Nature can astound me with perfect scenes that deeply move my artist’s soul. These aesthetic occurrences are so powerful, I think of them as visual poetry. At their best, poems offer special and intense experiences of feelings and ideas that incorporate distinctive styles and rhythms.
On a walk, I discover that a rain storm left this lovely arrangement in a street gutter. To me, it looks like a distant vista of desert hills covering many square miles. In reality, this little patch of sand and debris measures 10″x10″. I dearly love desert landscapes that move me to my core when I behold their ethereal beauty. Their sacred spirit overcomes me, even in miniature near a grate over a drain. This gives me hope that perhaps the parts of me I sometimes feel are rubbish – such as internal name-calling, “you idiot!” – have an innate beauty. When I’m able to self-reflect later, I correct my mental mistake and see a larger, lovely pattern of my ability to learn something new, overcoming frustration at the time.
Some of creation’s double whammies are pure delight like this lime green gecko resting on red bamboo like a Christmas ornament. The bright color contrast seems dangerous for the gecko, making it an easy target for the io (Hawaiian hawk), pueo (Hawaiian owl) or manakuke (mongoose, a type of weasel). This counter-intuitive color arrangement is part of wild wonder and adds to its urgent poignancy.
I know what it feels like to be a target. A boss once decided to take over the art department I chaired in a college, and replace it with a business school. He tried every nefarious trick he could over two years to eliminate the popular art classes and requisition our studio spaces. During those years, I fought my impulse to escape from the aggressive man. My experience as a target became very stressful, more like a hamster running on an endless wheel rather than the relaxed gecko.
I call out to the little lizard, “Run, gecko, run to a green spot that hides you.” But the small reptile seems content lounging in the sun, so I don’t shoo him away. In reality, I have no idea what’s best for my beautiful reptile friend. I’ll assume he knows how to take good care of himself. At last, I simply stand and quietly gaze with a little inner anxiety and a lot of joy.
Mother Nature can make me laugh, like these beautiful sandstone rocks that appear to be a big fish about to gulp a small fry: sublime slapstick, but profound. How often have I felt overwhelmed by a dominant personality and became a door mat, symbolically allowing my personal integrity to be swallowed by an authority figure like a parent, boss or partner? More often than I want to admit. Because of this character defect, when I look at these random stones, all at once, I see myself and let out a hoot of laughter. I feel grateful for seeing a difficult part of my temperament in a way I can recognize and even enjoy.
In each of these surprising moments, the scenes around me spontaneously provide intense feelings and insight, using visual color and rhythms to stimulate and teach me. Natural poetry.