Thursday, August 8, 2013

Shadows and Light

This is a photo of a very ordinary hedge that is beside a very ordinary road. The swirling lines, and restless sense of movement reminds me of paintings by Van Gogh. I wonder if Van Gogh would have noticed this hedge and its shadow if he had walked the same road as me, or if he would have walked quickly by, loaded down with a box of paints on his back, and a canvas under one arm? Further along the road, there are dark Macrocarpa trees that might have appealed to him more, or he might have painted the stunted alder trees near the lagoon, with a flock of geese beneath them. Who knows?

Some days, I may have walked past this too. I wonder what it is that causes us to stop and really look? What is it that makes us say "Ahh" and provides the magic that compels us to take a photo, or write a poem, or paint a picture? What happens to us if we go through life without experiencing that compulsion, or if it fades away? Vanishes? What then?

I have been struggling a bit with depression lately. It can be a bit like having a head full of cotton wool, and eyes covered by something that filters out the magic and delight of what we see. It is like going through life as an observer only, not a participant.

I did some reading years ago about autism, no doubt everything has changed now, but I was interested to read that it was believed that autism was due to the mind becoming overloaded, and that the condition tended to manifest itself just after a child begins to speak. With the acquisition of language there is a flood of new stimuli, the world suddenly becomes a larger, more complex place, old boundaries tumble, and information swooshes into the young mind at a phenomenal rate. Some minds cannot cope. A fuse blows, the light dims, and the child withdraws.

Maybe with depression the mind is shutting down to some extent, because life is perceived as being too difficult, the mountains unclimbable, the rivers too swift to cross.

One thing that has been of great help to me through this has been my weekly physiotherapy appointment. I realise that physiotherapy is mostly concerned with the body, but the half hour sessions have been good for the mind too. Having someone "external" to visit, who could objectively measure physical progress week by week, is enormously valuable. When you are caught up with an injury, it is impossible to really measure your own progress. I also greatly appreciate being able to say how things are for me, and be listened to and gently encouraged.

I do a 2 kilometre walk most days now, and am starting to find that really comfortable. My next challenge is a gradual return to the studio. I managed an hour in the studio last Friday, and I hope to do a little there each day from now on.

This photo of the lagoon on a sunny day, is so different to the photo that is above it. They are the same place, this one in sunlight, the other under a thick, grey sky, as the song says;

"What a difference a day makes
Twenty-four little hours
Brought the sun and the flowers
Where there used to be rain"

I am sorry the blog dried up. It is kind of you to have stayed in touch and to have written in to ask how things were.


srgb said...

You do write the most thought provoking blogs Peter so much said in so few words.
You must have give that back of yours a real jolt, the silver lining is that you get to do all those 2km walks, give us those wonderful pics and you get that half hour individual attention ahhh.
I detect something nice about growing older, to compensate for the aches and pains we gain a wealth of wisdom.
Go Easy Peter

Christine said...

Peter, good to read your blog and find out how you are. That feeling you describe of being an observer, of a kind of negative detachment many of us will have experienced at some point or another. You are good with words and maybe it helps to put it on paper. I hope that gradual improvement to your physical health will enable you to reconnect with your identity as potter and painter. Your photographs are beautiful. It is strange how one suddenly sees things in a different way. Coming down the stairs yesterday I just had to take a photograph of the amazing light on the floor tiles! All the best.

cookingwithgas said...

OH, breathe taking.
And, mind taking- this I understand as I feel this that sometimes my mind runs off and leaves me befuddled.
Your words and pictures show that some of us see more than we can express.

smartcat said...

Priorities, Peter, priorities. Right now it's important to get yourself back to health.
Even though you aren't potting you are giving us wonderful photos and words.
The blog should be the least of your worries; we're here when you post and you'll post more when you're ready.

Arkansas Patti said...

You do have such a talent to see. Many would walk past those lovely scenes and only be concerned with the destination. Wonderful captures.
I am so sorry you are still incapacitated but happy that you are making progress. Surely being kept from your creative passion is the cause of the depression.
Keep up the good work on your therapy and I am glad you can get in those nice walks.
Soon Peter, soon

Judy Shreve said...

Love these photos -- and it makes me wonder how someone like Van Gogh would see it -- would he stop to paint or rush by . . .

Sorry to hear you are still dealing with health issues. I think you are doing all the right things to get yourself through these challenges - physiotherapy, walking, talking about what's going on -- change is hard. We have to adjust what we present and take from our environment.

You (and Laura) are in my thoughts. Sending you both big healing hugs.

Armelle Léon said...

Beautiful photos Peter, I don't know how your are able to express your feeling, I am not and have the same one. Your words sound true. Happy to know that you are going back to the clay, it is a therapy for the soul.

Hello to Laura and Nigela Stopit

Peter said...

Hello Bob,
Good to hear from you, thank you for your thoughtful comment. I liked what you said about "something nice about growing older", so often people only come up with the negatives, along the lines of, "we can't do this now that we are X years old", but I have noticed some things have shown signs of changing for the better. It is a bit like climbing a hill and gaining a vantage point over the landscape that you have passed through, and the ups and downs of it all start to form a meaningful pattern.
Best Wishes to you, P.

Hello Christine,
Good to hear from you, all the way from Sunny Scotland! You said something rather profound, about how the return to health "will enable you to reconnect with your identity as potter and painter". It certainly has been quite a strange time really, prior to the accident almost every waking hour revolved around clay, and firing things made of it, then all that stopped... and there was a vacuum to fill. I must say that I felt far more "complete" as a person when I got back into the studio yesterday for a little while, and I am happy to report that I made a couple of things on the wheel.

Hi Meredith,
Lovely to hear from you. Words and pictures can never say it all really, but they get some of the way.. I wonder if music gets closer sometimes?

Hi Smartcat,
Wise words indeed, and priorities are so important. Acheiving the little things one step at a time does help a lot. The blog is a good thing though, and I must make time for it. I do appreciate the friendships made through it.

Hi Patti,
Thank you for your kindness, it always comes through in your comments and your blog.

Hi Judy,
Change is something that we certainly have to learn to do. Some things have been hard, but I must say that there have been some good and positive things about the last few months. Reading books has been one of them, and learning to sleep better has been another! The healing hugs are greatly appreciated!

Bonjour Armelle,
I am sorry that things are difficult for you too. I do hope that the summer sun reaches you and you have healing for that foot of yours, and tourists to buy your lovely pots. Kind thoughts to you from us all. Lots of purrs from NS

Linda Starr said...

Love the shadows of the first hedge on the road and the moody clouds and reflections, the little things keep me going and I hope they can do the same for you. I hope your ventures back into clay are smooth and refreshing and renewing.

Angie said...

I am so sorry about you having to cope with depression but it sounds as though you are winning. Interesting thoughts on how the brain is working re depression and Autism. Although Robbie has learning disabilities he is alo waiting for the final test results on whether he is autistic too. For the first 4 years he had a bad beginning and never spoke a word ...within 6 months of being with us...good food ...and attention he was putting many two word groups together. He still doesn't talk as an 8 year old should but when stressed or excited he cant cope with clear speaking but playing on his own or when happy and safe his speach is very clear ...interesting re your thoughts on over load.
Your photos are amazing ...I love all .. for many different reasons. I am sure you could create a painting of the first. xx

Teresa Evangeline said...

I want you to know I'm thinking of you, and I so understand what you've described. I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the world, even the beauty we see and want to share can leave us feeling this way. I have also thought of autism and that feeling of the world offering too much stimuli. I've had to get a lot more selective in what I allow in, and filter out as quickly as possible what doesn't offer peace and contentment. It's okay if we learn to do this. The world we see now is more man made than Spirit made, it seems, and we must get back to Spirit if we are to feel at one with it. imho. Best thoughts to you, Peter.

Sue said...

It would be sad to not stop to 'see', and therefore miss the magic.
It happens, and then something brings our attention back to the beauty in front of us.
The contrasting photos of the lagoon could symbolise being under a cloud of depression, where things are dull and grey, and then the magic of coming back into the brightness of a sunny day, when we come out the other side.
There is a certain beauty to the dark cloudiness, however.
There is the promise of brighter days to come. Hope is present. :)

Peter said...

Hi Linda,
Good to hear from you, sorry for the slow reply, but I have been fixing a computer over the weekend so my brain has been filled with zeros and ones! It will be interesting coming back to clay after the long break away from it, I am hoping to be far more creative and less stressed by deadlines this time around.

Hello Angie,
Interesting about Robbie, I do hope things work out for him. I have no real knowledge at all regarding autism, but did some reading about it because friends of ours had an autistic child. I do know that there are many "shades" of autism, from those who are terribly affected by it, to those who are remarkably gifted. There are always stories about remarkable mathmaticians or musicians who are autistic, but for many life can be a great struggle.
I did read about some good work that was done in Norway with autistic children. They were given a very special education in a carefully controlled environment where they felt safe and not overwhelmed, and many made great progress. In New Zealand there seems to be a big push towards "mainstreaming" where people with all sorts of difficulties are put into regular schools. It is a bit "one size fits all" in approach and is successful with some, but others have a very tough time, as do the parents.

Hi Teresa,
Lovely to hear from you, sorry I have not been in touch for a while. Thank you for your thoughts regarding man made and Spirit made. I think that you are very wise to be selective about "what you allow in". It does seem a good idea to make home into a little oasis of peace and goodness, and several big steps removed from the clamour of mass media, advertising, and shocking global events! I must one day actually read all the way through Henry David Thoreux's Walden, I seem to always have dipped in it in the past; his was an interesting experiment in living simply and in a way that was somewhat (but not totally) cut off from the rest of the world.

Hi Sue,
Good to hear from you. I remember having a bit of a bleak time quite a few years ago, and one day (my birthday) going for a walk amongst our trees, and finding the first plum blossoms shyly peeping back at me. It was like a Divine birthday present that morning, and it helped me to see good things again, instead of just blindly passing them by. It is amazing just how important little moments like that can be!