Sep 1 2011

#124 “Unhappy Traveler”

From Hristina in Slovenia

First of all, I have to say that I  am completely enamored with the angle of this drawing. The image of this wolf with his head hanging down towards the ground as he slowly trots away from the viewer is truly poignant and very powerful. I have received more than a few “sad” wolves, but this one offers a cathartic experience like no other. The site of a despondent animal is one that can stir the soul. There is simply a level of vulnerability that is so pure in an animal that seems to express sadness that your heart simply leaps out of its chest to make a connection with this creature. Perhaps that is why our hearts ache for suffering animals: because it provides an emotional link for us. We can look into those eyes, and if nothing else, we can identify with the pain that we see staring back at us.

Thankfully, Hrsitina informed me via email that this wolf is no longer so sorrowful and has cast off his dejected state. I must say that this provides more than a little comfort. I can’t help thinking that maybe this has something to do with the lonesome but rewarding road of trials that creature seems to have set his paws upon. Many times we may set off down a path and expect only disappointment and sorrow, but then we are uplifted by the journey itself and the unexpected mysteries that lie ahead.

Ultimately, I think Robert Frost expressed this idea better than I ever could. I hope it’s not cliche, but I thought it appropriate to accompany this poem with Frost’s “The Road Not Taken.” I’m sure most of you have read this poem before, probably several times. However, don’t pass this poem by without another look. Pay attention to the message… it might make all the difference.

“The Road Not Taken”
By Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Jul 13 2011

#74 “Acquainted with the Night”

From Jen

I am convinced that Mother Nature can offer no image that is more soul-stirring than that of the lonesome lobo, perched triumphantly upon a monolithic promontory while the silver moon anoints its fur with a shimmering glaze of light. There is so much emotion tied to this one image, so much longing and regret, so much desire and sadness, all of it intersecting at this one point. It’s enough to capture the deepest reaches of the human soul that have yet to be explored by introspection and dredge them up to the light of day that resides inside the conscious mind. Laying eyes upon this creature is like tangentially connecting to a universe in which we are merely strangers and yet we know that in some far away time and place, in some distant history that was never recorded, this was our home.

As much as we long to belong to this wild and wondrous scene, we must be content to exist in a world in which we have taken our own selves as prisoners. We may admire the wolf at a distance, but we are not of the same breed; yes, we are all made of the stuff of stars, but in some different formula. Only the wolf knows his own world, and disappointing as it might be, this must be accepted. We may touch this wild and strange world of wonder every so often, but we are not wolves, ourselves. We are not the fearless, wandering conquerers of the moonlight skies.

We are not “Acquainted with the Night” as they are….

“Acquainted with the Night”
By Robert Frost

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain — and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
A luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.

Jun 17 2011

#48 “Echoes”

From a stranger in Utica, New York.

The act of calling out over a cliff or precipice and hearing our own eery and exciting echo is something that I think we all can identify with. We’ve all done it, whether it we were sitting in an empty bathroom or standing on the edge of the grand canyon. We’ve all called out to hear our voice come back to us, to hear it resonate and permeate our environment.

It is believed that wolves perch themselves upon promontories and howl in order to communicate over great distances. But why do we as people call or shout out from cliff tops when we have the opportunity? Is it a narcissistic act designs to simply allow us to hear our own voice? Or is there something deeper that we are subconsciously trying to achieve?

I’m not really sure what the answer to this question is, but examining the illustration above and considering this concept brings to mind one of my favorite poems by Robert Frost called “The Most of It.” In the poem, a boy calls out from a cliffside, seeking some sort of response from the universe. As the boy cries out, the speaker says that the only response he receives is the sound and image of a great buck that comes splashing through the water below and then climbs upon the bank, pouring water from its coat. The buck then crashes through the undergrowth. At the end of the poem, the reader is left wondering what to make of this scene. Was the appearance of the buck the result of a conscious decision on the part of the universe to let the boy know that he was not alone? Or was this perhaps a random event that could only reinforce the boy’s fears that he is a stranger in this primeval world?

Take a look at the poem and decide for yourself.

“The Most of It” by Robert Frost

He thought he kept the universe alone;
For all the voice in answer he could wake
Was but the mocking echo of his own
From some tree–hidden cliff across the lake.
Some morning from the boulder–broken beach
He would cry out on life, that what it wants
Is not its own love back in copy speech,
But counter–love, original response.
And nothing ever came of what he cried
Unless it was the embodiment that crashed
In the cliff’s talus on the other side,
And then in the far distant water splashed,
But after a time allowed for it to swim,
Instead of proving human when it neared
And someone else additional to him,
As a great buck it powerfully appeared,
Pushing the crumpled water up ahead,
And landed pouring like a waterfall,
And stumbled through the rocks with horny tread,
And forced the underbrush—and that was all.