Ten Thousand Days

The Mysteries of the Candid Self

March 29, 2016
Photo: Hieu le

Photo: Hieu le

Gratitude, Joy, Oneness and Servie (Day 581 – Day 587)

My writer-brain seems to have gone on vacation while I was down with the flu.   I just can’t seem to find myself compelled to write.

I have, for the past 3-4 weeks, been compelled to draw.

That doesn’t really help to create content for an online magazine about gratitude, unless of course, we simply look at some photos of my drawings.  Well, I suppose we could do that, but, I’m not convinced that would be particularly interesting as I’m not what we would call “skilled” at it.

What I do find interesting is the compulsion to draw.  I have literally not left the house for several days on end and sat drawing the faces of a few people I care about.  Each drawing takes about 3 completely focussed hours before I feel I can let it go.  I have gone back to drawings later, and tried to ‘fix’ bits of them.  It usually ruins them.  So, I just let them go…and then I move on to the next piece or just go to bed.

I notice something strange about my drawings.  Aside from being unable to meet the rules of thumb about proportion, shading and perspective – rules I have never learned – I notice that each time I draw someone, whether it is someone else or even myself, my drawing is more beautiful than the person is, in day to day life.  Maybe this is because I am drawing from photographs as practice.  Maybe – and I suspect it is this – it is an expression of my own vision.

While I think it would be better if I learned to draw exactly what I see, when training my eye, I also like to believe that I am putting something of myself into the drawing.  I know that I often choose subjects with whom I feel a connection.  If I am going to spend 45 minutes getting the shape of their eyes and nose right, I want to enjoy looking that closely at the contours of their faces.  But, recently I tried drawing someone I don’t particularly like and I have drawn people I actually dislike – and the result is the same: they appear more pleasing and beautiful in my drawings than in their photographs.

I’m not sure what that says about me.  But, when I think about it, whenever I photograph people, I look for beauty.  I don’t mean magazine beauty but the light in people’s eyes and faces that makes them beautiful.  We are all beautiful if you catch us when we are unaware of being watched.  And maybe that is what I am drawing – I look at the eyes for the expression of the soul – the candid self.

Or maybe I just can’t draw.  That is a distinct possibility, too.

I don’t have much else to say this week.  I am still processing my feelings about the events in Brussels.  It has shaken me, but I refuse to be fearful.   Many people, after the events of 9/11 in New York seemed to have a crisis of faith and fell into despair.  And, after Paris, I felt despair.  I didn’t feel despair at how easily ‘hit’ we are by terrorism.  I didn’t feel a crisis of faith.  I felt despair at the world reaction.  This time, I have only felt how much I care about other people.

Maybe drawing is my way of expressing my love – albeit in a personalised way – in a world filled with hate and fear.  I have been drawing men, mostly, and to express love to them might be misconstrued.  The Greeks had many words for love because love comes in so many forms.  Today, we have narrowed it down to Eros and when that doesn’t fit the situation, it is difficult to be candid with one’s love.  And so we go around, increasingly lonely in a world that is, in private places, filled with love that no longer has a vocabulary of expression.


But light always has a way of revealing the mysteries of the self, and of telling the candid story of love.


Today I am grateful for the writing schedule I have set myself.  Without it, I might not have come to do my post today.  I really haven’t wanted to write.    I am grateful for the outlet of drawing.  I’m not sure when this will pass but it is a compulsion at the moment and so, I’m not fighting it.  It is taking over time I would possibly spend writing or socialising but, sometimes you have to go with what’s happening and see where it takes you.  I’m grateful for the people I love.  If I choose to, I can draw so many loved ones.  I keep coming back to the same few faces.  There is something in that and maybe it’s not necessary to ‘understand’ what it is.   All I know is that I am grateful for the people I love and for the time I have had with them – either in person, or drawing them into the here and now.  Last night I drew a small picture and it was the first time I felt that the person I was drawing was alive and 3-d, on the page.  It was so strange to see the face emerge – so life like – from the empty space around it.  For a moment, it felt like it might actually speak.  A strange and joyful moment.

I have been very present with and connected to a couple of people this week as I keep drawing them over and over again.  I may not be able to articulate what it is that I am tapping into in my drawing, but I can say that I feel very connected with those individuals, as I draw.  Maybe they need a bit of healing energy.  Maybe I do, and ‘being with them’ on the page is healing for me.  Whatever direction the energy is flowing, it is flowing and there is a connection of Oneness happening.

Someone is being healed in the process of all of this drawing.  Who it is (me or them or us) is open to debate.  I know it feels healing to me, and just going ‘with this’ has been my service this week.  More concretely, I was speaking with a former LSE classmate and we started to organise a reunion for our graduating year.  It is two years away, but there will be events in the lead up.  We have classmates on every continent in the world, and so advance planning for those of us who will be overseas is important.  It may take some serious budgeting for some of us, depending on the currency in which we are earning.  I hope that most of us will come to London for the event.  I think the presence of an LSE colleague in the terminal in Brussels when the explosions happened has made me very aware of how tomorrow is not guaranteed.  I am looking forward to seeing everyone again and reconnecting.  I am a much different person now than I was then, and I am looking forward to showering them with love and gratitude.

And what is the meaning?  I have no idea except to say that mystery is the greatest gift we have.  If we go where the muse takes us, we will eventually find something wonderful.    If we simply allow mystery, and go where we are drawn, we allow ourselves to be candid with ourselves.  Accepting the presence of mystery is a key ingredient to the act of creation.  It is also the gateway to faith, hope and love.


For what are you most grateful, this week?

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  • Reply Urspo March 30, 2016 at 1:55 pm

    Other than writing, I can think of no better way of expressing oneself and getting in touch with the universe than drawing. Keep doing so.

    • Reply Tania D. Campbell April 1, 2016 at 2:24 pm

      I work with Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategy cards. They were designed by a musician for musicians but there is a fundamental part of me that is a musician as well. I think that music, dance, drawing and sometimes, even acting can take us into a part of the brain we don’t normally access. I was drawing this week with my left hand (I am right handed) and I found that I could not find words to talk to someone who was chatting with me. Like Brian Eno’s strategies, perhaps all this drawing is disruptive of my writing in a useful way. The other night I was on the tube and as a writer, we try to train ourselves to pay attention to sights, sounds, smells etc so that we can use them in our writing. I used to write with sound a lot. This week I noticed the lines that ran across the heel of a man’s boot. I had never noticed that detail before. I only noticed it because I was looking with the eye of wanting to draw.

      I think music, dance, acting are also good ways of being in touch with the self and the universe, as well. I drew an oblique strategy card this week because I have been concerned that I am not writing. The card told me to throw away my usual tools. And so, I draw. And, I think I need to do more drawing with my left hand because it seems that doing so disconnects me from words. Maybe doing that will help me reconnect with more power, when it’s time.


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