Saturday, October 17, 2015

Embracing John O'Donohue: Echos of Beauty Part 1. Finding 'John O'Dono'

This marks the first in a little series I call: "Embracing John O'Donohue: Beauty and Light".
There is so much wealth in his words that I'm falling over theories and new ideas and presence that it feels like a self-help seminar but without any of the rah-rah, and just the prismatic determination of truth and choice.

A friend forwarded me a link she thought I'd like. That was when I first heard his voice and thoughts in a podcast released by: Krista Tippett called : OnBeing- The Inner Landscape of Beauty.   It's an hour long, and life-altering. I highly recommend carving the time to just listen. Multi-task, ( I did) or sit privately and focus solely on this genius and incredible way of viewing life.

When I listened, I was stoked! I had plans all ready to travel to hear him speak, or take a "master class" or whatever it was I could find on Google. That was the plan, until I found out he died in his sleep in 2008, at the age of fifty-two. I was truly sad someone like that could go so fast, and it brought on resonating loss of my dad's too-early death at fifty-four. 

Both men, I thought, had so much to teach and offer and yet, I was indignantly skipping along my life path without any concern for learning from others with such knowledge and well-ruminated ideas. I'm embarrassed for myself and yet just grateful to be discovering so much now, while I can still at least try to understand more, execute and maybe teach my kids a few things.

Chances are my own children will be skipping along thinking I'm the idiot and by then I'll be somewhere else.  If I can leave some words in the ether or on paper for them to find when the time is right, I'll be elated. I'm elated now that it's even a possibility.

That same friend gave me many gifts, some in forms of lessons, mirror-projections, truth bombs, but the dearest of them all, was John O'donohue's "Anam Cara." 

As my obsessions go, this one is big. I am learning so much from his wise and contemplative words. As goes my belief of "books choose you." I feel found by John O'Donahue. I am on book three and it has reshaped the lens with which I see everything. How can you not devour and love a book that starts with the following:

"Humans are new here. Above us, the galaxies dance out toward infinity. Under our feet is ancient earth....Yet the smallest stone is a millions of years older than us. In your thoughts, the silence universe seeks echo."

Before receiving this book or having heard of him I made this painting and photo-quote:

I'm sure it's a silly stretch, but I do love synchronicity. My absolute favorite quote (from the prologue) is:

"To be wholesome, we must remain truthful to our vulnerable complexity. In order to keep our balance, we need to hold the interior and exterior, visible and invisible, known and unknown, temporal and eternal, ancient and new, together.  No one else can undertake this for you."

*closed eye-deep sigh.*

So that book looks like a personal college text of mine now- marked up, margin notes, written in-coherent thoughts cover it's pages. Then, I started and finished: "Beauty- The  Invisible Embrace" as an audio book (so I could paint while listening.) I can't lie.  I really love his velvety Irish cadence and the pronunciation of words like "Aura" or any word with a "C" or "K" makes me want to hug him in a fisherman's sweater.

“Beauty is not the mistress of nostalgia or avoidance, she is not flimsy….if you come into relationship with the beautiful, then you engage in the full wonder, depth and presence of your life.”

“One of the lovely things about graciousness is, that it leads to a lovely balance between truth and beauty. Always when we hear that ‘ beauty is truth and truth is beauty’, we always seem to give the benefit of the doubt to truth, and that it’s more important than beauty. *And you know... if you take beauty away from truth, truth becomes dull. It can become heartless, and a blind imperative which can reduce and really damage people. 

*This sentence is said by O’Donohue and then he paused at exactly( 1:11:11) – wow.

I feel anything but beautiful lately. A messy life, guilt-sandwiches, lost epiphanies and every time I think I have something about myself figured out, I get a jolt of self-effacing awareness that starts the whole process over again. Perhaps that is why these books move me.

 He carries the thematic understanding of "Beauty" in all it's forms. Simple beauty, complex emotional beauty, musical and artistic, subjective beauty are all investigated with this benevolent white-cottony acceptance. Acceptance is so underrated. (TRUE acceptance.) I may not know much, but I know that.

I took this picture one morning two weeks ago. In a parking lot of my son's preschool. After hearing John O'dono, I started to see beauty anywhere. That is reason enough to read him. 

He even shares a plethora of  wisdom from so many others that I'd probably never look up, find, or then investigate. John O'dono is my "gateway guy" to all these incredible philosophers and poets and mystics. 
This one in particular is one to live by.

 Four sentences: 
A quote of  William Stafford's explained in "The Invisible Embrace" by John O'donohue.

1.     The things you do not have to say make you rich.
2.     Saying the things you do not have to say weakens your talk.
3.     Hearing the things you do not need to hear, dulls your hearing.
4.     And the things you know before you hear them, these are YOU, and this is the reason you are in the world.

Now that, if I think I can understand it properly, is priceless. If I never read another word, all would be worth it for the prologue and those four sentences. However, I did and will continue to devour all I can find so I share the following with you as well. 

“Your friend becomes your midwife to your own emerging sense of soul.”

“The true beauty of a person glimmers like a slow twilight, where the full force of each color comes alive, and yet blends with the other colors to create a new kind of light.” 

“There’s that kind of native generosity in it (beauty)…The gift of your own majesty and wonder and profundity.”

“Beauty demands proportion and balance, and when proportion and balance are neglected than beauty actually disappears.”

To round out my meandering love-gush for new perspectives and Irish accents, I come to the Sphere and the circle. Like all philosophical questions, mine came during a doodle-session between paintings whilst listening to a portion of "Beauty- An Invisible Embrace" that talked about time, eternity and concepts of such, as circles.

When I looked down, I had this....thing.

I should have failed geometry. I don't truly understand dimensional drawing. I just wing it, mostly, but when my mind faded into that "Netherland" of listening, my hands made spirals. The question I asked myself as a greater question about life is:

"Does the circle (if it could) know that it's part of a sphere? Is the sphere superior to the circle because of depth? Can a sphere exist if a circle did not?" 

No, I'm not high. Maybe it's a laughable question, but there is yet another little diamond of perception vs. reality that I am waiting to bloom within my vastly inferior to his, knowing of oneself.

I have a deep suspicion that the answer is something like: "Blue." (just kidding) Kind of.
I write more on this in Part 2: "Simultaneity."


"Shimmer with a smile. Life is hard, bloom anyway."

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