Living the mythic life
Mary Moments

Ripening like the trees

Mother Nature by Terri Windling

"Perhaps we should strive towards mythological resonances in our lives," suggests Ben Okri (in his essay collection A Way of Being Free). "Among many possible images, a human being can be seen as a tree: We should reach out for more light even as we reach deeper into reality for a more solid hold on the earth. We were not born with one eye, with only one thought in our heads, and with only on direction to travel. When we look out at the world with its multiplicity of astonishing phenomena, do we see that only one philosophy can contain, explain, and absorb everything? I think not. The universe will always be greater than us. Our mind therefore should be like Keats' thoroughfare, through which all thoughts can wander. It should also be a great cunning net that can catch fish of possibility.

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"Maybe our minds should be sensitive to the vastness that lies behind all reality, should be open to the winds and whispers of infinity, and should be able -- by inkling and intuition-- to enter the hidden realm of the blazing Tyger, the Robin, the Eagle, the Unicorn, and our mysterious humanity. How can we, in the presence of irreducible being, view life from only one perspective -- the Cheetah's, or the Tyger's, or our own? We have the gift of overview, the tower of Imagination. We can place many perspectives side-by-side, we can even inhabit them simultaneously.

"In art a complex experiment (if fully realized, and regarded as if natural) is but a sign and a prayer to the greater glory and sublimity of our secret estate. It is a celebration of our terrestrial intelligence, our spiritual yearning, and the irrepressibility of our mischief and joy."

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Sycamore Fairy and Friend by Terri Windling

"Everything is gestation and then bringing forth," Rainer Marie Rilke reminds us (in his gorgeous Letters to a Young Poet). "To let each impression and each germ of feeling come to completion wholly in itself, in the dark, in the inexpressible, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one's own intelligence, and await with deep humility and patience the birth-hour of a new clarity: that alone is living the artist's life, in understanding and in creating. There is no measuring in time, no year matters, and ten years are nothing. Being an artist means, not reckoning and counting, but ripening like the tree which does not force its sap and stands confidence in the storms of spring without fear that after them may come no summer."

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Detail from ''Mother Nature'' by Terri Windling

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Tree fairy sketch by Terri Windling

A Way of Being Free by Ben Okri and Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria RilkePaintings & sketch above: "Mother Nature," "Sycamore Fairy With Foxy Friend," and a young tree spirit.

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