I took this picture in the reading room of the Morgan Library in New York City. I long to go back. Opulent. Peaceful. Rich colors and a collection of the most wondrous reading and materials in the world.
(I wrote this post this morning on MarieForleo.com in reply to a discussion about the importance of art in our lives. This comment felt like a blog post. I’d like to share it here. I hope you find some good in its message.)
Art is essential in allowing humanity to connect spiritually.
I use art to motivate my writing and the writing of others. Each facet of art, especially painting and sculpture (for me), can ignite a bevvy of stories for the world to see. It can inspires other and can change lives. It can shift a mind.
Street Art/Berlin Wall. Wende Museum. Los Angeles.
Music is also a profound inspiration. Artists who write life affirming and soul searching lyrics have made me the writer I am today. They connect feelings into words. Music and art makes us feel less alone in this world.
I think the one piece of art that changed my life (other than music), was Georges Seurat’s painting “Sunday on the Island of Grande Jatte” and the musical play it inspired. James Lapine wrote the book for “Sunday in the Park with George” and Stephen Sondheim created the most glorious, heart wrenching, moving score to reflect the concept of how a painting can tell a story. How each visage, each person painted were really humans with beating hearts and broken lives painted in dabs of light. The way the painting comes to life with humanity and the love story woven in – showed me how art can be a powerful reflection of our lives. In fact, the entire show has specific lyrics that support this entire theme.
‘Sunday in the Park with George’
Add the wonderful musical ‘Fun Home’ – which shows painful, universal themes in a beautiful, touching way – and we have continued proof that the arts tell the story of our lives.
Cast of ‘Fun Home’. Photo by Christaan Felber. The New Yorker.
Don’t let anybody, or any negative voice in your head tell you otherwise. We need more art. We need creation.
As good ol’ Steve wrote in “Sunday…”
“Look at what you want,
Not at where you are,
Not at what you’ll be-
Look at all the things you’ve done for me
Opened up my eyes,
Taught me how to see,
Notice every tree…”
This picture was taken early last year at Bronson Canyon, a trail I usually hike with my dog Baxter. The shot was taken before the effects of the Los Angeles drought took hold. About four months later, in August of 2015, I took an (almost) mirror photo of this area, and the long blades of thick green grass had turned brown. The rolling lush hill was overgrown with dead branches. The depth of distance overturned to summer overgrowth despite the lack of moisture.
Very sad. Perhaps the latest El Nino rains have allowed this area to return to green. I haven’t been back since the “brown” photo was taken.
The hillside respite was off the beaten track from a trail where hikers were trailing and talking about their lives in great volume. Loud. Self absorbed, as we all tend to be – perhaps some more than others – in this Hollywood life.
In this space, hawks fly overhead, cutting dark against the bluest skies you can image. I’ll give California it’s due. It does sky like no body else. Daytime blueness, deep with heavily wisps of clouds intermingle with curious chem trails. Night, dark blue with the largest moon I’ve ever seen sitting quietly among twinkling stars beyond atmosphere disturbance.
No wonder Woody Guthrie once described California stars and how they “hang like grapes”.
In some canyon enclaves, there is so much silence, your ears feel like there are sucked in by the pressure of it. Until the sound of a voice speaking about how their job at the hair salon sucks because someone keeps stealing their product cuts through the meditative peace.
So, that day, I left the trails that lead to the Hollywood sign, and the girls in perfectly fitting yoga attire, and shirtless men and joggers huffing behind and beyond me, and found myself in this private nook on a hill…
…across a deep trench carved out by a running stream that had long dried out.
…beyond dried brambles and bracken padded down by ghost hiker’s feet restless to leave the conventional path.
…up the steep and grassy hill near a tree with a view of what looks like wallpaper for a Microsoft OS program.
Just me and my dog, leaving the noise of people chatting about their small problems, about themselves, about me, me, and look what this person did to me.
This area of grass and beauty, that turned brown and likely green again, is my only hope. The rest is all fluff. I’d take a snowstorm any day if I could wake up on a Chelsea NYC morning and call it my home again.
As Bob Dylan once said, “I’m going back to New York City, I do believe I’ve had enough.”
What does this photo inspire in you? Have a look. What does it provoke? Dream a little. What writing can you create from this image?
Write, write, write away. Give Monday something to brag about.