WITHIN THE MEADOW, acrylic on canvas, 20×16
THE HARDEST TASK is the simplest: doing nothing at all. Arms and legs like pistons, tireless as a hummingbird I drink nectar from the past while flying toward the future, blurring field and forest.
Enigma: the effort of effortlessness — not walking to expend energy or see the river’s rise; not hauling brush or kneeling among the daffodils; not lifting pen to paper; my mind flipping topics like pages of a book before settling down, no longer beholden to what I’ve already done or need to do in some other time and place;
no longer thinking about people I know, the war; cereal or toast — to be in the moment, everything must go. Standing still as a heron summoning my sharpest senses, breeze scraping rusty cheeks, I slip inside the landscape.
* * *
AS A CHILD I loved to play and reveled in its opposite: utter idleness. A desire to simply stay outdoors, aimless, gazing at the empty sky on my back in the meadow, hands laced behind my neck, chewing on a sour stalk; wandering to the ancient oak no one knows, staring up its mammoth trunk an inchworm, running fingers through its crusty hide.
Burdock balls clinging to a careless sleeve; eddies swirling downstream; pungent earth and apple mint and moldy leaves. Hearing, not listening to a white-throated sparrow and solitary black fly. Distant peepers coloring the night.
* * *
LIKE SISYPHUS I roll my activity into a ball and push it to recall what I knew as a child about the gift of being in one place free of distraction, attuned to the cosmos. Peering down the purest well I drink, resuming purpose as if rising from the deepest sleep.