Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Kia Ora

The Māori have an idiom: See further than your eyes. Māori warriors use this tactic to bolster their spirits in preparation for battle. The idea is to take in one's surroundings and draw strength from the deeper meaning of some objects. For instance, I can look out the window and see Birddog parked under the tree - just a truck parked under a tree. But, for me, it's a symbol of freedom - I draw strength from that freedom.

The sky isn't just the sky, but a symbol of the vastness of this universe, and a reminder to me that while I am merely an insignificant speck in all the flotsam, there is an infinite interconnectedness that makes me part of a bigger picture. Think pointilism - take away a single dot from a Seurat painting, and the entire picture suffers the loss. I draw strength from that sense of union.

When people (those brave and privileged few) walk into my studio, they see a desk cluttered with stuff - computer equipment, ink pads, stamps, containers holding colored pens and pencils of various sorts, glues, tape, glitter, books, notepads, brushes, and tools. My focus always lands on an old enamel tin cup that holds a collection of markers. It's the cup that Grandma brought with her on the boat. I draw strength from it as a symbol of courage - the courage that comes in facing the unknown, in taking a chance on what may be rather than what is. I also see, and draw strength from, an ancestory of tenacious individuals that has lent itself to my existence - the dots in the painting that made way for my dot. Ultimately, I draw strength from another woman who never gave up; a woman who met everything in life, good or bad, with a bemused "Vell, vhat you gonna do?"

Take a look around you today. See further than your eyes. Find a symbol of strength outside yourself from which you can draw and nourish your inner warrior. Make it a daily practice - I plan to.

Kia kaha.

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