Friday, April 15, 2016

Remembering His Hands

My father was an artist and a sculptor. I grew up in a house where being creative was as important as brushing your teeth and doing the dishes. I learned from my dad about form and colour, about the golden mean, about composition, balance, movement and above all about the importance of using my imagination. I was taught never to entertain the idea of boredom just because there didn't appear to be anything to do. I was an only child, but what he showed me about making things and keeping busy with my hands, meant I would never be stuck for ideas or lost for ways to pass any day, no matter how alone I was. I learned to not be afraid of change, but rather to be open to seeing the world in new way every day. Creativity was a part of life. It was a way of communicating. All of this I discovered in the context of having fun, whether it was playing music together, making things with whatever was at hand or visiting art galleries and museums.

I never noticed how immersed I was in the creative process until much later when I began to realize that it wasn't as much a part of the lives of people around me. The need to be spontaneous, to improvise, to adapt and to take the things that life threw at you and turn them into something, not just positive but hopefully imaginative and beautiful, was apparently not 'second nature' to everyone.

My father made his living working with his hands, His hands traced the contours and molded the forms that others would recognize and delight to see, and want to hold, and have, and own. His mind was keen and his hands were skillful. These two faculties made the important connections back and forth between image and imagination. All this was attractive and inviting to me and I was never intimidated by all this creativity in my family as I was growing up .

And so after having mentioned all of this, it seems a bit strange to also admit that even though I remember getting along so well with him, we were not really all that 'close'. We definitely were not close in the way that I perceived some of my other friends were with their dads.

But here is the thing, I think he and I enjoyed something which can't really be defined in terms of 'closeness' or measured in the traditional sense of family bonding. What he did enable me to discover and shared with me was a sense of a 'creative purpose' in a world where even if perhaps I didn't feel like I 'belonged', (or where I might not have family or friends around to support me) I could still tune in to that creative energy and be more than content.

On Jan 29 2010, after enduring, without complaint, his last few years on earth, putting up with a gradual deterioration of his health, my father quietly let go of the loose hold he had on this world and departed gracefully and silently into another place. I was not there to say goodbye. 

Of this I am certain, that he has had, and will continue to have, an influential hand on my life. Where he was going 'creatively' continues to draw me, and I will, as he did, keep delving into the 'creative process' which I believe is a looking, not so much beyond death, but rather a peering forward into the very source of life.