What if?

The imagination imitates. It is the critical spirit that creates.” ~ Oscar Wilde

Imagination vs. Critical Spirit is the theme for July over at the BeZine.  I’ve been pondering these words and what they mean. When I first read the above quote, every creative cell in my body yelled, “Nope!”. I decided to live with the idea for a little while, to make sure that I wasn’t just reacting out of instinct to protect my own view of “Imagination”. It continued to bother me, so I did what I always do in cases where I’m having a problem with Art: I consulted my own, resident expert, my mother. She has been an artist longer than I have been alive.

It was no surprise that we were both reminded of another saying, “Nothing new under the sun”, which comes from Bible scripture in Ecclesiastes 1:9 — “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.

Image borrowed from 67notout.com

Image borrowed from 67notout.com

If one takes the view that God is the only true, original creator, then yes, of course  anything we create is going to pale in comparison and be just imitation. But we’re also told that we are made in His image, so we humans are not only copies, we’re creators, too!

Regarding Imagination vs. Critical Spirit, the thing to remember is that both are subjective. Each one of us has a different “version” of both imagination and critical spirit. So our truths about what constitutes each one are subjective, too.

It not only depends on your definition of “Imagination”, but also depends on how you define the two words “Critical Spirit”. Most people hear or read the word “critical” with a negative connotation, but I don’t think Mr. Wilde meant it in that way. I think he meant that internal editor/analyzer who is judicious of what is created in an attempt to make it better.  Others might believe that the words refer to that divine spark inside all of us that strives to attain divine perfection in whatever we create (which is perhaps when the focus is more on the word “spirit” than “critical”).

Wilde’s quote comes across as reductionist to me, while I prefer a more gestalt point of view.  I can’t help but be a little defensive of the imagination, because it seems that he favors the “critical spirit” and labels the imagination a mere imitator. In my opinion, BOTH are equally necessary and important for creative art.  Something my mom mentioned in our discussion stood out to me as a good way to describe it.

Daisy painting by Delmus Phelps from easy-oil-painting-techniques.org

Daisy painting by Delmus Phelps from easy-oil-painting-techniques.org

She said, “A realistic painting of a yellow and white daisy is an imitation of nature, with little creativity, but rather skill mastery.

A painting of a daisy with a rainbow of colored petals, would be an imitation of the natural shape, but would also employ the critical spirit through imagination and be more creative. It would ask the question: What if?”

Rain-over-a-rainbow-flower from wallpapermania.eu

Image borrowed from wallpapermania.eu

I think this is a good explanation, because that “what if” is the very essence of the critical spirit, the voice inside that analyzes and asks how the creator can make it different, better.

However, the imagination has to dream that it’s possible, first.  In that sense, I disagree that the imagination is a mere imitator. I think of it as more of an instigator, a jumping off point from which countless “what ifs” are possible.

In closing, I’d like to offer a different quote about imagination:

“Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

Posted in Art, Creativity, Inspiration, Philosophical Ponderings, Uncategorized, Writing | 4 Comments

~ The Zen of Writer’s Block ~

The white screen: blank, empty,

pregnant with Nothingness,

ready to be filled.

The monkey-mind of racing thoughts,

ideas,

each quickly considered,

and just as quickly discarded,

in the search for “perfection”;

The exact antithesis

of the stillness, calm

and peace,

of just “being”.

Silently cursing the cursor,

which blinks at me,

a steady taunting,

I search for the Zen in writer’s block…

knowing in my heart

that the harder I seek,

the less likely I am to find it.

Perhaps I can find my center,

with the framed, pre-programmed

tool of aligned justification,

listening to the spirit breathe

and following that breath,

to a deeper meaning on the page?

~ C.L.R. ~ © 2015

Posted in Creativity, Frustration, Peace, Perfection, Philosophical Ponderings, Poetry, Uncategorized, Writer's Block, Writing, Zen | 5 Comments

Being a more compassionate gardener

Like many people, I love to garden. I enjoy the feeling of soil beneath my fingers, the satisfaction of caring for plants and watching them grow and bloom. I also tend to believe that all life is sacred. From the biggest whale in the ocean, down to the tiniest ant in the ground, all living things are usually just trying to survive, the best and only ways they know how. It can be frustrating when garden pests appear to  wreck all of my hard work! But in the many years I have been doing it, I have come to understand and appreciate that there must be a balance and that there are ways to be a more compassionate gardener.

*********

Aphids. These sap-sucking insects can quickly overtake and kill an otherwise healthy plant. Most healthy plants can survive a small infestation of aphids, but if their numbers grow too large, it’s time to take action.

What you can do:

* Introduce some helpful insects – get some Ladybugs (also called Ladybirds in some parts of the country)! Ladybugs love aphids and can be relatively inexpensive to purchase. Lacewings are another alternative if you can’t find any Ladybugs.

* Use the water pressure spray from your garden hose to knock the aphids off the stems and leaves of plants. Many times, this alone will be enough to dislodge those unwelcome guests.

* Use a spray bottle filled with soapy water (1 quart of water, 1 teaspoon of liquid dish soap and a pinch of cayenne pepper) and make sure to mist the underside of the leaves, where aphids like to congregate.

* Plant some plants which attract Lacewings and Ladybugs and deter aphids, due to their strong scents.  Some good examples to try are: Onions, Garlic, Chives, Cilantro, Rosemary, Sage, Oregano and Fennel.  Most strong scented herbs and plants in the Allium family are great for this.

* Encourage nesting of birds which eat aphids, like wrens, titmice and chickadees. Natural predators are much safer and more compassionate than chemicals. (After all, the birds have to eat, too!)

Image borrowed from http://hqwallbase.com

Image borrowed from http://hqwallbase.com

Slugs/Snails. Slimy and slow, these invertebrates can leave a trail of destruction that will decimate any garden.

What you can do:

* Plant “barrier plants” around the plants you’re trying to protect. As with aphids, slugs don’t care for strong scented herbs like those listed above.  Nasturtiums are also a natural plant that slugs don’t like. Try it. You might be surprised.

* Sprinkle finely-crushed eggshells or use a ring of sandpaper around the plants you want to protect.  The slugs and snails will not attempt to crawl over these things because they will hurt themselves doing it.  By the way, coffee grounds are great for soil amendment but they don’t do squat to keep the slugs and snails away. ;)

* Put a board or an upside-down flower pot propped up so the slugs can get under it by the plants you don’t want eaten and check the board or pot every morning. The slugs and snails will go party on the underside since it’s cool and possibly damp, and you can pick them off by hand to get rid of them.

* If you can find it, try mulching around your plants with seaweed about 3-4 inches deep. The salt content in seaweed is enough to keep those pesky gastropods away. Don’t ever put salt ON your plants, though. It will kill them.

Snakes/Spiders/Lizards.  Any experienced gardener will tell you: these are NOT the enemies! Quite simply, leave them be. They will help your garden more than you realize, and even though they may give you the heebie-jeebies, don’t kill them. Most of the time, they are not dangerous to people and will help you in your quest to keep your garden pest free.

Image borrowed from http://westwoodgrove.org

Image borrowed from http://westwoodgrove.org

Gardening can help a person “get back to earth” and reconnect with the planet. We can be compassionate in our efforts to protect the fruits of our labors and we don’t have to saturate the world with chemicals or kill those things which we label “pests”. There is always a balance which we should strive to keep.

“Simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures. Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being. Patient with both friends and enemies, you accord with the way things are. Compassionate toward yourself, you reconcile all beings in the world.”

 — Lao Tzu in Tao Te Ching

Posted in Ecology, Environment, Flowers, Gardening, Life, Nature, Seasons, Spring, Summer, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Catching the Light…

The theme for March for the Be Zine is “renewal”. I think it’s a wonderful, appropriate subject, since Spring is practically at our doorstep (all the current snow and ice-storms notwithstanding) and our part of the world is waking up from the dark sleep of winter to the return of longer days (and light!). As the buds and bright green things begin to venture forth, it’s as if all of nature is renewing itself for another year.

Romans 12.2It can be this way with people, too, you know. We can renew ourselves by shaking off the sluggishness of the winter season and stretching, reaching for the light.  In fact, we don’t even have to wait until Spring to do it. Each and every day is a chance for a new start, a chance to renew ourselves!

The following photos were part of one of my mother’s art series called “Catch the Light”, where she explored the realm of digital photography by using light and shadows and various interesting objects.  In these I’ve posted, she used a water lily flower from the pond in her yard and Aurora Borealis beads.

AB "Catch the Light" 13-7 Bettye Holte © 2003 all rights reserved

AB “Catch the Light” 13-7 Bettye Holte © 2003 all rights reserved

Both the beads and lily are great examples of “catching the light”. The beads, in case you’ve never heard of them, were created in the 1950’s by the famous Swarovski Crystal Company.  To make the beautiful beads you see here, they use a stone/crystal that has been coated with thin layers of metal, to enhance the brilliance and reflective color qualities.  The method of coating the stone/crystal involves vaporizing metals in a vacuum.

AB "Catch the Light" 13-11 Bettye Holte © 2003 all rights reserved

AB “Catch the Light” 13-11 Bettye Holte © 2003 all rights reserved

The water lily (or, as a symbol, the lotus) has also been used for thousands of years as a metaphor for enlightenment (and perpetual renewal, each day) in several religions.  In Buddhism, different colors of lotuses mean different things, but the flower is generally associated with enlightenment, purity, beauty, spirituality, love and compassion. In Hinduism, it symbolizes purity, spiritual enlightenment and wisdom. In Egyptian culture, it has long been a symbol of rebirth and the Sun.

How can we, as people, “catch the light” and renew ourselves each day?

Doe Zantamada Every morningWhen you wake up each day, remember that you have a whole new 24 hours to make you and your life into what you want it to be! Something to become aware of, is what are the things you are passionate about? What makes you feel alive and enthusiastic about life? Are you doing them? Why or why not? Make time! Do them! You only get one life, so make it as full as you possibly can with what you love and what sparks happiness inside of you.

I believe another important thing to consider is becoming aware of what things drag us down or block our reception of the light (the happiness and joy) around us. Once you can see what’s casting a shadow on your life (so to speak), then you can concentrate on what you need to do to get rid of it. Speaking of concentration, energy focused on the positive things in your life is much more productive and rewarding than always looking at the negatives.  Like attracts like. The energy you send out to the universe will return to you ten-fold, so why not try to catch (and project) some light? :)

Dumbledore light buzzfeed

Posted in Awareness, Flowers, Food For Thought, Inspiration, Life, Light, Philosophical Ponderings, Present, Renewal, Spring, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Bread as the face of God

there-are-people-in-the-world-so-hungry-that-god-cannot-appear-to-them-except-in-the-form-of-breadHow many times in your life have you been truly hungry? I don’t mean normal hunger that comes from skipping a meal or two, I mean the kind of hunger that causes a literal pain and gnawing in your belly. We may get reminded of global hunger by late night info-mercials with children who look like walking skeletons,  or if we interact with homeless people at all, we may see hints of it. You might have been scolded as a child to “finish your food because there are kids starving in Africa!” Some of us may even know people who struggle to put food on the table for their families. But chances are, you’ve never had to deal with the kind of hunger and malnutrition that can kill you.

Lent season is coming up and that leads many to think about fasting.  That, in turn, can remind us of hunger, and how many people there are in the world who are always hungry.  Lent is also a time when people give up vices, and spend that money that they would have spent on their vice on charity, instead. I think helping out someone who is hungry is an excellent substitute.

Mother-Teresa-Quotes-about-poor-person-dies-of-hunger

Some sobering facts for you:

  • The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that nearly 870 million people of the 7.1 billion people in the world, or one in eight, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2010-2012. ~ Source

  • The world produces enough food to feed all 7 billion people, but those who go hungry either do not have land to grow food or money to purchase it. ~ Source

  • Nearly 98% of worldwide hunger exists in underdeveloped countries. ~ Source

  • Almost 1 in every 15 children in developing countries dies from hunger. ~ Source

The good news is that overall, world hunger has actually decreased, thanks in large part to awareness campaigns, global government programs and more people pitching in to help.  There is still a long, long way to go.

What can you do to help? I’m glad you asked! :)

Locally:

Supermarket Stakeout

Food Forward

Ideas to help from Bread.Org

Click to give (Greater Good Network)

Globally:

Feed the future

GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative)

Bread For the World

Practical Action.org

Borgen Project.org

World Food Programme

Action Against Hunger

Here’s a really good video that addresses global hunger, the reasons behind it and what can be done to help:

Posted in Famine, Food, Food For Thought, Giving, Human Rights, Hunger, Life, Past Present and Future, Poverty | 2 Comments

~ Tree Cathedral Acrostic ~

"Tree Cathedral" © Corina L. Ravenscraft 2013

“Tree Cathedral” © Corina L. Ravenscraft 2013

Deep within an overgrown, ancient wood

In solitude, lies the earthy peace I seek.

Voices of the sacred Mother’s brood

In whispers of wind and burbles of creek.

Nature always calls her dear children home,

Ever connected, though they may forget.

Fertile ground found in fern green and black loam,

Elder trees march in dark jade silhouette.

Mossy fingers float, to caress passers by,

Infusing each visitor with reverence and awe.

Natural cathedrals stretch spires to the sky,

In celebration of the Earth Mother’s law.

Nearer, in the wilds, to the Divine Feminine.

Eager is this child to commune once again.

~ © C.L.R. ~ 2014

 

Posted in Acrostic, Awareness, Divine Feminine, Ecology, Environment, Health, Life, Nature, Peace, Poetry, Trees, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Some Early Seasonal Cheer

December is usually that time of year that we reflect on the year which is almost done and start thinking about Christmas and the coming new year. For me, this means a “clearing out” of things I’ve accumulated or held onto throughout the year (mentally, emotionally, spiritually and especially physically). In the tradition of “clearing out”, I’ve been slowly but surely deleting old e-mails.

One of them I came across was from several years ago and I thought I would share the joy of it with all of you, in case you hadn’t seen it. It was about Christmas Trees from all over the world.  It seems that the Christmas Tree is a global symbol of celebration and delight at this time of year. The lights twinkle, the ornaments sparkle, and the decorating brings together friends and family to provide the warmth of camaraderie during the cold, dark, winter month of December. So sit back, grab a hot toddy or cup of hot cocoa and enjoy seeing how others celebrate their Christmas Trees. :) (Note: The photos and text by each picture are what was included in the e-mail).

Times Square Tree

Before the ball drops in Times Square, the Big Apple turns on its
holiday charm with the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center.

White House Tree

The Capitol Christmas tree in Washington, D.C., is decorated with 3,000 ornaments that are the handiwork of U.S. schoolchildren. Encircling evergreens in the ‘Pathway of Peace’ represent the 50 U.S. states.

Monte Ingino TreeThe world’s largest Christmas tree display rises up the slopes of Monte Ingino outside of Gubbio, in Italy’s Umbria region.
Composed of about 500 lights connected by 40,000 feet of wire, the ‘tree’ is a modern marvel for an ancient city.

tokyos-akasaka-grand-prince-hotel tree
A Christmas tree 100 Meters tall, befitting Tokyo’s nighttime neon display is
projected onto the exterior of the Grand Prince Hotel Akasaka.
Prague Tree

Illuminating the Gothic facades of Prague’s Old Town Square, and casting its glow over the manger display of the famous Christmas market, is a grand tree cut in the Sumava mountains
in the southern Czech Republic.

Murano Glass Tree

Venice ‘s Murano Island renowned throughout the world for its quality glasswork is home to the tallest glass tree in the world. Sculpted by master glass blower Simone Cenedese, the artistic Christmas tree is a modern
reflection of the holiday season.

Moscow TreeMoscow celebrates Christmas according to the Russian Orthodox calendar on Jan. 7. For weeks beforehand, the city is alive with festivities in anticipation of Father Frost’s arrival on his magical troika with the Snow Maiden. He and his helper deliver gifts under the New Year Tree, or Yolka, which is traditionally a fir.

Lisbon-Praça do Comércio TreeThe largest Christmas tree in Europe (more than 230 feet tall) can be found in the Praça do Comércio in Lisbon, Portugal. Thousands of lights adorn the tree, adding to the special enchantment of the city during the holiday season.

German chapel Tree‘Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree': Even in its humblest attire,
aglow beside a tiny chapel in Germany’s Karwendel mountains,
a Christmas tree is a wondrous sight.

Lafayette dept store treeOoh la la, Galeries Lafayette! In Paris, even the Christmas trees are chic. With its monumental, baroque dome, plus 10 stories of lights and high fashion, it’s no surprise this show-stopping department store draws more visitors than the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower!
St Peters Square TreeIn addition to the Vatican’s heavenly evergreen, St. Peter’s Square in Rome hosts a larger-than-life nativity scene in front of the obelisk.

Christmas Tree at Puerta del Sol in MadridThe Christmas tree that greets revelers at the Puerta del Sol is dressed for a party. Madrid’s two-week celebration makes
millionaires along with merrymakers. On Dec. 22, a lucky citizen
will win El Gordo (the fat one), the world’s biggest lottery.

Trafalgar-Square-TreeA token of gratitude for Britain’s aid during World War II,
the Christmas tree in London’s Trafalgar Square has been
the annual gift of the people of Norway since 1947.

Frankfurt Tree

Drink a glass of gluhwein from the holiday market at the Romer Frankfurt‘s city hall since 1405 and enjoy a taste of Christmas past.

Location unknown treeAgainst a backdrop of tall, shadowy firs, a rainbow trio of
Christmas trees lights up the night (location unknown).

Posted in Christmas, Holidays, Trees, Uncategorized, Winter | 2 Comments