Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Life in three dimensions

It's a struggle whether or not to talk about the fire yesterday at the 7-Eleven just a few blocks from here and the young girl who died or find something more positive. It's always hard to deal with a young person's death, so much possibility and promise gone in a flash, but to know that I heard the sirens and was so intent on work that I didn't even blink is a little surprising to me. I don't chase ambulances or fire trucks, but they have become so commonplace since I moved to the city that it's like a callus worn over tender flesh. It's hard to feel through it. I'm sad for the girl's family and for her friends, but unfortunately -- or fortunately -- it's all part of life. To dwell on it is to miss the best part of life and that's living. Does that sound callous? It's not meant to be.

So many times I get lost in the day to day minutiae of cooking, cleaning, dishes, eating, work and the usual round of chores, so much so that I forget to step outside and just breathe, drink in the sunshine and languish to the sound of birds and children playing. Yesterday when I went out to check the mail, a group of children were sitting on the school steps, on the ground and a couple in chairs and on the short retaining wall with big sketch pads on their laps. Some faced each other, but most of them faced my cottage, sketching like mad, recording the scenes in front of them, freezing a moment or a feeling or both in time and they made me long for a sketch pad and charcoal or pencil or pastels and to just sit in the warm sunshine and feel the flow of nature in my fingers as I sketched and shaded and drew.

I miss drawing. I miss being able to pick up a pencil and catching the expression on an interesting face or feeling a brush moving across a canvas leaving a trail of color, light and shadow behind as details coalesce and become more real, more there, just more. I used to spend hours painting and drawing, lost in a world of color, light and darkness where everything made sense. A line became a curve and a curve defined a face or a momentary smile. There was a sense of order, a cause and effect that resonated. Even a chance drip of paint or a shaky line became part of the whole, a quirk of imagination that lent subtle charm and depth to what could have been a wooden, static representation, and the faces that emerged on the page or the canvas were more than just pictures, they were the essence hiding in the eyes and behind the sardonic smile. They were three-dimensional. Eyes followed and smiles changed from moment to moment. They breathed.

And I wonder if somewhere in an obligatory art class the girl who died in the fire yesterday is captured on paper or canvas where she too breathes and lives.

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