Settling the mind

After the excitement and exposure of an exhibition, it always takes some time and  solitude to settle the mind and heart back down to work.

The energetic period immediately before a show is all deadlines, printers, finishing, perfecting, and then reaching out and making a lot of noise – ‘look at me! look at my work!’

Thankfully this show just past – all drawings and engravings –  at Beaux Arts has gone better than I dared to hope for,  so the ‘coming down’ the other side of the roller coaster has not been too bad at all.  Still I’ve been aware of needing to consciously retreat and settle.  Walking daily I’ve had to turn and re-turn my mind to my surroundings.  Bringing it back from excited external flights to; what can I smell in this wood? What is underfoot? What can I hear?  Crows – a tractor – my own footsteps –  my dog Daisy snuffling and splashing through a culvert – a wren’s wingbeats….
Settling the mind takes time and the deliberate choosing of a certain amount of seclusion and routine.  John McGahern the great Irish writer once said; ‘you need a good, boring life to be a writer.’

So I turn as ever to small things and close observation.  Staying still and ‘letting the ten thousand things come to me’.  And….this is what came:

‘Pigmy Shrew and Red Demoiselle’
Dry-point engraving on Aquari paper 9″ X 6 3/4″

(The demoiselle I found in the lane, and the pigmy shrew was bought to me – as have been so many treasures this year – by my friend and neighbour Claire Collier.)

Do you have the patience to wait
’til your mud settles and the water is clear?

Can you remain unmoving
’til the right action arises by itself?

Lao Tzu

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