All night long I dreamt of perfect craft-makers whose flawless work imitated life better than life itself. Wonderful constructions of puppetry and shadowplay and weaving. But all their beautiful creations made me unhappy – I felt like a failure. I felt I should be one of them but when I told them of my work they always turned away from me. Then in a room at the side I saw two young men at work – they were my sons in the dream. They were painting the walls energetically, good-heartedly. There was nothing craft-y or pretentious in their work. I felt at home again.
I pondered over the dream and what it could mean. The temptation is always to take a dream at face value and conclude that the people in it represent real people you know or real groups. This would be easy for me as someone who has never found it easy to fit in or to live up to perceived expectations. But at heart I’m only concerned with what is realistically and energetically truthful. I want to form a union with it. I’m not a Michelangelo, whose heart and hand and eye are already so perfected they can create a ceiling more majestic than the sky itself. I want to join myself with what’s been emptied out of color and hope – the winter trees, the fog, the midnight frost.
It’s only by patient and honest perseverance – youthful good-humor – in meditation, art, poetry, spiritual endeavor that the real ground of creation appears: the true foundation of the world. Perhaps Michelangelo had to go through this as well. Perhaps a holy dissatisfaction lay at the root of everything he attempted. I believe this is true. But we should not feel burdened by false ideas of perfection – by impossible attainments which will only give you the cold shoulder if you try to measure yourself against them. Just paint your room.
Paint Your Room
No buttonhole to wear, no corsage on the trees;
no shadowplay – no sun, no woven light for warmth.
Slow to rise and tired from work my hopes won’t marry
accomplishment, but paint their room with silent strength.
I don’t care for perfection in a craft at all
unless it bears its heart and gives it as a gift
in all simplicity, and equal to the fog,
the maiden frost, the empty trees shy with love.
So paint your room and watch as sunlit trees appear
in forest blue and hopes like red deer jump to life.
If heart and hand and eye were magic powers from birth
then why dissatisfaction, holy to the core?
Complete yourself by rising to a union first
with what has emptied out creation from its soul:
the unascended year, season of winter’s veil -
the images by which we’re made will shine like stars.
Best wishes, today,
Image: Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo
© Landar 2012. All rights reserved
You are welcome to quote from Light on the Page on the condition that you cite the author and the source: Author: Jay Landar. Source: www.lightonthepage.com. For other permissions please contact the author.