to shape me. With those I love in person I try my best to tread lightly. Disclosing my intensity of thought and feeling tends to push people away, and so I make. The safe separation and distance of art gives the chance for love to be accepted.
When something matters, I often face the choice of discovering more or letting things be. Choosing not to know is usually the simpler path, takes less emotional and mental effort, and allows me to focus my attention on those things that I find more comfortable. With people, to know requires the mutual wish to know, and I only come to know beyond the safety of politeness through trust.
Friendship is a place where risk is shared. I am powerfully averse to danger, yet my impulse is to know.
I work on the written text that will accompany an artwork.
During the making of the image I remain aware of the broad ideas and feelings that led me to continue, however I try not to articulate, but rather trust my inner voice. An often hidden voice that lays at the very heart of me, and that informs my instinctive, involuntary, emotional response.
Now is my time to uncover, to analyse, to lay bare.
With words I think, I say, I reach, I seek to touch without the sight and sign of skin to skin,
With words I place idea and self within another's breath,
And if that breath bestowed we breathe, we hold that whispered wind of change as one,
For moment of that breath we share, a place this sheltered soul takes wing,
The better I become.
The idea of a garden is complex, yet so easily experienced… I ponder on what defines a garden, the gardener, on our need and love of gardens, and my experience of them, near and far.
Two gardens have shaped me. The garden where I live in Southern England, and a garden in Tuscany, Italy where I spent three months in late summer and autumn thirty years ago…
Following on from my previous thought, I ponder on why I am happier to learn complex procedures with my body and mind over those requiring only my mind. When for example I practice a difficult sequence on the piano, the improvement of my performance is not only something I appreciate aesthetically, but also physically. The sensation of growing bodily ease is a profoundly satisfying feeling. Although I may feel a sense of achievement with a wholly mental task, understanding is confined to the abstract.
Procedural memory occurs when repeating a complex chain of activities until it becomes automatic and without conscious awareness of the experience, for example learning a musical instrument or playing a racket sport which requires delayed gratification and includes frequent failure and frustration.
Although I enjoy physical procedural learning, I have an intense dislike of following or learning a series of mental actions that must be carried out in a certain order or manner. My body works best with mind.
When I was a child in bed and about to sleep I would think of someone close I might loose. I would not stop until I felt my sadness real with silent tears. It took many years to know this search for comfort was how I coped with the separation of my mother and father, and them from me. I was fostered at three. My surrogate mother died when I was fourteen, my mother at nineteen, and my father three years later. Despite my loss I knew love, given and received. My music art and words become my silent tears.
I came upon a work of art that moved me. I wanted to share this, however as I researched the artist my response grew more complex, and I kept the experience to myself.
Despite its undoubted force at the time, the art faded from my view until someone brought that same work as one that was deeply affecting. At first I did not recall the artist's name.
When I fail to give I begin to forget, I become impoverished. To share rejuvenates my heart and mind.
When I am in the company of nature, a friend, or someone I meet for the first time, it is the little things that stand above the rest.
I walk into the quiet early morning and crouch down, close to a small clay pot that is home to an oak seedling I planted from an acorn in the spring.
At times the changing tone of a leaf or spurt of growth captures my attention. At times it is a thought that sprouts from being close to such a fragile little thing.
I have learned that to do anything well I need to be active, and I must be attentive to how I drink, eat and sleep. If I fail to care for any one of these my competence is impaired, my achievements, reduced.
If I am not active enough (physically, intellectually, and emotionally), if I fail to drink, eat and sleep enough, I perform poorly. If I am too active, if I eat, drink and sleep too much, I perform poorly.
To know what activity, nourishment and rest I require, I need only pause and listen.
I wake at two in the morning to a great blast of sound through my open window that splits the sky. Thunder is too tame a word as it roars, tears, and splinters the dense dark night. Its fierce untameable force buckles the air towards the west. Rain draws its breath before it spits king-sized drops, then spills itself, full force. The fork of light, too bright, bare, wild hair cuts the air. The travelling crack and howl rumbles far further than I can tell. Before its final fade, a burst of blinding white returns. I love a storm...
In a dry spell I water the young hornbeam hedge that lines the boundary of our back garden.
Light dances as drops fall from the deep-veined light-green leaves and the thick spray of water patters then gathers on the soil beneath. I look down and as I do, birds sing above me on the branches of a damson tree. Bees buzz. The scent of earth fills my breath. Here with nature, the trivial clamour of human squabble subsides.
Biomechatronics: the integration of biology, mechanics, artificial intelligence and electronics; the replacement of parts of the body that are damaged or worn out (e.g. the development of prosthetic limbs); the enhancement of existing biological operations (e.g. the augmentation of vision).
Biomechatronics is not fiction, it is with us today.
The world is home to partial and non-organic beings. Consider The Rights of Living Things.
Language of any colour can be powerful, whether used in life or art. My choice however has been to steer away from using coarse and offensive language in my work. This helps me reach a wider audience, including children and those from communities that scorn 'bad language'.
Creating work within a disciplined framework encourages me to search for more imaginative solutions.
Showing all, being explicit, removes the mystery, the greatest force that fires our heart and thought.
A piece of music for voices, strings, piano, trombones, solo cello, and solo clarinet.
Hear my sleep, my whisper, my breath at rest, my dream...
For the last three days I have struggled to put into words those things I have found in music. I have known the title of the piece and many thoughts have sprung from this, however switching from the emotional expression of music to the voice of language has been fraught with uncertainty.
This morning it seems my hours of pondering have led to something worthwhile, although I will not know for sure until tomorrow. Despite its significance, music's voice is far from meaning.
I receive a phone call from a family member. She is in great distress. She does not know what is happening and cannot find the book she writes things that have and will happen through the day. At times a call can ease her concerns but not today. I say I will be there in twenty minutes. When I arrive I find the book she does not recognize open by the phone. Hi Mike, good to see you. What are you doing here? You called. Did I? Well, it's good to see you. You too. We talk, she smiles, time passes well.
Difference is not something that divides me from you, it is the foundation of my strength. My difference to you of age, gender, colour, culture, faith, and place enriches me.
Our difference makes me more.
Fear and harm of difference only shows the fear of self alone.
Net neutrality is when Web traffic is treated equally. As an individual, my music, images and words reach an audience on the Web using the same path as a multi-billion dollar corporation.
With Net neutrality, Internet service providers (ISPs) may not intentionally block, slow down, or charge money for online content. Net neutrality encourages dialogue and diversity.
With Net neutrality, the Web remains free and open to all.
Empathy: the capacity to comprehend and be emotionally connected with the experience of another.
When someone is in distress, physically or emotionally, there are some who not only feel, but are driven to act. There is a point when the distance between myself and someone in need is so great there seems little I can do. Still, I try to aim that force of common feeling constructively and make.
During the times I am more open to the world of others my life is enriched, immeasurably.
I visit Cambridge university, a rival of Oxford university with whom I am more familiar. Both bask in the reputation and privilege of 800 years as centres of learning and excellence.
I never attended university or an academy as a student and so I view them as an outsider. I remain hungry to learn, but I cannot fall back on the independent validation of my knowledge and ability. For this I am fortunate, for the words I say stand unhampered by the advantage of association.
The strongest blue of sky, eye and sea are made from the very air we breathe.
When sunlight passes through our atmosphere, more blue is scattered by oxygen and nitrogen. My eyes are blue for a similar reason, despite having no blue pigment.
I love deep ocean blue, sky blue, its reach and wash, its free and feral soul.
My music, art, and ideas are free to discover and experience. Why?
The more who listen, gaze, and think as a result of experiencing my work, the greater its impact.
I view the arts as essential to human well being. Art can be the catalyst of positive change.
I have comfortable shelter, I eat well, and enjoy good health. I use my time to make.
Money has no place nor force where birds sing and clouds play.
The exchange of money is the single force that dominates the decisions of those in power.
Wherever there is a great deal of money, there is temptation, corruption, and the seduction of self-interest. Not everyone however has a price. Not everyone is caged by its promise of a comfortable life.
Money exists because of distrust between humans. When we trust and act well, there is no need of it.
I have two very different ways of being. One is full with feeling and enchantment that I think of as a poetic sensibility. The other is more emotionally detached, rational, restrained. When I work creatively these ways of being intermingle.
I feel most with others and with nature. When I feel most I sense myself most alive. I think most when alone. I prefer not to be alone yet know being so is as vital for my well being as to be with others.
I think more about time, its value, and limit. These are difficult ideas.
Whatever I do is placed in time. Every breath I take. Things I hear and see, touch, taste and smell.
However I act is placed in time. Time stores my sense of being alive. Time is where I come to know.
Those things I value most exist outside of time.
When I experience love, compassion and beauty I sense their nature unconstrained, unlimited by time.
Time: a way to think about what has happened, what is happening, and what will happen.
When I think of 'my time' I think of events and experiences that are constrained by my being present.
Time is the place I live within. In order to acquire, I give my time: I do something.
Money provides a model for me to sell my time. What and how much I do is given a price depending on my age, gender, location, culture, how attractive I am, and how skilled or clever I am perceived as.
Music that works best for me lies in a sweet spot between enough change, but not too much. I enjoy discord and variation of pulse, rhythm and volume. Discord provides drama and tension. If a piece is nothing but harmonious I feel it too sugary. I do not however enjoy music that is predominantly dissonant, or with patterns or forms I cannot gather by mind or instinct.
Music I most love lets me feel both my comfort and unease.
Poison: something capable of causing illness or death.
Antidote: something to counteract a particular poison.
Ever since first exploring the world online in 1993 I have tried to take care about what I say. The more I shout, the less I hear. Each word, each sound, each moment of light is remembered here.
When I am disrespectful, aggressive, or intolerant, in person or online, I absorb, I become the poison.
A tiny bird tumbled down my chimney and fell into my wood stove this morning. This happens now and again in early summer as fledglings set out for the first time and explore the world. The stove has a heat resistant glass door. I close one full length curtain so that the open French door is the best prospect of escape. I unlatch the stove. The bird flies free.
Watching that little bird flutter from its grey dusty cell back into the garden was pure joy.
I see a young sister and brother outside my window. The oldest is no more than four. Both skip towards a bed of aromatic lavender with butterfly nets in hand. I sense the collision of two responses. The first is my recognition of their innocence, the second, my concern for their fall from innocence.
A butterfly net allows children to capture life so that it can be observed. It is also a tool to hunt and kill. Most often this choice is left to the child. I remember well how I was given this choice over life or death.
Before we talk, before we sing, we dance.
The need to dance is not exclusive to humans. East Asian red crowned cranes begin to dance from a young age and continue their bounds and leaps through every season of their forty years of life.
Be the dancer, become the dance.
Many thoughts at Think This Today are presented from my point of view. When I say I, I am not speaking for you or we, although you may find something in common with what I say. With 'I', you are free to judge the value of what you find here, and being less vulnerable in this exchange, your willingness to pause is given greater chance. The use of we or you can be presumptuous, preachy, arrogant. My concern is that I do not assume, assert or proclaim as if I know any more than I.
As I do not promote my work commercially nor network my way to notoriety, it has to stand on its own two feet. If someone discovers something valuable, they will share it. If what I make does not resonate or connect, people will pass it by.
The more art is known makes no difference to its aesthetic value or the merit of its expression or ideas. The less it is known, the narrower its impact. Unlike the act of making, in its affect less is not more.
I find social gatherings of more than a handful uncomfortable as there is so much I wish to say but hold back. We have little in common yet much to share. Time passes long before I draw breath.
I meet a beautiful ten day old baby. All is future. All is hope. A milestone.
I gaze at the newborn held gently in her mother's arms, eyes closed. She knows nothing but love.
Interval: the space between.
I use the word 'time' often in this place of thoughts. I am bound by it. I cannot come to know without its travel, and yet things I come to know can also be unconstrained by time. Although my experience of love is from one moment to the next, love exists through the filaments I know and remember as the passing of my time. Perhaps I need time's interval to prevent my being overwhelmed.
I ponder more on those things that change the way I act:
The love I am given and see given. The love withheld from me. The love I give. The love I withhold.
Desire. My health. What I eat and drink. The shelter I enjoy. My effort in exercise and thought.
The money I and others have. The money I and others have not. What I own.
My time with nature. My time alone. My time with another. Art, music, words. All change the way I act.
I value life, love, and beauty. I want my life to matter, to make a positive difference. I could have spent my time making a mountain of money so that it could be used for the benefit of others, but I would have been, would be, subject to its temptations and corrosive touch.
Art provides the means to share in the importance of those things I value, however, to what extent does art matter? Has a painting, piece of music, or dance ever changed your mind or way you act? Do words?
I received a message in the early hours that my son was in the accident and emergency department of a hospital with suspected concussion. I raced the one hundred miles from my home to be with him. Over the next twenty four hours it became clear there was no lasting damage.
When I was in the dark about my son's condition I wanted to drive as quickly as possible, but I held back, just a little. The distance forced my hand. There were other sons and daughters on the road.
At the heart of prominent news stories is an appeal to our insatiable desire to know more. Popular news excites and offends, alerts us to risk, and may promise the potential of personal gain.
Love, kindness, and compassion are significantly less prominent in news broadcasting as they appear less dramatic, unless set against acts of harm or discord.
I am in no doubt that far, far more acts of love happened yesterday as opposed to a single act of hate.
Tolerance: my willingness or increasing insensitivity that allows the existence, occurrence, or practice of something disagreeable, without interference.
I can be tolerant of something that is good for me, or that injures me. I am intolerant of those who purposely cause harm. My intolerance is expressed peacefully, and with the full force of my voice.
The celebration of amicable difference is essential for peace. To love requires tolerance.
I make something when my feelings run high. For me, an act of art is directly aligned with something of personal or societal significance. I cannot make unless I feel. This is especially true for music.
An act of art seeks to hold my response, both emotional and reasoned. It is my resistance to loss. The means to share. The closest thing to touch, my deepest need.
Acts of art may not lead to change, but their effort is testament of the desire and will to do so.
An artwork touches on the fear and confusion of the Grenfell Tower Fire, however it does not show those caught up in it as victims, but rather people with intention and strength, no matter their form. I choose to see their spirits as vibrant, purposeful, powerful.
I pass halfway through this journey of thoughts. Reflecting on a new idea each morning is difficult, yet the positive change it brings is undeniable.
On any day I might have been half way through my life. At some point this prospect becomes less likely, and at that moment, each breath, each drop of rain from summer cloud that pats upon the dusty ground becomes a jewel full with nascent beauty. Half way leaves time enough to start afresh.
I spend many, many hours trying to take in the tragedy of a devastating fire that swept through a seventy meter high block of flats where hundreds of people lived. Words cannot express the terror, anguish, sadness and pain so many feel.
As someone from a distance, my feelings are of little worth unless I act.
For the past two days I have had a powerful virus that has drained me. I have had no food and can only keep down small sips of water. A few short steps leaves me exhausted. I can barely keep my eyes open.
As someone who usually has a deep well of energy, the greatest lesson of this experience is how, when I am forced to slow down, I listen to my body differently and gather small pockets of time where I ponder on my fragility, for it has taken only the tiniest microbe to stop me in my tracks.
Following on from my previous thought, I should express, what for me, doing good is.
My shortest maxim, my rule of conduct is, with life: love. As I live, I try my best to act and treat others with love. I often fail or fall short, and my efforts may go unnoticed, but knowing this I try again.
I have expressed what I consider to act with love in The Rights of Living Things. When I recognize the right of another and act by it, I do good. The more good I do, the more peace I find.
I am resistant to selling my time, my freedom and expression, as I value these so very much. I view good work, not as a job, but as something worth doing that produces a beneficial outcome. Although a job may also produce positive results, it is done for money. As I seek to maximize profit, time and objects become defined by their economic price, and conflicts of interest arise from why and what I do.
As I see it, my only work of value is in my effort to do good.
We breath the same air and drink the same water that flows and falls unfettered from the sky, that rains across our short-lived petty boundaries. We sense that same light and warmth of sun upon our skin, from north to south, from east to west. We live with extraordinary landscapes, teaming with life and beauty, with spirit gift.
We are but once and in this moment love is all we have to give.
Words drift and glide above the edge of my sleep. In dream what is said is often far from clear.
As I write I place one idea in front or behind another. Language arrives as a thin line of meaning that makes its point before it stops. Language, written and said, is linear. It starts then ends. I can dip in and out of a conversation, but it cannot be heard all at once as a painting can be seen.
Language by its nature, as music, is a child of time.
A piece for piano, violins, viola and cello arises from a period of loss.
We open our arms in the hope we are accepted. We are held by those who care for us.
We hold those we care for, no matter our difference.
In England, candidates with the most votes in each constituency win. Losing candidates win no representation at all. I have voted for over forty years and in all that time candidates I have cast my vote for have never won. I live in a defective democracy. A proportional system with the right to abstain, and compulsory voting would be democratic. Nevertheless, I vote because it is my right. I vote so my voice is counted in opposition. I vote because it is a rare privilege born of sacrifice. If you can, vote!
I hoped to do no more than encourage those to vote during an election. With the announcement that human rights laws would be changed if they "get in the way" of preventing terrorism, I feel conscience bound to voice my strong opposition to this view.
Governments require checks and balances to offset their power. Human rights laws are designed for this. I urge you to argue against any party that declares the ends justifies the means.
One of many reasons I value the creation of art is the experience that, at least for a time, its completion is a positive encounter with an end. When I no longer make, I witness something new come into being.
The end of my efforts becomes the start of my sharing. The making of art, a cycle of life.
Like many endings I re-visit them. I reconsider, and at times I realize the end was far from sight.
As I approach the completion of a new piece of music I ready myself for its leaving.
I value my freedom to express, but I try to do so with care. I make to share with people of any age
The principle I work by is to do no harm: a challenging self-imposed boundary, for it is far easier to immediately affect people using explicit, graphic content.
A pen is neither good nor bad. Its strength lies only in how it is used, what is said, and by whom. The same is true for anything used to make.
An artwork and poem inspired by the frozen wilderness of ice that covers the lakes, rivers and shores of the Hudson Bay in Northern Canada.
I often frame my thoughts and opinions in the hope I might reach those in opposition to the views I hold. The weakness of this indirect approach is that at times what I say might miss the mark.
My previous thought sought to encourage those reading it to consider not just humanity as family, but all living things. To think of the world's minerals, its air and water as family requires a further leap of the imagination, but only then can I proclaim myself a citizen of this fragile, beautiful world.
Who do I count among my family? Those close to me who share my genes, those I love, my friends. Could my neighbours, my wider community be my family? What of those with whom I share a country, a continent, the world? Are all humans part of my family? And what of other living things?
I do not trade with my family, nor compete for advantage over them. I cooperate and treat them as my own. One Family, One World.
As with many ideas, the start of something varies depending on its climate, tradition, and culture.
I have always felt that in England where I live, May drifts its spring into summer, and that June describes its start, and yet, for you, this very same time may be far from all those things I know as summer. My summer, autumn, winter and spring is much the same. Each day the seasons turn.
At times I tilt towards the cold, at others, the warmth. My earth spins unpredictably around my sun.
When I compose music, create images, or write words, I am alone.
Creating art of one kind or another is, for me, a reflective, solitary experience. It is not that I wish to be alone as I most love being with. It is that being alone I better, more honestly listen. Being alone I focus on the beauty of a place or person. Being alone, I come to value the company of others even more.
Being solely by myself my need to share is fierce, my love of life: intense.
I hold strong political views, yet avoid stating them explicitly.
Party politics in a social democracy brings together a consensus of ideas with the aim of persuading voting members of its community to entrust decisions about the way they are governed. People hold sincere opinions on both sides of an argument of how to make life better. Voicing my opinion reduces the engagement with those whom I disagree with. A place to meet gives chance to understand.
When words from those I love are spoken or written to me, they cause feeling. When I say or write to those I love they do the same. When giving words, I am not always careful over their choice. When receiving them, I feel, I have no choice but to care. Language is the best tool I have to understand, and so I pour over the use of words I hear and read, perhaps at times too much.
Language means, and yet it is still so far from the meaning a single kind and caring touch can give.
Perhaps I enjoy daybreak so much because of my good fortune in living where the silence and sounds of nature can be heard. When I wake it is as if what I hear and see is for the first time.
My first time is rich with heightened sense and feeling. In my work I often seek to rekindle the ephemeral, precious instant of experiencing something new. The mystery is that I take so long to do so.
The brief periods when I feel moments as my first are my richest.
It is warm with early summer as thunder rumbles through the dull-gold of morning light. Crows cor with the come and go of falling rain. The tingling drips drop gently, then more densely as the shard and crack of cloud jostles to the earth. Soon the charge of sky moves off, birds begin to sing.
I share the foundation of a new piece of music. The sound: a fledgling under passing storm, fully formed, yet vulnerable. A time of listening full with thought and care.
When I feel strongly about something, I temper my desire to immediately express myself except with those I trust. Although this is born from my need to understand what people do and say, it is my way to maintain the bridge between one view and another. The snag of self-control is that often-times people remain unaware of how I feel, and how I feel is immeasurably important to my sense of resilience. And so, when I feel strongly about something, I make with hope to share.
It takes time for me to take things in. I give myself time to take things in. I need time to take things in.
Late in the afternoon, following a night and day of feeling, of thought, I sit at the piano and start to play.
Music arrives from a place unknown. It is the bringing together of my experience, it is not conscious. I listen as I play. I listen, as a child I play.
Music is my kernel, the fruit within the shell.
I search for words that reach the young and old in equal measure. Words that touch those who believe and those who do not. Words that hold the mind and heart from striking out. Words that let us breathe, that say with strength: I am with you:
Love shows itself with force in times of unimaginable loss.
For those with deafening silence where once their loved ones spoke. For those with pain, with fear, bewilderment and grief.
Life is all I know. Each breath, each moment, a chance and choice to love.
Money, the most ubiquitous means of human exchange, is used to gain, and eases practical need, however in itself has no value, and yet money is the single greatest cause of human unhappiness.
Before children are taught about money, they learn far more of what it is to give and take.
Money cannot buy those things I treasure. It has no force in love, compassion, kindness, friendship, hope, or wisdom. Money is an idea I am far better off without.
Overthinking: trying to understand too much, analysing to excess, thinking beyond its usefulness.
My resistance to thinking carefully about something, to my taking time and viewing things from many points of view, is that my knowing becomes less certain. A fast and confident response allays my insecurities and avoids the hesitancy and dangers of doubt. It is far easier to follow than to lead.
The charge of overthinking only occurs because of my propensity for quick, easy answers.
The deep of night can seem foreboding, uncertain, and full with unfamiliar thoughts and images. A feeling of ambivalence often permeates my wakeful nights.
What is known and unknown is of never ending interest to the curious animal, and the most curious of all is that which is known and unknown about our inner lives.
What if my every action, my every hidden move is seen one day? Would I be proud to show my all? Should I reveal my every move to those I call my friends, to those I love? Perhaps I cannot say I lead a good and fruitful life unless I am content for this to be revealed. Being human I make mistakes, I choose to stay when I should go, to go when I should stay, I say too much, I offer too little, I seek to satisfy myself. I fail to be as good as I might be in many ways. Yet honesty in this gives chance to trust.
I easily forget: the soft give of moss beneath bare feet; the scent of pinewood cabin; my first taste of blueberry, the unbroken song of skylark; a mist that rises softly; the plastic waste washed up on shore; the countless living things that die because of human thoughtlessness; where last I left my glasses; with those I am in love. I all too easily forget...
I have low tolerance to a lot of sound. Loud sounds cause me pain, and so I avoid places where they are likely: road works, amplified concerts, a lively party room. When playing in a band I always used cotton wool to dampen my discomfort. A sneeze can hurt. I hide this in the company of others.
When I am quiet I hear ringing. At times my tinnitus is piercing but it does not impact on my ability to hear. When I work, am focused, centred, with a person, place or art, my unwelcome sound dissolves.
When expressing and sharing my experiences and ideas, I am mindful of a path that leads to self-importance, and vanity. This is difficult as what I communicate arises from what happens in and to me.
I cannot create an image without my imagination, I cannot dance without my body, I cannot write without my mind. I cannot do without my I. And so I value my self, yet I must be wary of my I that all too easily becomes the focus of a world which in truth is far more than I alone can be.
The Brain-Computer Music Interfacing system enables four severely motor-impaired patients to interact with a string quartet who choose musical elements that are performed live.
Technology matters when it aids life, when it helps us connect with another and the world, when it brings us together. I publish the related triptych and poem.
I have used technology to make music since my school days. I first used the Web in 1993, built my first website in the year 2000, and founded a software company in 2004. During my journey I have often considered the fragility of my digital achievements. My use of technology now is as a tool to create and publish work focused on experiences far removed from the digital. And yet I continue to devote large swathes of my life within the digital arena in the hope, perhaps ironically, of reaching those outside of it.
I wake as the silence of night is broken by the first hesitant call of a songbird I know well. There is no sound of wo/man, no distant car nor plane. I hear only the slow and growing swell of small feathered spirits as they come to life. As with humans, some birds are more tuneful, more colourful than others.
As I listen, closely, entirely new patterns of sound appear.
The value of my waiting is that I hear far more.
A broad, freshly furrowed, deeply ploughed field dips then rises to the horizon. I experience the newness of this landscape to my eyes as beautiful, its ripples of soil and shadow.
With beauty comes my ache to share.
I take photographs that no more than hint at my encounter. Nothing matches being there.
Art is often the effort and journey of return.
Instrumental music has the capacity to touch my heart, deeply, no matter my mood, my personal circumstance, my strength, my hope.
Music falls outside of meaning, yet is profoundly significant to me. It offers an opposing force to my incessant need to understand. With music I inhabit the same world as touch, as scent and taste: a world without language: the worlds of nature and the spirit, both worlds where I feel at home.
As I waited for a system update to install on my computer I set myself a challenge to make something using only my imagination. For me this is far from easy. Images and sounds stay no more than a moment in my mind. I thought perhaps I could make something with words, but not seeing or saying made it hard to ponder, order, and return to them. Making, at least for me, is inextricably linked with my body's sight, sound, and touch. My senses work in concert with my mind, and for art, I also need to feel.
I know this place, the touch of deer still silent eye upon the nape of neck, the unseen scent of fox rust-red and quick to ground, the softened littered leaf and gentle mossened brown, with pad walk certain slow upon this bed of dewy earth. Become, between the rise of breath my natured kin.
The woodland I have walked within for many years shares a fraction of its force of light and word.
I stand alone in the early morning light of an oak woodland with the scent of moss and the uninhibited sound of birds. I ponder on how its significance and value is different when I experience it with others as their scent, light and sound alters the very character of this place.
Beauty does not require many for its nature to be known. Perhaps the same is true of friendship, love, and tenderness.
Film composers often talk of the pressure to do as much as possible in the shortest time. While I recognize the dangers of procrastination, I only ever publish my work once I feel I can do no more to make it better. Even with this approach there are far too many occasions when I am proved wrong as I return to a piece, or after a longer pause feel a work falls well short of its potential.
Giving time is a gift: to others, to that being made, to the possibility of reaching a journey's end.
When it comes to how people act, most of what I do not or will never come to understand arises from those things withheld. I use no force other than my effort to communicate as I try to know why someone does or does not. While I yearn to know why someone acts in a way that hurts me, I respect their right to dignity: their privacy of body, home, thoughts, feelings, and identity.
With rights I acknowledge the prospect of my never knowing.
The result from my biopsy came through and I am fine. Living two weeks with the prospect that I was not, brought me a little closer to those who struggle to retain hope in the face of serious illness. Even with this short and minor episode of my unease the control I exerted over my concerns has left its mark. Rather than relief I continue to hold a part of me back. As I think more of this I realise how much of my art, music and words draw from those places of my self that I have tucked, so secretly, away.
I ponder on the first word of a poem: With Life, Love. I cannot think of life without with.
I complete an orchestral piece with the same title together with my thoughts.
The vessel of our thought, full with voice, The absence of all that moves,
A sign of doubt, Without,
A stitch in time too still to touch, too slippery to climb.
The zero of my world, The start and end of all I know or knew,
With thought's unknown yet certain guest, With love, the open ended view.
I have spent four days refining a piece of music to feel right before I begin its end. I listened over and over to reach the moment I felt I might start well. I had ideas about what might come, but in the fullness of time I was utterly surprised. It was like diving from the world of air to sea.
To dive is to be the moment of flight, the touch of finger tip to liquid skin, the pierce of body from air to sea. To get things done, I feel, I am immersed, as one with many. I absorb, I am, utterly absorbed.
I think of things I have or only ever will do once: I sail along an inlet with my old friend as water gently pats the side of the boat. I part from my love in a New York apartment. I greet a member of my family for the first time, a labrador named Sam.
I travel through this first of May but once. I breathe this breath before another, but once. With once I am mindful of the moment that opens as a petal leaf under the early morning sun.
In five days, mid-morning, I will walk into a small hospital room. A consultant will say a few words following the result of a biopsy and my world will change. I hope that change will be one of profound relief, but it may equally be to face head-on my uncertainty and fear. No matter the outcome, my intent is that my love remains the same. My love of people, of nature, of art and thought.
My joy, sadness, loss and hope live only in my now. How the past and future feed my now is up to me.
Distance: how far apart things are or feel.
Small things shift the distance I experience: a kind word, a thoughtful gesture, something shared.
I can feel distant from someone in the same room, yet close to someone a thousand miles away.
With art I feel close to the possibility of sharing the better part of me. For me, art is the antidote to the insecurity and dislocation of distance, near and far.
I am told I look too long and too intensely at others, but despite my efforts not to impose I find myself spellbound by the inner world of strangers, as by those I know.
People are my endless source of fascination. I am drawn to those things that lay beyond the shell, the furtive gaze, their tone of words, the truth of how another feels.
To uncover is to find. To find I have the chance to understand.
As I work on a new piece of music I listen as much to how it moves me as to its evolving beauty.
I stand outside myself and within.
It is the same for the making of images and the building of words. For art to work well it makes me feel.
I ponder on the value of my weakness. The weakness of my body, my mind, my frailty of self. Some are more straight forward to admit than others. Some are so deeply embedded they have become a part of my nature.
By acknowledging my weakness I take a small step forward, I appreciate better the weakness in others, and I counter the conceit and dangers of my ego.
My creative process relies on my insatiable need to return.
I am inspired by an experience or idea.
I find a time and place where I can begin, express myself instinctively, then stand back.
When making, most time is spent understanding, shaping, and refining what comes naturally.
Imagine two painters. The first has established a large loyal following and enjoys critical acclaim. Their painting is seen in a public place by many people. The second hangs their painting on their wall in their home. Each time the painter passes this painting they touch it, gently, and revisit their inspiration.
The significance of painting is often unseen.
I experience something that moves me, makes me think, and that I find beautiful. Last night it was a film. From the opening sound of a delicate string trio I am transformed and hope others feel the same.
Three of us witness a mother and child, their journey, loss, and love. I hold back my tears.
We reach the end. 'I am glad I watched it, but it did not work for me'. 'Oh, I loved it. And you?', 'Not really'.
Perhaps I do not share so readily for risk and danger to my heart.
Much of the time I search to say something simply, oftentimes I fail.
Some time ago I wrote the short poem 'With Life, Love'. Although this is a work in progress, I value its call to action and have given time and effort to its own place.
I view the poem as the title and all that follows, an elaboration:
I enjoy dreaming.
Influencing the characters, narrative, and place of a dream is a delicate matter. If I push too hard I wake and the dream quickly fades from view. To move what happens in my dream I have to let it flow:
When I paddle a boat in rushing water I change the shape of oars rather than the flow of the river.
When I compose, create an image, or write, the process is much the same.
I ponder on those things of most importance to me: those things that I come directly into contact with, and those things outside of me. I think of those and that I love.
For those I love, I think of my place and theirs in my life.
I think of those things that I love: art, music, words and story. Simply put, beauty and meaning.
For those things outside of me, I am free from the uncertainty and concern of self, and work untroubled.
The doctor had some concerns. I see a specialist consultant, I have a chest X-ray, a biopsy. It may be nothing to worry about. I should know within two weeks.
In this meantime I have the choice to focus on my dark uncertainty, or the beauty of light that unfolds outside my window. I can look inward, or outward.
I choose to walk under the great reach of sky before returning to my making.
For a few weeks I have had a sporadic dull ache just to the right of my lower sternum. I have thought it might be indigestion, my fighting off a virus, a muscular or skeletal issue, or perhaps something more concerning. As I can't seem to shift it I seek a doctor's opinion.
Anxiety is the counterweight to contentment. Despite my wish it was not so, unease brings balance.
Dreams: thoughts and the experience of place and possibility.
Dream now this chance between the sheets of day and night.
Dream the world as new,
Find voice and sight:
Idea: a concept. Concept: an abstract thought. Abstract: something that only exists in the mind.
I ponder on the short phrase I wrote yesterday: ‘Ideas change’. Can they? Do they? I think of the number 1. I think of darkness. I think of a person I know and love.
I speak only for myself, but depending on the context where I place ideas, each of them changes. It is as if an idea is a tree with many leaves. Some new, some old, some long gone, and some yet to come.
Change: the process through which something becomes different.
Change will always come. Physical, emotional, personal, societal. Ideas change. Rocks change. Change is the one thing certain to happen. All things confined by time are touched by change. I may embrace or deny change. I may seek to protect myself from change, but with each moment change is taking place.
Through change I try my best to love, unselfishly. Love above all helps me to face and weather change.
For those I love: May you be loved. May you be in love.
For those I do not know: May you be loved. May you be in love.
For those I have no common ground with: May you be loved. May you be in love.
For those who disagree: May you be loved. May you be in love.
For those who hurt: May you be loved. May you be in love.
When humour needs an explanation, it fails. I have fun during my time with others, yet humour plays no part in the visual art and music I create. Visual art invites scrutiny which counters the impulse of laughter. The funny soon turns to the bitter pill of irony and the funny is no more. Music can support humorous narrative but in my experience never causes laughter in isolation. Humour is the mild and surprising violation of the way we feel the world ought to be. Art is the search for how it is.
I think to comprehend, however I value understanding and feeling in equal measure.
More often than not my words convey my journey to make sense of, to elaborate ideas, and to articulate my experiences. At times with words I point to art and music, two mediums that routinely carry more weight of what I feel. In poetry I use words to think and not to think.
I think most alone and feel best sharing with others. My constant making is in search of this.
I found myself in conversation with someone from the world’s largest source of orchestral samples, the raw materials used by composers to create music. It was assumed, because of my work, I have a complex and expensive setup. When it was discovered I do not, the exchange dried up.
The words we speak or sing directly to others can be as powerful, emotive and affecting as anything produced on a sound stage using the best, most sophisticated equipment. Have less, do more.
My eye explores the darkened deadly beauty of a land on fire. Saplings stand amid the flame.
The purpose of social art is to use creative expression as a means of persuasion that has the potential to affect change. While this change may be as modest as to cause pause, or as great as to save life, the artist has no say as to the impact of their work.
When I feel at risk I often focus on those things that feed my insecurity. The same is true for groups as for myself. If someone acts against me, or seems to oppose me, I will inflate their smallest action that supports my view, past and present. I can all too easily think a person is bad, a people, wrong.
With any group of humans there is art, music, dance. As I gaze upon the art of a person or a people, art becomes my memory, the footprint of their life, their lives. Art shifts my position of hostility.
I work on images that emerged from my visit to the wooded area I spoke of yesterday. I find and feel nature as immeasurably powerful. I experience its strength to transform my inner world.
My hope is that expressing the beauty of nature gives pause and provides a context for reflection in times of careless impulse.
Not fifteen minutes walk from my home there is a young copse full with rust-red aspen trees that reach tall and skyward. Close by, as I look towards the low strong sun of a spring day, two roe deer graze.
In my work I try to advocate peace and argue against violence and war. Most often I will express my views indirectly as many dismiss pacifism as naive and ineffectual. These are the very people I wish the body of my work to reach most, and so I tread carefully as in a copse of crisp dry leaf and deer.
In my work I hope to convey those things of beauty and importance to me. With others I try to act well. I have made countless mistakes in both my work and with others. It is the nature of my being human.
The angel at my side is my ache to reflect on those things I express and do. It is my conscience that drives my future action, my spur to improve, my way to envision a force of good.
Although I do not follow a particular religion, I recognize the undeniable power and experience of faith.
For me, words are as precious as the breath between them. The space we choose to breathe informs their tone, their progress and their power. I add one comma and a break to make one line, two. With this the meaning of a poem holds firm, while making better the ease of its sound.
I often wish I could rerun a conversation with a friend or loved one. They could ask what I meant here and there, and I would do the same. A change of breath is all at times it takes to be believed.
I return to a short phrase I wrote yesterday that emerged as a two line poem from my experience of photographing a field of tall dry flower heads that spread far into the distance:
Worth all the scrapes and scratches, Walk through this field of thorn and seed...
At times it is not an image or words that stand well, but their union.
I listen to and work with many sounds not heard in a final published piece. These sounds inform my creative decisions, they provide invaluable inspiration and direction during the act of composition.
The same is true for my choice of light when creating images, words for written text, and those friends and strangers whose voices remain a part of me long after their leaving.
Music is made with sound unheard as much by sound I clearly note.
I sit alone in my small music studio at the keyboard and load my favourite piano library. It is not the most expensive, but for me, it is the most beautiful. I begin with two gentle notes, and as I hear, I play.
The order and strength of sounds emerge without plan. I play almost at the very moment that I hear.
Making music from silence is a magical experience like the unfolding of remote uncharted wilderness.
Treasured, the piece comes to a close, never to return. Played once I live my life...
When I see art or read words my immediate response is to the work itself. I feel first, then think. After I experience art and words that connect with me, I search for more by the same originator and uncover their story. What I find can change my feelings and judgements about the work.
The strength of what is said may swell or lesson with the knowledge of who says it.
With art, proof or its absence is magnified.
With people I hold back much of what I want to say but often say too much. With people I find conversations full with sub-text, doubt and need. My own and others.
When writing I can better state my mind and worry less about my awkward pause. When I write I judge the tone and gesture of my words more carefully, I interrogate their consistency and honesty with more intensity. Whether words are spoken or written, I cannot help but question them.
In a time of rampant contagion, the contribution of an artist, a composer, a writer, seems so very small in comparison to that of the doctor who cares for others, the nurse, and all those who provide practical support for the unwell. What small good can I do when others save life? The humble effort of those who create is to offer beauty, calm, and ideas. Each day I try to wake the world as new.
I love seeing. The experience of colour, mass and shape, of texture, line and movement is immeasurably important to me. I love light. In its company I am more than when I am without it.
I am not someone who imagines the world of light well in my mind's eye. If I close my eyes most of what I see is lost.
With eyes closed I ponder on the beauty that is sight.
I sing to release my inner realm of silence.
During a period when a pandemic casts its long shadow upon the human landscape, 'Birds Sing' reminds me of the world of nature, the importance of each voice, the joy of freedom, and that together, with song, we can better face the challenges ahead.
Art is not a scholarly text crafted to provide an unambiguous investigation, explanation, research, or argument about a particular field of interest. Art leaves things out and is often perplexing, enigmatic.
For those who prefer the unequivocal, art can seem deficient. My previous thought ends: 'When with, I search no more'. With whom? In search of what? Some bolt at the very hint of poetry. Others enjoy the disordered journey of the heart and mind that art evokes. Art takes effort. Art takes time.
Autonomy: liberty; freedom from external control; independence.
I move online without restraint from one place to another. I act and feel as if by choice. I read, I see, I hear. For the most part I travel according to my whim, and as I journey I take much, and give little. No matter the size, social context, or power of device, my practice online is as an unsuspecting sovereign.
My gaze is only disrupted by my need to be with others. When with, I search no more.
Body: a coherent material structure; something abstract forming a unified whole.
Mind: the internal, sentient place of feeling, perception, thought, will, and reason.
Every moment my body breaths, my mind works. Every moment.
At times I am aware, at others I am not. My being, my being alive is the confluence of body and mind, despite how preoccupied by mind or body I may be.
Much of my day is spent among the fragments of my memory. I think of those I have known, of those I have loved, and those I love. Close and far in time, I turn my small moments with others over in my mind, and as I do they meld with me, become a part of me.
Fired by word, sound, taste, scent, light or touch, memory is the food that keeps my feelings close.
I struggled to express a response to appalling events until news filters through about multiple acts of compassion given by passers-by.
The ability of mind that allows one to feel sadness when confronted with another’s despair is among our greatest gifts to love. Without this we turn away, or worse, harm without concern.
I wonder how much time I spend thinking each day. Thinking about my experiences, my feelings, about those things I am doing or will do. Thinking about my impact on the world, welcome and otherwise. Thinking about others and how to act, of those things I have to, or hope to do. Ideas take time.
I think less when in the company of nature and music. Sometimes, thinking less is good - my happiest moments are when I feel, and thought is far removed.
I live in a prosperous neighbourhood with abundant shelter, water, warmth, food, and good health. I have time to contemplate, play and work with those things that interest me. I live a comfortable life.
My capacity to ignore the distress and injury of others and the earth is sharpened by good fortune.
As I write, birds are full with song. They sing as the early morning air not only enters their fragile frames, but as it leaves. Birds sing with alternating lungs, some in harmony with themselves. Their songs declare forcefully, beautifully:
I am alive, I am here, hear me.
I listen to a traditional Nordic waltz. I love its simplicity of tune, of single voice and sounds that build, together. I am moved to tears.
Although I find music intensely plaintive, I take solace from its expression.
We humans are capable of such delicacy, and yet at times such brutality. It is music that always brings me back to what we can best become.
The school I attended had a grass field with a football pitch that stretched forever. Although I didn't have a passion for the game I liked to play with others and to loose myself far beyond the reach of bell. And so I would wait uncomfortably along with my friends, hoping not be one of the last to be chosen. It is clear to any child that selection so often comes down to politics and personal whim. When it was my turn to pick, the unchosen would come first which made for a game full with passion and grit :)
I contemplate the words of others in response to a piece of music heard for the first time. I am struck by how important place becomes a vehicle of expression. These imagined places reveal feelings for the sounds that reach within. Each place, personal, intricate, precious, and very different to my own. This difference gives me pause, as I think again about the text and nature of a work, now, not yet complete.
Composed as the pandemic of 2020 takes hold, music and art has the potential to give some solace to those who are unable to touch in times of illness and separation.
I can think of no greater pain than being apart from loved ones. Music, art, and words have the extraordinary quality of allowing the spirit to meet when the body may not.
I step out into the still blanket-grey of morning. I close my eyes. I breathe. I feel. I listen.
Outside, this everyday teams with life, with countless sounds of souls than all my years could capture, study, contemplate, and love.
I open my eyes, and there is more.
Art has the quality of presenting intimate experiences at arm's length.
For the audience, art provides a way to discover without risk. For the artist, art gives choice of what, how, and when to reveal.
People are careful about how close they get, how much they talk and touch. For some who are alone, art provides a path that makes real in mind and heart the world of others.
Much to the frustration of my school teachers, I sought to understand relationships and events through journeys of dream and the imagination. My mind was prone to wandering which was nourished by intense childhood experiences. Perhaps because of deep-seated need, I will not let things go until I reach a point of completion.
It seems I have a paradoxical nature: I am easily distracted, and yet utterly absorbed by a single task.
My son asked whether I view art as a means of exchanging knowledge.
In my desire to understand I search for ways to put things simply. It has taken a day to consider my response which I think is as true for art created by one person as by many.
I view art as a means of connecting one world with another. I prefer this to it being considered 'a means of exchange'. My experience of art is more than the acquisition of facts, information and skills.
I do not generally present comments beside those artworks I publish. Although this approach does not benefit my ego which is in constant search of affirmation, it allows what I say to speak for itself and for you, the viewer, to pause a little longer with your own unencumbered thoughts and feelings.
The greatest price of untangling my work from self-interest is that I limit the tremendous pleasure and gain I enjoy when talking with others.
The conservationist reveals, makes known, keeps from harm, is the guardian of those things cherished that feed the body and spirit. I conserve a memory that was my present long ago:
In the morning I wake with the dew of dawn and ride an old bicycle along the narrow winding roads of northern Tuscany. I am a speck in the undulating landscape of cypress, earth, olive grove and aged stone building topped with terracotta tiles. I live once more in land of beauty, sun, grape, and love.
I listen to many sounds and spend days moulding their tone and character. I tread carefully, slowly, as if I find myself in woodland and my slightest motion would startle the comfort of grazing deer. I keep myself in that secluded spot until I sense it right to move.
Building well takes time and place, real and imagined.
A politician is sacked from government for standing firm in principled opposition to his party. Dissent is the essential ingredient of progress.
Speak your mind, be strong in voice, be certain of your view today, disobey, stand resolute, declare your strongly held belief, despite the censure, rage and blame, be true to self with pride, with confidence proclaim.
When I write a poem I choose to rhyme. I write to plant pleasure with its tone as much as the discovery of its meaning over time.
The sound of words have been and will remain profoundly important to me. It is not just the meaning of words I value, but their flow and form, their rhythm, how they are said, when they are spoken, and by whom, in mind, or through the air. Words sound as well as mean.
At heart I have a spirit that will not yield.
I work when the time is right and value my creative freedom over financial reward. It has always been this way for me. My work is unconstrained by the demands of others. I express what I want, in the way I want, and when I want. My downside is that I work alone, intensely, relentlessly.
I work for love, for people, place, and hope.
I: the singular first person pronoun; myself, the speaker, or my imagined self.
Much of what I write here is written from this point of view. It is not always my point of view. Placing speech marks around the letter, the word, encourages me to think more carefully about its meaning.
"I" declares distance from me to you and invites your scrutiny. My hope is that by expressing my thoughts as I, you are more willing to come closer, and that "we" are given chance and voice.
I lie to reach my objective. This may be in the interest of myself, or others.
I lie to protect. I lie about my actions, my behaviour, and my past. I lie about others, I lie to myself.
I fail to recognise my lies and call them something else. I search for lies in others.
One lie leads to another.
The less I lie, the more in truth I gain.
I live on an island where the weather's voice is my constant companion:
The uncertainty of sky, the moving cloud, the changing wave of air, of sea.
On this morning, rain falls. Drops patter with the song of birds before they sink into the suckling earth.
Rain, like the artist, is defined by its falling.
Despite its scarcity I seek trust every day.
Trust requires the wish to be close, if only for a moment.
I trust when my hope in someone's honesty crosses the line of my shield of doubt and safety. I trust when understood, or in the hope I may be. I trust when I have not gathered enough to know for sure.
In trust I find my better self, but trust is far from easy to find, and far from easy to build.
I ponder on the word 'beside': by the side of; close to; overcome; apart from; as well as.
At times I think of myself as more the rain, as melancholic, but there are times I also feel to be the sun. Perhaps we are all at some point the rain that falls and nourishes another, and at others, the warmth that supports and loves. Beside the Rain, The Sun...
I write three entries for this day, one for each year. I do so, in part, so the reader may begin on any year as their first, and still move one day at a time through these thoughts, every year, without pause.
I write about a day that in my time has not yet come. For you, your day may be, have been, may come.
For nature, life, and those who use a different measure of the seasons, there is no added day.
As my winter comes I love each season on this day, I pause, a minute, I breathe, one moment, more.
Kindness: the quality of being helpful to someone in need without want of return.
We find ourselves in this world where we crash, one to the other. If life is kind, we smile, we eat well, we are warm and healthy. If we find ourselves in an unforgiving place, through misfortune, stupidity, or the action or inaction of others, life can be hard. Those who receive kindness, even those smallest of gestures, are also given hope. Hope in others, hope to continue. Being kind requires I set aside myself.
My world is full with decisions about doing, not doing, and undoing.
More often than not I take my time before doing with others. This pause sometimes leads to my not doing as undoing can be difficult, painful, and at times, impossible.
When I work creatively, I am more spontaneous and impulsive. My doing, not doing, and undoing are free and constant forces at play as words, images, or music are made.
I have used small movements to work on digital art for many years. Today I use a pencil and paper.
As I have little confidence in drawing I take a simple approach. I have a small, ring-bound black-faced pad with heavy weight paper, a 4B pencil, and sharpener.
The pencil leaves something of the earth and my gesture on the page - the tracing of my moment, the mark of the life I see, think, and feel. Perhaps we bond to art created by material things more readily.
I imagine myself in a room where I see nothing but a single colour. There are no objects in the room which is lit completely evenly: the colour is without gradation or shadow of any kind. I hear no sound. I see no floor, walls, nor ceiling. At first I experience this in my mind's eye as an uncomfortable beauty, before growing increasingly unsettled. If you decide on the colour, do you become the artist?
This is my wish: this idea is not art. An Idea may conceive an artwork, but thinking does not make it so.
I ponder on the nature of emotional distress: sadness.
Sadness is associated with loss or absence of some kind: of my body, mind, or spirit; of someone or something that comforts me or gives me confidence and strength; of love.
Sadness is also a tool that helps me feel the world of another.
Sharing sadness is an expression of hope. Hope that another can be with, rather than apart.
Composition, movement, colour, form and sound can in part be revealed through mathematics.
One of art's essential characteristics is that it is an expression, a conscious and proclaimed utterance.
A work of art requires an audience, whereas mathematics (ideas about number, quantity, and space), does not.
I ponder on different points of view, the worlds we make believe, and how time is often conceived of as a three spoke concept: the past, present, and future.
Each of my moments, real or imagined, is my chance to stay outside, above, in the open clear of day.
If I hold a thought inside, unshared, it moves to my place unseen, and once there, is rarely heard again.
I am drawn to words, images and sounds with more than one possible meaning. I turned the title of yesterday's thought over and over in my mind before deciding on it. On balance I felt its intensity, its provocation more likely to hold the reader. I hoped to use the strength of the phrase against itself.
The invitation to call me the enemy is followed by what I consider among my enemies: distrust, hate, and dishonesty. Although I have no control over how others read my words, I do over their choice.
Enemy: a thing that harms or weakens something else.
At times the thing most harmed is a principle. Take honesty as an example. If I am deceitful to those I know, if what I say is not truthful, I risk the prospect of friendship and trust. This goes for my personal life as much as for how one group or nation acts and communicates with another.
By calling you my enemy I sow suspicion and fear. Far better that I do not break, but build.
I return to work on the poem Breathe Deep This Dawn after reading the most beautiful phrase 'pushing up the sky with song' referring to the sound of two blackbirds in full voice.
At times I wish myself to be the bird, the song, the quickened early sight.
A single letter separates word and world.
No matter what my beliefs, my politics, my values, my hopes or fears, my word is only as strong as the trust you give it.
What and how I, you, and we say, makes the difference between us.
I watch a short film of a composer talk about his work. As the interview unfolds I hear clips of his music and see him in a large concert hall with an adoring audience. The composer references software and hardware of the company that has produced the film. This is as soft and subtle as promotion gets. So why do I choose not to do this? What is the harm? It comes down to trust and integrity.
I want my work to be seen, heard, and read unsullied, without hesitation, and with open arms.
Mystery: something difficult or impossible to understand or explain.
She is ninety six. I try to calm her. She is upset that her memory has failed once again. I tell her I have forgotten many things today. She feels a little better, less alone. She needs comfort and company - someone to sit with her a while. The mystery in her life is at times too great.
I talk about small things: the birds outside her window, the shadow, the sun. Her darkness lifts.
Creative conversations flow like music improvisation. Someone throws an idea into the mix, another picks it up, rolls it around then tosses it back. At times It is often not what is said, but how something is said that shifts the tone, and before I know I'm heading somewhere fresh.
Reading is a world apart from hearing someone speak.
I love to talk. I love to listen. Perhaps I talk too much, and so, I rarely talk out loud.
Large-scale works of art have no more personal significance over smaller ones. The scope and ambition of an artwork may increase its complexity and breadth, but size plays little part in its affect.
If I listen to a solitary voice sing a simple tune it can be as powerful, as beautiful as listening to a 120 piece orchestra playing a four movement fifty minute long symphony. One has as much value to me as the other. Large artworks are however always more expensive to produce, and may be sold for more...
Words give chance to share.
The words I write take time to fully form. I choose words carefully, slowly, and yet as I return to them their meaning shifts, their strength becomes less or more with the passing of time.
I write no more words here each day than can be said out loud within a minute. Their mystery is that they play upon my mind throughout my day, far past my conscious reading. Words compel me to return.
I wake to see a light covering of snow. Delicate, translucent, a soft thin skin of nature that melds as the warmer wet of morning greets the earth. I do not see snow often, and so I gaze, I wonder.
I walk out and hold the palm of my hand to face the last few lightly falling crystals. As they touch I feel their icy prick, their moment of change, the life of a snowflake end. Transfixed, I think the same as boyhood: I am the cause of this. I look up once again at the gently drifting sky.
Imagine you and I enter a lift where we hear the same sounds, see the same walls, and feel the same confined space. Even though we are physically close, our personal experience of the journey will be profoundly different as we each perceive in our own way, and bring our intentions, memories, culture, and character to that place. Difference defines us, even when it seems there is little to divide us.
I ponder on how difference is at the root of our strength to grow - genetically, culturally, and personally.
I have a choice when I hear news I feel strongly about: I can ignore my feelings and thoughts; I can vent - perhaps comment on news with others; I can submit my thoughts to a prominent publication - if successful I would reach more people; I can protest with others; I can donate to a cause.
I choose to make in the hope people will return to these things, and with the conviction that over time, a single voice can lead to change.
Violence: forceful behaviour with the intention to hurt, injure, abuse, damage, or destroy.
My efforts to create content for people of any age and culture has strengthened. I avoid expressing or condoning violence, although at times my work presents the consequences of it: sadness, trauma, poverty, and homelessness. Violence of any kind, of the mind or body, is the antithesis of love.
With over six hundred kinds of oak in the world, when you make, stand as an oak against the storm.
Pain is something I feel. There are certain kinds of physical pain I find difficult to shake. My only defence against sustained pain is through loosing myself: in a place, person, or activity.
When I view a painting of a person in pain, I am invited to feel empathy. The representation is but a weak shadow of the original intense experience. I look on, wince, or look away.
Pain is at its most when personal. Perhaps art, music, and language must also be so to convey it well.
When children find themselves by fine wet sand, one of the first things they do is to press their open hands into it. They pull back and look at something only they can leave. This is their hollow proof to change the world, the affirmation of existence at a time and place. I continue to enjoy walking bare foot on a beech of sand laid silky smooth by the falling sea.
In part, I make in hope the memory of myself is not washed clean by the coming tide.
I am faced with the choice of breaking or building. It is easiest to break. I can break the confidence of a person through criticism, break a friendship by not caring for it, break something I am making by giving up when it fails to work after the fifth draft, or when it seems not to serve me.
Being constructive, despite its challenges, leads me forward. I choose to build.
We live on a fragile and beautiful planet. We are but once. Unique. You. I. We.
There is one thing I do that matters, that builds a chance for our better world: love.
I enjoy a change of air to the stillness of recent days. The wind picks up from the south with the threat of gale. The sky shifts from the bright light-blue of north. High clouds, then low, start their push as pressure builds, the trees begin their sway.
Later, when the wind is at its height, I walk in fields, wrapped with nature's strength and beauty.
The number zero has long been a fascination to me. In the world I cannot directly experience 'nothing', and yet I think of the absence of something so very often. I enjoy the number two for countless reasons - sharing may only occur with two or more, and without at least two there is no choice but one. A number is the start of something more...
I spend the day working on a poem about the sounds I give and wish to give attention to. As I stand back from the poem and hear it out loud it begins its journey from the closed place of my mind into the world of tomorrow where it will be heard in the minds of others.
Art is a magical thing...
I have a powerfully independent spirit that is by nature resistant to the influence of others, despite my wish to learn from them. I did not attend university nor an art or music academy. I am not a member of a political party or a religious organisation. I tend to avoid groups as I find it difficult to be honest in them. I do not wear the clothes of an artist or an unconventional person. I do not wish for a solitary path as I so love being and sharing with others, yet I find the journey to uncover is so often a lonely one.
Politics: activities that aim to improve someone's status or power.
Some artists and writers express their protest frequently. Their audience expects their voice. My effort is to reach those I disagree with, as much as with those who share my views.
There are dangers to both approaches. The first may fan division and conflict, the second may be ignored. Artists and writers concerned with politics must make a choice, for their purpose is to provoke.
As I experience the deep of night and its gradual transformation into dawn, I am struck by its tremendous beauty, both common and rare. Each day brings something new: the sky, moon and stars shift, the air, the sight and sounds of life, all alter with each moment.
When I see something beautiful I have never seen before, I am easily captivated, and yet beauty so often surrounds me in my every day. My pause and gaze upon the ordinary is far too infrequent.
3D films are, once more, a thing of the past.
The pseudo approximation of our three dimensional experience and the failure to think carefully about its nature will stall its artistic development until the arrival of the moving hologram.
Our rich three dimensional experience is more than what we see. I feel 'in' a place not only because of my ever shifting visual focus, but as much by my sense and ability to touch, and my proprioception.
Silence: the complete absence of sound.
Be willingly silent. Being silent well takes time. We rarely come together in silence, yet when we do there is no mistaking its strength. Today some will share silence as they remember their loved ones.
No word can say, no sound nor light convey the sadness, loss and love on this our coldest winter's day.
Torture: any act that inflicts severe physical or mental pain as a punishment, or in order to force someone to do or say something.
Some believe torture works. I believe compassion is one of ten inalienable rights. It is not possible to be both compassionate and to condone torture. If I point a loaded gun at your heart and fire, you will die. That the gun works is not why I will never do this. Compassion is by far the stronger force.
Proof: the evidence and argument that establishes the truth of a statement.
Faith: the willingness and experience of believing something is or might be true despite little proof.
Belief: an acceptance that something exists or is true without proof.
Truth: a fact that in future may be overturned as new evidence and understanding comes to light.
Those things I value most are not easily proven yet undoubtedly exist: love, compassion, and beauty.
At times my self-confidence is high, and at others it is low. Although I do not enjoy the unrest doubt brings, it provides the balance to my certainty. People who make things repeatedly pass the fulcrum of their contentment.
As children we have little control over the constant flux of feeling good and bad, and perhaps because of this, when young, we tend to make far more.
I enjoy the creative process most when it is an unencumbered conversation of ideas and practice. My ideas are expressed with sound, light, and words. When for example I place a word before me, it asks something of me through its meaning, associations, and beauty. I experience this as a conversation. In this context the practice refers to how that word is used, and where that word is placed.
After I begin something it often becomes something else.
A day can seem a season in itself.
Depending on the temperature and pressure, water can exist below its normal freezing point. Depending on the dynamics and pressures of my life, I can persist without the normal comforts I enjoy.
It is not only its beauty, but rarity that ensures the intensity of my experience of hoarfrost.
Shortly after I wrote yesterday's thought I began to create a simple publication to cement my personal commitment to it. Speaking the single word love at the start and end of each day is meaningful for me. It gives my day form and purpose, when alone and together. Thinking silently is different, perhaps because when I push a word through my breath into the world I somehow make it real.
'Love', when said in isolation is my declaration, my pledge.
Language is the tool I value most. It is free to use by all. It is how I share the meaning of and in my life. It is my path to understand another's world. How else can this be said without its force?
Love: let this be my first word each morning and the last before I sleep.
A method to solve the problem of translating one language into another more quickly and effectively emerges. The solution converts languages from one to another almost instantaneously and was not arrived as a result of instructions by humans, but rather spontaneously within the digital sphere.
As machine understanding evolves, so The Rights of Living Things require our close attention.
Most of what becomes unfolds unseen.
When I hear someone sing without words my spirit is touched.
I am by myself, and as I play the piano a strange, magical comfort strays from the sounds that spontaneously emerge. Perhaps the act of creating music serves to heal.
Making music as it happens is a two way street, even when alone.
With Think This Today I share one thought each day. In doing so my experience of the passage of time has intensified. No matter what my effort, failure or success, the next day is quickly upon me. Those things I say and do recede swiftly with the challenge of examining a fresh idea so frequently.
What I do/not over time makes me different.
In my experience around one person in half a million thanks the originator of something that is offered without cost. I base this on observations of tens of millions of users to my websites over a twenty year period who have enjoyed free software, music, images and words.
Online behaviour is a more truthful indicator of human conduct as compared with the way people say they act in the presence of others. As you browse today, be rare, be one in half a million.
I work on words that accompany an artwork and struggle with the smallest change that makes a world of difference to their meaning. My challenge is to marry image and text to form a whole.
I try to shape the words to appear at first as explanation, then more richly to move freely between elucidation and metaphor. I listen more when what is said makes me feel as well as think.
One word can make all the difference: the force of art upon me. The force of heart upon me.
I ponder on whether art's purpose should be to change my view.
When I see a painting, is it more affecting if it moves me to think as well as feel? When I hear a piece of music without text or image, is my experience no more than the pleasure of its sound?
Perhaps art is always confined by what my heart invites.
It is a mystery of how an artwork connects so powerfully at a particular moment. I work on several images yet repeatedly return to one. Perhaps because of the beauty of its light and shape, perhaps because of its personal resonance. Perhaps it is good not to spend too long considering its attraction, but rather swim in its ribbons of gold and darkening blue...
I have used physical and digital materials to create music, images, and words. I compose and perform 'in the box', the box being a computer. I decide what, how, and when materials should best be used. I work with sound design and image software, recordings of acoustic instruments (sample libraries), and keyboards. The box provides affordable and effective tools to create and disseminate my work.
There is no weakening of the power or meaning of art because it has been created in the box.
I play the piano. I improvise. I have not the slightest idea of what will emerge. I let the music guide me to its place of rest. I listen, often in surprise as I have so much to learn, and for this I am thankful.
Play is at the heart of what it is to make.
I try to be open to the world yet careful of its risks. I have food, shelter and good health, and so this path for me is easier than for many. With love, the path broadens. With loss of any of these things, the path narrows and I pause.
I am most open when I trust, I close when uncertain. It is the same for nations as for you or I.
I listened for two hours to three prominent film composers in conversation. They described their work as having to create against the clock, compromise, deal with unreasonable and inarticulate people, and coping with feelings of uncertainty and rejection. I was struck by the similarity of their experiences with those of commercial designers I have known.
When the creative act is little more than craft and local politics, art is impaired.
I wrote poetry, painted, and composed as a child. Whether these creations were any good in the eyes of others was of no concern. Perhaps this was in part as a result of my being fostered from the age of one and a half. I had no say over who cared for me, and not the slightest idea why my life was so precarious, but through art I had the means to find my voice in the chaos.
Art is personal. Its function is to discover and express. Its purpose is to be absorbed and to absorb.
My art, music and words have little or no impact on my immediate family. When I share my work it does not move them past a few short words. 'I like it' is the most that is said. It has always been this way.
When people do not experience the world as I, whether strangers or those I care for, there is no fault. We see things differently. We return only to those things we love. Love cannot be forced, it is not persuaded, we feel or we do not. This sadness, my difference with those close, drives me to express.
Know: to be aware of.
You read my words. The more you take in, the more my world is known to you while you remain unknown to me.
My trust is in the value of what is said. If what is said moves your mind to thought, you may return unknown in search of knowing more.
As I hear I become. For all the words I write, music needs no thought.
To be well: to be healthy in body, mind, and spirit.
Caring at its most beautiful is for something or for someone other than myself.
With music, if I am open, I hear, I feel, and I become.
Whether social, physical, or psychological, there is a limit to the tension I can comfortably tolerate. Art, music, dance and drama allows me to explore that limit through its discord. The experience of art can cross the boundary of our discomfort. In performance art and film it is however difficult to withdraw, and perhaps this is one of the reasons why we think carefully before attending.
Life without disagreement, a life of only harmony is sickly sweet despite its comfort and safety.
Simplicity in art: uncomplicated; easily appreciated; an experience of clarity and beauty.
Much of my creative effort is spent trying to make things simple. I try to untangling the words I write, the sounds I make, and the light I arrange in an effort to express myself well. ‘Well’ being in a good or satisfactory way, and as aligned with wellbeing: the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy.
Simplicity invites the eye to see and gives the mind the chance to grasp.
I have a choice: I can make something that has the potential to encourage acts of kindness, or I can ignore the moral impact of my efforts and seek only financial, social and personal gain.
Perhaps my enjoyment in the act of making, my opportunity to express and its sensory pleasures should be enough reward. There is however one more most important thing: I make to share, despite the uncertainty of how much will ever be returned. Making is my act of hope.
I dedicate my work 'Daybreak' to Billy, a student of philosophy and literature who died suddenly.
Whatever our darkness, daybreak will unfold...