For one month, I wanted to see what would happen if I reached for pencil & paper, instead of for my devices.
This journal is an account of my time from June to July 2017.
I found myself present again in my own life.
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The trouble is, we’ll never know. We’ll never know what is lost in the moments between the pings, the tweets, binge watching, and the impossible parades of comments and virtual friends that steal the seconds in-between. We’ll never know of the missed richness of unexpected conversations, the stories unwritten, and the genius lost.
Life doesn’t happen in major acts, or scripted scenes. Life is the stuff in-between. The unseen, the unheard, the unappreciated nuances that stitch together the big moments. I work hard, and I love what I do. I find myself blessed and cursed with a mind that doesn’t seem to rest. As a result, I don’t dwell on the past, but I also don’t much live in the present. My mind wanders and wonders, living miles away from my physical body. Such a mindset means that I live in the future, thinking always of the next project, next painting, next story; next everything. I can’t imagine that I’m alone in these thoughts. And it’s in this perpetual state of being on, that we miss being in. In the moment. In the here. In the now. In love. In a conversation. In attention. Simply in. This summer, I headed out with a team of creatives into the wilds of Zion National Park with the intention of disconnecting and reconnecting. I watched as relationships formed between this diverse group of strangers. It was my role to facilitate the details, as I could, from contact to curriculum. Somewhere in this act of doing, I lost myself in the role of administrator. My body was there, but my mind was floating somewhere else, in some future tense.
For a moment, on the tail-end of a humbling hike, I scrambled away from the obligations, high above a pristine emerald pool, in the cool shadows of heat tempered rocks. I found myself, sitting there. I mean, I deliberately labored to find my way back to the moment, willed myself into that time and place and looked again through my own eyes. The act wasn’t outwardly extraordinary, but carving out that moment, I felt my legs weakened from the hike, body sweating from the heat, and my lungs pulling in the oxygen around me. I wasn’t must alive, I was living. I took pencil to paper and in that simple act, documented the moment. Of course, I failed, as artists and writers always do, when confronted with the overwhelming. But, the moment was not lost. My moment was not lost. Free of mentoring and concerning myself with the group; that particular moment was taken and it was mine.
At weeks end, I returned home, to my wife and my children. I shared pictures and stories of deep canyons, new friends, hidden swimming holes, climbing red rocks and adventures from an alien world.
For all of their attention, all they truly wanted was their father and husband back. To be held and to hold. In those moments, my heart was full with new stories and loved ones to tell them to.
This particular richness that is born when we are away; when we travel; that rawness that we feel in the absence of our daily rituals and those simple acts of affection that go unnoticed and unspoken at home, they are bittersweet and beautiful.
More and more, our intimate moments are lived through tempered glass that put us at arm’s length of these incredible lives that bleed into one another in the most significantly, insignificant moments. And as routines do- routines took hold and my mind again began to wander.
Revisiting my journal from Zion, I was confronted with that moment of awe that I experienced in isolation. There is an investment of time and labor in a drawing that requires an awareness and presence in a moment that snapshots miss. I longed for that awe. That awakening that I felt in the desert- that simple, willful act of being present. Aware of my breath. My life. I longed for the feeling of being there- not for the towering cliffs or bottomless canyons, but the celebration in a singular moment of vivid, technicolor awareness. And I nearly missed it: The right now.
So I chose. I chose flesh and blood over pixel and ping. I chose awareness over ambition. I chose pencil and pulp over my devices. For a month, I deliberately chose to embed back into my own life. I chose to be present with my everyday people and I found each extraordinary.
The attached images and video are a record of my time with people, places and things familiar, from late May to early July, 2017*. Through daily practice, my drawing began to flow again like handwriting. I believe it to be personal and honest in its authenticity.
Most importantly, I found myself, once again, present in my own life.
(*two of the pages were worked on again after July.)