Sunday, August 03, 2008

Ponder this Sunday :Bramwell

I am quite taken with the DVD's of the Masterpiece theatre television program Bramwell. Eleanor Bramwell is a doctor in the late 1800's in London. She runs a free hospital for the poor. She herself lives in a large Victorian house with her father, also a doctor. Eleanor falls in love now and again but the love interests always come to naught. Her dedication occasionally wavers but she always returns to "The Thrift," and tending to the poor. People die, medicine was a very different matter then than now, so I can't say the episodes end happily necessarily, however I always feel uplifted after watching one.

All my life I have cycled around these two things: tending to others and tending to my own creativity. At times, I have worked in hands on situations with the elderly and with the mentally ill. Very low paying jobs, but with the sense of tending to others, helping them make their way in the world in very humble ways. At other times, I have spent much of my time either writing or crafting, totally "self-indulgent." In the past I found it hard to combine these two parts of myself. I either did one, or the other.
Currently I am living with my 90 year old mom, my brother and his dying wife live on the same property, and my newly diagnosed with lung cancer Ex lives nearby. Mom is quite independent within the home. I cook meals, drive her around, keep an eye on her. My SIL is quite ill and failing right now, a bit more each day. My main help with her is to fill her bird feeders, and visit and listen. And the EX, I don't do much with him but visit. In fact, I don't do much with anyone but just "be here." I am able to also do some painting and craft work. So I guess I am combining these two parts of myself. But this is the first time in about 25 years that my physical presence is serving others. Previous to this I lived alone in my own little world.

Sometimes I feel I would like to make a larger contribution to the world. How, as an artist, can I contribute to the larger world, contribute a soupcon of peace and comfort to others? This desire goes way back to college days when, upon graduation, I wanted to join the peace corps like organization we had here in the US. I applied and they told me to reapply when I was more mature. (Humph). I still have not resolved that issue of a larger contribution.

How about you. Do you feel your art, poetry or prose writing is gift enough to the world? Do you feel you want to do more. How can that more manifest in our daily life in a concrete manner? What are your thoughts on this?


Annie said...

Art has always been my life, but I sometimes feel that pull to service. I do think art in itself is a service of a different kind. What would life be without beauty?
Art speaks to the soul and uplifts. That is a service to mankind. One thing I do, is I visit an elderly man in the neighborhood just to let him know I care, and I have been known to rescue dogs and cats :-). I feel you have to do what you are called to do and art and writing is what I am called to :-).

sukipoet said...

Annie, that is so beautifully said and I so much agree. The artist is giving beauty to the world. Speaking to the soul, uplifting others. You are right, it is a service of a different kind.

So lovely you visit your elderly neighbor. So often, I think, the elderly are isolated and forgotten, in part because they can't get out as easily and meet the world. Oh, you have a soft spot for dogs and cats. I know that well although I've mostly rescued cats. thanks for your thoughtful answer Annie.


Sometimes I think that the "just being there" is what we are called to do. I didn't have this opportunity with my own Mom,being the child living out of state.I often felt really bad about this, as there were so many things I'd liked to have done for her. Things such as you do for your Mom. Little things,,,that often mean so much, (your pie) as well as the bigger things, re: transportation.That's the 'giving back' for what they did for us when we couldn't do for ourselves.

Very few people recieve the opportunity to make much impact on the world at large,,,creatively, or otherwise.
As long as we are tuned into gifting of ourselves in our own small worlds, whether it be in service, or in creative endeavors,it's what we can do, and it's enough.
I think of the quotation: "You may not mean much to the world, but you mean the world to someone"

And what gorgeous photos again!
You are amongst much beauty there, and you share it so well!
What is the tiny blossomed white thing? It's so delicate,fragile,lacy looking.
And the other, is it Sweet Pea?
(I know so little)

Cris, Artist in Oregon said...

Interesting post today. I have taken care of my Mom for a few years during illness. But I also did my art. hmmm good thinking post so thats what I will do.. go ponder it. :)

sukipoet said...

Babs, that white flower is Queen Anne's Lace or wild carrot. It is one of my favorite wild flowers. Great to press too. the other does look like a sweet pea, wild it would be, but I dont know for sure if it is.

Well, you are probably right. If we do the best we can in our lives, with those around us, tending as the tending is needed, that is probably the most we will do and it's no small shakes. thanks for your well-written and thoughful response. I was 5 hours away from all these relatives for many many years and it's only because, I think, that i have no husband nor did I have a job nor own a home, that I could pick up and move here to do this tending now. Be well, Suki

Cris, I think people who are married probably have more a sense of taking care of another, than I did in my last 20 plus years since my son became grown up and living away from my home. I lived what I consider a very selfish life only for me, well of course I had friends I helped out when needed and so forth, but not on a daily basis as I have now and as married folks have. Thanks for your thoughts and input. Be well, Suki

marianne said...

Hi Suki,
Again a beautiful post with much to ponder about.
While reading it, lots of things came in my mind, but I had to think strongly of Yin Yang all the time. In your own litlle world you did one or the other , but now both, the yin and yang are together .
Of course we want to contibute something make a small difference in this madness called life.
When I was young I had also dreams about contributing but also selfish actions. In my life I was always searching for balance, and still am sometimes. Sometimes the yin and the yang are meeting and making the perfect shape of balance sometimes I'm lost.
My art is just a drop in the ocean, but without drops there is no ocean. Sometimes I make people happy with my art. I love the contribute with these little drops to the ocean.

Love >M<

sukipoet said...

Beautifully said, Marianne. I like that idea of the ying and the yang sometimes working together, sometimes separately. And the drops in the ocean that make up the entire ocean. Each one of us contributing to the whole of life on earth during our time here. Thank you.

katie jane said...

Suki, you do so much for so many people. Florence Nightengale. You deserve your personal time to rest and create art, and you do that so well. I can't say it any better than Babs. Your gift to the world is the giving of yourself.

You mentioned "The Lawrence Tree" on my blog. I am not familiar with that painting. I will look it up. I love trees, all trees. I feel so minimal when looking into a tree, yet so empowered.

Debbie in CA : ) said...

Art? Service? Care? Smile? My life has been a dance of balance -- life is art for me. There's joy in my journey beside my husband caring for children including "special needs" children, homeschooling, housekeeping, smiling at a downcast one in the grocery store parking lot, singing to a frightened child, writing to a lonely friend, taking ingredients and supplying a feast, lighting a candle to lend romance ... and on and on the list goes. When young I wrongly assumed "art" meant a product to be purchased and/or admired. I wrote incessantly and called it art though it carried life.

Now I am older and far further down the path so I celebrate the journey and all the events along the way as art. Neither pain nor sorrow nor challenge can extinguish the joy that comes from within. My life is art. Circumstances forced me to live in harmony with all that came my way (bidden or unbidden); God showed me the way.

Your questioning post caused me to pause and ponder. What a gift you have given me. I do not believe I have been here before, but surely I will leave a marker and come to see you again. : )

Mim said...

I wish I knew the answers.

Patti said...

Both art and service to others takes a good chunk of your energy, so I guess it's not surprising that you have been doing either one or the other.

I have done volunteer work twice: Once in a local art gallery, as shop assistant and helping the public get around the gallery. The second time was with the Salvation Army Op shop, processing donations, cleaning, shop assistant etc.

The first was purely selfish because it is a beautiful gallery with a tranquil Japanese garden beside it and I just loved being there. The second was very hard work, extremely rewarding and I really felt as though I was contributing something to the community.

Both times I wasn't also engaged in being creative. It sounds to me as though you have your hands full at present and your creativity must be quite a release for you.

Mary Richmond said...

a very thoughtful and well written post once again, suki. you are in a very interesting and thought provoking time in your life, being challenged in many ways and being asked to be present for so many difficult transitions in the lives around you. it is good you have your art and writing, i think.

for me, coming to the realization that my work here seems to be about sharing what i feel is a very direct connection and empathy with and for nature. i do it through my columns, my art, my teaching. i'm very lucky in the way it has all come together in the last few years.

sukipoet said...

Thanks Katie Jane. At times, my thinking mind says, "You aren't doing enough." But then I can ground myself by the statements I read in the book "Women who do too much." They went something like this: 1)today I______________(fill in the blank, washed the clothes, took a walk whatever) 2) and i am satisfied and 3) and that is enough.

I have several art books of Geo O'Keefe's work which is where I saw "The Lawrence Tree." A really cool painting.

Welcome, Debbie in Ca. Thank you for your thoughtful response. Life is art. I do agree wholeheartedly. All the things you write here that you do to tend and care for the world around you, they are large things and glowing with care and respect for the "simple" everyday things that we do in our daily life. Glad you stopped by. Be well, Suki

Mim, I wish I did too.

Patti, thanks for sharing your experiences. that art gallery sounds so lovely. And the Salvation Army interesting and challenging. Sounds like you are a little like I have been in the past, when being "out" in the world is good and fine but then there is no emotional perhaps (for me anywya) energy to paint and write.

For me in the present moment, i am feeling grateful that i can do the artwork right now, and yes it is a release and maybe an escape from the sadness that pervades the people I have contact with up here. Not that they themselves are necessarily sad, but that i feel sad when faced with them and their dilemmas.

Hi Mary. That's wonderful that you find so much solace and inspiration in nature and also that you realize that is a central focus for yourself. so good to hear things have come together for you in the last few years. This sounds enriching and healing.

Thanks for you well put thoughts on my situation. Saying it is a "time in my life" gives me a sense that at some point things will change, whereas sometimes it feels to me they won't and things will go on this way forever, even though at this point in my life I know that is not factually true. Thanks Mary. Take care, Suki

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

When you create something you never know what impact it will have: poetry, paintings, songs - its what gets people through the bad times and reminds us that there is more.

Every life has an impact on those around us. I'm sure that your energy rubs off on your friends and impacts on them in ways that you will never know (the butterfly effect)

Sometimes we do get caught up in the Me rather than the We - not always a bad thing. We can;t live our lives for other people - but that shouldn;t mean we cant spare the odd moment here and there...

sukipoet said...

Welcome Dont Feed the Pixies. You know, you say that so well. And it is so true, that we can't know the impact our work or our person has on others. Years and years after I have made something and given it to someone I have gotten feedback on how they framed it and still have it on their wall and things like that. These feedbacks make my heart flutter with gratitude.

Maybe this is another cycle in our lives, inward to the self, then outward toward others, then inward. And maybe during each of these cycles we are having impact on others in different ways. Hmmm, you have made me think, Pixie. Thank you for your insights.

Lynn said...

First I want to say that you are doing a lot in your life in helping others right now Suki.
"Being there" for others by "listening", "sitting", "supporting", is A LOT and sometimes the most giving thing you can do for another.

Then I thought I'd mention that people our age still do join the Peace if that dream still lingers there could be opportunity there for you and might take you to some interesting places. Which could result in more things to write about and inspiration for more art.

I personally satisfy these needs in my "career" as a counselor. I do a lot of listening, some guiding, and I do receive the reward of being told from time to time that my work has helped in a big way. To me that is huge and very satisfying.

As for my art, I guess the biggest pleasure I give at this time is to my grandchildren, who seem to like what I make them whether it's a knitted sweater, a crocheted blanket, or a little quilt for playing with dolls.

Will my art ever reach a larger audience? Will it heal, uplift others? I'm new at "putting it out there" for others to see, so time will tell. In the meantime, it feels a healthy thing for me to do for myself. It brings me great joy to create and see my creations come to form.

I never dreamt I'd have my own art hanging on my own walls and be enjoying living with it as much as I am today.

sukipoet said...

Lynn, what beautiful words and thoughts you have written. Thank you for acknowledging my own being there life right now. And thank you for sharing your two selves, the self that guides others, listens and cares and the self that is newly into creating beautiful things. And admiring and caring for your grandchildren and receiving back from them the glee they have at receiving what you have made for them. Thanks for the "tip" on the Peace Corps. I am not sure that i still want to do that sort of thing, but if I decide I do, well I shall surge forth. Be well, suki

Elizabeth said...

Hello wonderful Sukipoet!

Thank you for stopping by, and for sticking with me over the past months. Super Duper lovely to hear from you!

Your blog is looking WONDERFUL by the way!

Yes I need to ponder this a while...hhhmmmmmmm.....

Honour said...

Ah Suki. What an incredible relevant post. It is amazing how your questions *resonate* with the questions I ask myself.

I am like you - I seek to help others and yes, I feel my art, essential to my spirit is somewhat self-indulgent as well.

Interestingly enough, this past year working at a community center for refugees, I found that never before has the work of "giving" been so inspirational for my creativity. Yes, I didn't have enough time or energy to create!

I have found ways to use my creativity to contribute to my other passion for work in the community and vice versa ... but it is indeed a difficult balance to find. As in my own postings, I believe telling the story can make a change in people's hearts and then, maybe in the world.

thank you Suki for these thought provoking posts!

Anonymous said...

I read a parable the other day that speaks to this question. The bee, as it goes from flower to flower collecting nectar, has no idea the contribution it is making to the entire ecosystem...even making human life spreading pollen.

We have no clue how far-reaching our small acts are.

Some days I feel I do almost nothing of value in the world and then I'll get an email from a young person in Australia saying my blog made her feel less lonely.


sukipoet said...

Elizabeth, good to hear from you once more. I missed you. Thanks for the feedback.

Thank you Honor for your thoughtful response. You know, when I am "out" in the world, I do gather a lot of inspiration for my creativity. But if it is a job i'm doing out in the world, I tend to not have the energy to also manifest that creativity. My creative ideas remain dormant, until such time as I can "withdraw" a bit and focus inward. Although I had one job with three days off each week and I was able to write quite a bit in that configuration. Honor, it will be interesting to see how your new business and creative endeavors manifest in the upcoming year. Good luck.

Kelly thanks for returning with that wonderful story. I love that it is about the bee also, which I consider an insect that does contribute so much. That's wonderful too about the surprise response to your blog. You are so right, we just can't know the entirety of what we are doing as we draw our nourishment from the flower and spread our pollen. Thank you, Blessings Suki

human being said...

Suki the beautiful thing about you is that you are doing a lot for others both through your physical being and your spiritual being (your art and your writings)...
some artists do not have a considerate character and cannot give much to the world... even through their art...

just consider this post as an example... see how you've inspired good thoughts... and your photos just makes our souls soar...

reading you and watching your artworks... is like rain... some is absorbed immediately and some is stored in underground layers...

for me... there has been times that some words by you... some point in your life you've talked about... or one of your artworks has popped up in my day just to guide me or to warm my heart...

love to you...

sukipoet said...

Human Being, I do blush. That is me you are talking about. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You are so eloquent and your words bring me warmth and inspiration. Love to you, Suki