19 March 2012

Two Images

Today's (penultimate) assignment: Two images that describe your life right now.

Via Ken Keller's Fractal Art Gallery
I'm walking. The path is steep, and only wide enough for one. Below where I'm walking is another path. Someone is on it too. The further we walk, the more the lower path falls away, the more distance there is between me and that other pilgrim in the wilderness.

In my mind's eye, I can picture some of the things that lie on the low road. They aren't good things. There's darkness and trouble and giant, looming monsters. The thing is, I'm fine where I'm walking. This is my path and I know it for what it is. I can't do a damn thing about that other place.

I recently made a huge shift in my life. I can honestly say I never imagined I would be in the place I am right now. This is not something I've blogged about because there's the potential that I'd be airing dirty laundry. (I'm doing it here and now because I'm pretty sure none of the people I'm avoiding mentioning are familiar with my writing alias.)

I chose to split from a group I've been a part of for a very long time - more than fifteen years. I made the shift because that group went in a direction that is not positive.

There's a lot of cause here for bitterness and accusation, and I know the other side has been actively cutting loose with slagging me publicly and often. Lately I've been working on forgiveness. That means accepting that the path I've chosen is not compatible with the way the group has gone. It also means that I accept that whatever issues the other side needs to work out, it is their right to do so, even if it's not the way I would have chosen to do it. I can't stay any longer, but going my own separate way means I don't have to judge or condemn or witness the tragedy. It means I'm free to do my thing, and they're free to do their thing.

The Ploughman from Hans Holbein the Younger's Dance of Death (1523-6)

Lately I've been feeling like the most important thing is just to keep working at the things I want to do. That includes moving toward goals but also shifting things on a physical level so that they work better for me. I'm using the image of The Ploughman from Hans Holbein the Younger's Dance of Death series of woodcuts. The image of the farmer toiling in the field is full of spiritual significance. It binds the idea of good, basic hard work with the idea of moving toward the shining city of the New Jerusalem in the background. Here, the skeletal figure representing death aids the Ploughman. In the other woodcuts of the Dance of Death series, he's usually mocking people and leading them into danger.

The Drunkard from the Dance of Death

I don't identify as Christian, but I am open to and love Christian iconography. To me the idea here isn't a simple "work hard and you'll go to heaven," but rather the idea that focusing on the essential things you need to do in the course of a day is a way of drawing down paradise in the here and now. It's hard, but it's lovely. The use of the plough as a symbol of hard, worthwhile work has a long history. It's one Tom Waits is pulling on (har har) in "Get Behind the Mule."


Mark K said...


I hope you do not mind, but I've nominated you for a 'Versatile Blogger Award' - the details can be found on my site ;)

Cynthia said...

Your first excerpt made me think of that Robert Frost poem, about the two roads...

Selah Janel said...

I love these and I identify a lot with what you said. I've been in a similar position you were talking about with the first picture - although mine dealt with a very bad relationship and that person's social circle but yeah. At some point embracing forgiveness and walking on your own path is the very best thing you can do for yourself.

And I have to agree - I love the romance of the every day. There are no guarantees but there's loveliness and magic in the littlest aspects of the day to day. Or as lou reed sings 'there's a little bit of magic in everything and some loss to even things out'

Traci Kenworth said...

Sometimes it's hard to continue on our path, but when we observe the other, we know we've made the right one.

Elizabeth Twist said...

Thanks, Mark! Much obliged.

Elizabeth Twist said...

Thanks, Cynthia. I guess I'm not going on the road less traveled so much as the road heartily disapproved of by people I formerly respected, but you know, tomato / tomahto.

Elizabeth Twist said...

Love Lou Reed, Selah. Thanks for the quote. :( on the relationship and the social circle fallout. I've been there too and it's uncomfortable at best.

Forgiveness and compassion are it. I'm trying to find a place where I can feel those things consistently.

Elizabeth Twist said...

Amen to that, Traci. Better here than there.