Enter Into Joy

Friday, March 25, 2011

You got the fight?

Joni Mitchell transformed Rudyard Kipling's poem 'If' into a beautiful 
adaptation on her album, 'Shine.' See Mitchell's version below, and then read on for the original Kipling version. Both tap into essential skills of faith, confidence and tenacity, but end with radically different life views. See for yourself.

Joni Mitchell

by Joni Mitchell 

If you can keep your head
While all about you
People are losing theirs and blaming you
If you can trust yourself
When everybody doubts you
And make allowance for their doubting too.

If you can wait
And not get tired of waiting
And when lied about
Stand tall
Don't deal in lies
And when hated
Don't give in to hating back
Don't need to look so good
Don't need to talk too wise.

If you can dream
And not make dreams your master
If you can think
And not make intellect your game
If you can meet
With triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same

If you can force your heart
And nerve and sinew
To serve you
After all of them are gone
And so hold on
When there is nothing in you
Nothing but the will
That's telling you to hold on!
Hold on!

If you can bear to hear
The truth you've spoken
Twisted and misconstrued
By some smug fool
Or watch your life''s work
Torn apart and broken down
And still stoop to build again
With worn out tools.

If you can draw a crowd
And keep your virtue
Or walk with Kings
And keep the common touch
If neither enemies nor loving friends
Can hurt you
If everybody counts with you
But none too much.

If you can fill the journey
Of a minute
With sixty seconds worth of wonder and delight
The Earth is yours
And Everything that's in it
But more than that
I know
You'll be alright
You'll be alright.

Cause you've got the fight
You've got the insight
You've got the fight
You've got the insight

© 2007; Crazy Crow Music

by Rudyard Kipling
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with wornout tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

Poet Rudyard Kipling, below.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

One bite of the elephant at a time

Photo from tsunami,
photographer unknown
In context of the current disaster in Japan, the loss of life, the possible nuclear meltdown, and the untold misery beset on hapless people, how significant or meaningful is an art project? If you are one of the victims or in any way connected with this disaster . . . no matter how peripherally, the obvious immediate answer is none at all. But, I think it is a matter of scale and perspective. Against a different backdrop and over a longer period of time, art can have a much longer and just as profound an impact as an immediate crisis. (Think Picasso’s Guernica.)
— By John Katz

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Teach me to seek you

Photograph by Eugene Atget 

Originally written September 7, 2010

Teach me to seek thee, and reveal thyself to me when I seek thee, for I cannot seek thee except thou teach me, nor find thee except thou reveal thyself.
— by Saint Anselm

Right hand:
This is a complex thought, a complex plea. Let’s start with “Teach me to seek thee.” “Teach me to seek you.” What does that mean? It means the one making the pleas has picked a teacher and recognizes that there is some action required to go on the quest to be in the presence of that teacher. Is it a pilgrimage to Lourdes? Or Jerusalem? Or through much more treacherous territory? Past, through the fears, the compulsions, the little pleasures, until we finally, finally, finally arrive at this quiet, safe, irrepressible place. And getting there requires the instruction of a teacher, offering guidance on what shield to use, what to leave behind, what are the best shoes for the long journey, and what kind of sustenance will I need?

Left hand:
Slap my hand with a ruler. Go ahead. Really. It’s OK. Maybe that’s the quick route to bring me back to you, to Love, to trust, to wonder.

September 8, 2010

“. . .  and reveal thyself to me when I seek thee.”

Right hand:
The plea continues. You’ve taught me to look for you . . . in meditation, in nature, in another’s kindness and patience, in the quiet time of making art, in the beauty of raindrops clinging to an ornate pine branch, in the creative vortex of children, in a child’s happiness, in the animals who live in my home, in a shared meal. The search is elementary, really, right? The sought after is everywhere, and the lesson so simple  . . . just slow down, give attention where attention is due, look . . . listen . . . respect. You don’t make this journey particularly difficult. We do.

Left hand:
“. . . and reveal thyself to me when I seek thee. “

There you are, in plain sight – patiently waiting for me – in the same way that I patiently stand, waiting for my dog to sniff every scent that wafts her way, stop in her tracks and bark at every errant sound, get in a barking match with the shrill puppies across the street, relieve herself, leave her mark as many places as possible – finally. She is done, and she notices me again – maybe hears my voice calling to her – and she comes – smiling or sheepish — back, to my protection, kind words + embrace. Reunited.
— Karen Blessen

Friday, March 11, 2011

Principles of Flight 1.01

Air Dynamics 1.01

There are, basically, four forces of flight: lift, drag, thrust and weight.

1. Forward speed is necessary to fly.

2. For an object to fly, it must always engage in a tug of war between the opposing forces of lift versus weight and thrust versus drag.

3. Lift force points upward, opposite to the weight.

4. Thrust pushes the object forward, as drag slows it down.

5. The lift force must be greater than the weight and the thrust more powerful than the drag for the plane to fly.

6. If the thrust is powerful enough it will overcome weight and drag and the plane will fly.

7. Drag works against thrust to slow an aircraft.

8. The difference in speed between object and horizontally moving air increases as object increases speed.

9. If object is flat, it is pushed back. If object has speed and lift, it will fly.

10. Too much lift may cause aeronautical stall.

11. During take off and landing, it is necessary for a plane to fly as slowly as possible.

Monday, March 7, 2011

29 Pieces in Dallas Morning News

Karen Blessen in 29 Pieces studio
 Photo by Kye R. Lee, Staff Photographer, The Dallas Morning News

The Path to Peace
For Karen Blessen,
it's where creativity and spirituality converge

By ERIN BOOKE, Staff Writer, The Dallas Morning News, ebooke@dallasnews.com
Published, The Dallas Morning News, 05 March 2011

For Karen Blessen, creativity and spirituality must coexist.
About 11 years ago, the local artist and illustrator witnessed a murder in front of her home that changed her creative and spiritual paths. She began a meditation practice in order to bring them together.
“I asked myself, am I where I want to be?” Blessen says. “Meaning spiritually, not even careerwise or financially. And the answer was no.”
Her meditation involves memorizing passages from major faith traditions — Christian, Buddhist, American Indian — and creating a response.
“Let me walk in beauty.”
“If the very world should stop.”
“Dying of love is what I hope for.”

Repeating these sacred phrases led to an “outrageous burst of creative spirit,” Blessen says. During a five-month period in 2006 she created mixed-media, small-scale models to represent each passage. She envisions the project, called 29 Pieces, as a collection of enormous sculptures where others can gather and seek spiritual inspiration.
“It was a very compelling conviction,” she says. “It encapsulates everything I have in me, and in a way, it’s way bigger than me. Because what’s being expressed is a universal longing.”
For now, the pieces can be seen at Blessen’s studio in Deep Ellum. The clean, cool, spare gallery space creates a serene atmosphere that lets visitors focus on the message and forget the world around them.
“This space is a sanctuary for this work,” Blessen says. “It has a quietness to it that allows people to listen to the creative message that we don’t hear when we have a lot of cacophony around us.”
The collection of 29 models lines one wall, while images of what the large installations would look like line another.
Blessen comes to this space to write, think and envision. “I wanted it to be a white, restrained and simple space that wouldn’t stir up my mind or agitate me. A sacred, quiet space.”
When Blessen sits down to create, be it her personal work or illustrations for clients, she requires some privacy and a quiet room of her own. At her M Streets home, Blessen’s workspace is a loft studio in her woodsy backyard.
“I find it impossible to work in my own home,” she says. “I need a separation of some kind, a ritualistic separation from the day-to-day. In the home it’s too tempting to do laundry.”
To get to her backyard studio, Blessen begins the separation by walking 100 feet down a rocky path and up a turquoise spiral staircase.
The studio, designed by Phillips-Ryburn Associates and inspired by the Mexico home of artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, is filled with color and more visual stimulation than her spiritual space in Deep Ellum.
The industrial windows allow the sights and sounds of nature to encapsulate Blessen as she works. “I’m definitely a light addict,” she says.
Yes, KB's desk is ALWAYS this tidy.
Photo by Kye R. Lee, Staff Photographer, The Dallas Morning News
She surrounds herself with past works of art, personal photos, folk art pieces made by her husband, and mementos that remind her of travels, family members and other artists who’ve inspired her.
“I do have the presence of people who were instrumental to me,” she says.
Her dad was a carpenter and built a collapsible ruler that Blessen keeps on a nearby shelf. “It always impressed me that he could make things,” she says. Her mother also is a big presence. There’s a large poster of an illustration that Blessen designed for a Mother’s Day piece she wrote.
“My mom really inspired me with her kindness,” she says. “In some ways she was my spiritual teacher … in a church lady kind of way. I learned about how to treat people. To be kind to people and each other. She guided me more than anybody else.”
Blessen now guides others in their artistic and spiritual quests. Local spoken-word artist and creative-writing teacher Will Richey asked Blessen to mentor him, and he eventually came to use her Deep Ellum studio as his own space to create. He’s not just inspired by the space, but by Blessen’s presence.
“It’s a place where I can get away and get some peace,” he says. “It also embodies who she is — a beautiful, unconditional person. The studio is synonymous with the spirit of Karen.”
Richey is used to writing and working in busier, louder places, and even listens to music on headphones in order to block out the world. So Blessen’s space is a nice retreat.
“While I’ve learned to write and communicate in the midst of the world we live in,” he says, “there’s something about going to such a peaceful place.”
To learn more about Karen Blessen’s 29 Pieces art project, visit 29Pieces.org.

KB in front of the backyard studio
Photo by Kye R. Lee, Staff Photographer, The Dallas Morning News