Deep Blue Waters ...
Life Running its Courses
Summer is on its slow wind down now and with it the memories of quiet days and joyful moments as the Wheel of the Year prepares to make a quarter turn towards autumn. As sure as the seasons change so too do the currents of our lives. Like water, we are in constant motion, moving steadily forward and overcoming obstacles but hopefully ‘pooling’ occasionally to rest before gaining momentum once again.
Water Mandalas from my Water Essence Series
The Headwaters Region where I live and make my art is so named because it is the source of four major river systems - the Nottawasaga, Credit, Humber and Grand rivers have all shaped the beautiful rolling landscapes of the Caledon Hills. These ‘headwaters’ or springs from which so much life and vitality originates is one of the reasons I was instinctively drawn to this area. Shaw’s Creek, a tributary of the Credit River, flows right outside my studio window at the Alton Mill and is a constant reminder of the beauty of this most vital element. The sound of it bubbling and frothing over the rocks and rapids is natural music to the ears … is it any wonder that so many of my mandalas feature watery blue and aqua colours spinning in perpetual motion!
Some of you may remember from early school days a movie called Paddle to the Sea, the story of a little hand carved man in a canoe, set down on a frozen stream by its creator to await the spring thaw. The film then follows the adventures that befall the canoe on its long odyssey from Lake Superior to the Atlantic Ocean. You can watch the full movie here on YouTube. I have always loved it and its premise of something unique and original being brought into the world only to be surrendered to the forces of Nature. And what adventures that little canoe had! Sometimes it was smooth sailing. Sometimes it got stuck. Sometimes it gut-wrenchingly went over waterfalls like those of the mighty Niagara. But always it kept moving, accepting whatever happened to it, learning lessons, growing stronger along the way until eventually it came to the big blue sea …
The profound message of the little wooden man in his canoe is literally about how to ‘go with the flow’, how to navigate life with grace and maintain balance by finding right relationship with ourselves and the world around us. It also reminds us that when something takes us out of our ordinary routine – such as rapids and other water hazards – it can make us suddenly see things, people and situations with new eyes.
There are all sorts of journeys we can embark on but many wise sages have proposed that the longest yet most profound is the one from our head to our heart … so what better metaphor than water to represent the challenges and joys of that particular passage? Whether it is witnessing a situation that is out of our control, being on the receiving end of another’s volatility, or dealing with our own emotional turmoil, what keeps us going on often treacherous waters is developing the deep realization that ‘this too shall pass’. My mother often gently offered these words whenever I found myself in an especially bleak situation because they remind us that all conditions, positive or negative, are only temporary. Many more wise words have also been spoken about how without a few dark episodes in our life we would never be able to recognize the brightness and joy of the positives.
Acceptance, humility and gratitude, like water, are qualities whose aim is to follow the path of least resistance. Gradually, over time and with practice, the waters of life erode lines of wisdom into our faces, our hearts and our souls and it is those very ‘water lines’ that build our character. Each of us is etched with our own personal experiences of the raging torrents that have threatened to drown us, the calm harbours that have given us temporary shelter, and the wide lazy rivers that allowed us to drift easily for a time with little effort.
To cultivate grace and acceptance is to cultivate the understanding that there are times we can only stand by as helpless witnesses, times when our only response to another’s rough waters must be patience and compassion while their storm passes, and times when we must forgive ourselves when inner churning seas threaten to capsize us. We are each captain of our own canoe-of-life so therefore ultimately it is up to us - and only us - how we choose to navigate the inevitable ups and downs of making our way from one port of call to another.
When life’s waterways get rough, sometimes the only way to keep our little canoe moving forward is to either keep rowing or simply lie back, float and harmonize ourselves with the deeper underlying current that is at the very core of our existence … when we recognize these eternal truths, the wisdom of ‘just go with the flow’ makes perfect sense.
My fall workshop schedule is now posted at www.dancingmoondesigns.ca so be sure to check out what's upcoming and reserve your spot. A great way to start ‘seeing with new eyes’ is by learning to draw. You don’t have to have any art experience to enjoy my ongoing drawing classes which let you play and experiment in the calming atmosphere of my studio. I now offer Zen Doodling as well, so please join me on September 26 during The Headwaters Arts Festival and Culture Days for an introduction to this wonderfully meditative past-time.
Here's to clear sailing as we round out the summer.
May you enjoy the dance!
Artist & Healing Arts Practitioner
Dancing Moon Designs
Illuminating the Creative Spirit ...