Thursday, April 29, 2010
A purple masterpiece
by Dubby Riley
Jo has raised the bar. "Friends, let's weave a masterpiece."
Joellen Floyd (No middle name) Lucas writes with precision, humility, eloquence and grace. Her message is inspiring and full of hope. We Ruskin friends have good reason to glow under the influence of her light. But really, neither she nor John Ruskin himself, exclude anyone from their invitation to grow... to "gaze without shrinking into the darkness."
My own ability is meager compared to hers. My vocabulary, my composition, my style--all seem feeble compared to her essays. Very few writers, in fact, will ever achieve her level of skill, let alone to have her vision. Isn't it fortunate for us that she invites us to be part of her inner circle? And we can rejoice that the masterpiece she insinuates doesn't require that we qualify as expert writers, or expert anything for that matter. That is, if I understand her point, we're not expected to be masters to weave a masterpiece.
Jo's "reflection" does seem to suggest a certain level of responsiblity though. I hear a gentle whisper, urging us to contribute to the greater good. And it moves me to muster strength and conviction and especially heart to be part of the solution, to help us succeed as a culture. I've been thinking a lot lately about the world and our place in it. Not just we grads of Ruskin, class of '71, but we who have had so much privilege and have enjoyed so much of the "fruit" of the world.
Just lately, and I mean literally within weeks or months, I'm having a change of heart about our differences as a country torn by politics. All agree that we're racked by gridlock. Some of us identify with liberal ideology and some with conservative. We've been stereotyped as red or blue as states go. I used to bristle by arguments made by supporters of certain leaders, and honestly I still am biased, but I see now that as long as I stay stubborn about these things, I'm as much a part of the problem as those who do the same thing on the other side. So I've been thinking--isn't purple the most incredible color? Purple is that lovely combination of red and blue.
Part of what has brought me to this place is our connections which have occurred because of Facebook. Here we were light hearted children, though we wouldn't have called ourselves that when we walked the halls of the proud Ruskin Eagles. We laughed and joked and went to our football games and dances, debated and cheered and met up at Paul's for burgers or just to be "in the scene." Now we're back as friends again, many of us without having ever talked in over 35 years! But now about half of us vote one way and the other half the other.
What has put such an intense magnifying glass on the situation for me is that we discover that some of our closest friends feel passionately different about policy. And I wonder, which is closer to our authentic self--how we were then or how we are now? Also, a key to resolution about progress may rest in our old friendships. They talk about how it used to be different in Washington. Republicans and democrats used to be friends. Should I stop loving someone, who I haven't seen in forty years because they feel strongly and passionately about their country? Sounds absurd doesn't it?
Jo mentions our preponderance of artists within our midst. Rick and Danny and Mo are lucky, I think, to be musicians. Not only do they feel good when they make music but others are healed by the music. I liken them to physicians. Jo and Reya and Linda, too, are artists with words. So others reap the reward by savoring the images from their canvasses. Dancers, painters, cinematographers, home builders, teachers, church or factory workers...artists all...delight us and nurture us by their inspiration.
Have you ever noticed that almost magically, when an intention is set that results follow? What if we devote our art...our cumulative art to creating the most wonderful shade of purple? Our politicians don't really know us. But we know each other. We survived a tornado. We've raised children. We've owned businesses and we've volunteered, we've coached teams and we've supported our communities.
I don't think either side has all the answers but I'll be damned if I'm going to go down as a stubborn liberal pacifist intent on proving he's right, at the expense of our culture being doomed to stalemate and stagnation. That doesn't seem like a masterpiece in the making to me.