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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Chop wood, carry water.

Today is a cold day here in Southern Colorado. The morning brought with it a fog which turned out to be a freezing mist, or micro-snow of some form. Any work done in the studio would require me to start a fire.

When i got into the studio this morning i realized that all of my water was frozen and so i was going to have to carry water from the house out here to the studio if i was going to be polishing any stones. I will then warm this water on the small 1950's U.S. Army stove . . . once i get that fire going.

I'm a little low on firewood this year as the inspiration to install the little stove in the studio came late in Autumn and i had not prepared a supply of wood. I have been going through the supply of wood from my little greenhouse, (mostly used for warming the gathering of friends during the winter celebrations) fairly quickly. I enjoy the task of making kindling and starting the fire, it is a somewhat mundane ritual rich with memory for me.

Today this all reminds me of an old Zen saying, "Before Enlightenment chop wood carry water, after Enlightenment, chop wood carry water." Chopping the wood and carrying the water, tasks that are not always fun, especially when the fingers are cold and stiff. These things at first seem like mundane tasks, work that is not as fun or satisfying as the making of art. But these things are just as important, and are in fact, part of making jewelry, not something separate.

I could easily fall into a loathing about the parts of my life which seem like "work" and be dreaming of being somewhere else warmer and doing something else more satisfying or fun.
But the truth is, that when i do these other things it is all part of the whole of my life. I try to be mindful that what i am doing now is every bit as important as any other part of my life's work.
Without letting my mind wander too far, I need to be grateful for all the circumstances that put me where I am that moment with that hatchet in my cold hand and that water in the bucket on its way to the studio.

When i look at some pieces of jewelry, I can remember the day i made some of them. I can not only see the stones and the story of my acquisition of them, the silver and the process of metal working, but also the chopping of wood and the carrying of water.

When I am open to the awareness of the mundane tasks in my life and how they are connected to my artwork and my intentions, those tasks become lighter. When I am able to be in the moment, I no longer feel compelled to watch the clock or dwell in feelings of resentment for the work at hand.

Wood is chopped.

Water is carried.

Life happens.

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