A few steps to the left…

 

"Genial"

“Genial”

 

“The enemy is a very good teacher.”  -the Dalai Lama

The above short video has sat in my head for a couple of days now. It does what only art  seems to be able to do–a visual representation of the deep dark places. An angle of light. A splash of red. A key that somehow unlocks places unknown.

The first time I watched this pile of junk transform, I was struck by the technique. How often did the artist have to step back and gain perspective? How often had the artist walked around the pile, moving the guitar or the wheelbarrow a few centimeters at a time?

Sure, one could watch this and think it an odd stroke of luck, but as I mentioned above, this struck a chord. A familiar but seldom heard note resonated in my being as I followed the camera from used and discarded items into the face of what looks to be a Civil War soldier. A vastly different perspective.

A friend recently sent a book home with me, “The War of Art.” It has nothing to do with Nicholas Cage, for the record. Instead, it is an artist’s brilliant description of that thing that keeps us from taking those few steps to the left. In his book, Steven Pressfield gives the force a name, “Resistance.”

“Resistance is not a peripheral opponent. Resistance arises from within. It is self-generated and self-perpetuated. Resistance is the enemy within.”

Resistance keeps you from changing your perspective. Resistance says a few steps to the left won’t change anything. Resistance says it’s just junk. Resistance is the enemy. But unwillingly, the enemy teaches us something.

In everyone’s life, there are moments when the heap of junk is all that is visible. In those places, there is tremendous pressure to surrender to the chaos. After all, it’s just worthless clutter. Resistance keeps you from changing your perspective. Resistance says a few steps to the left won’t change anything. Resistance says it’s just junk. Resistance is the enemy. But unwillingly, the enemy teaches us something.

It only takes a few steps to the left. Eyes don’t move away from the colossal load of litter. It demands attention. But in only three steps, the picture changes. The senseless moments, the random incidents no longer sit idle. They move and morph into profound meaning. The pile of junk takes shape.

The arbitrary uncovers the articulate, and all those seemingly erratic occurrences have done nothing less than define and give dimension to a work of art.

A few steps turns drivel into definition and Resistance loses.

I followed the camera and realized I am like that soldier. The haphazard has shaped me. What might start as a pile of rubbish becomes a portrait. And all it takes is a few steps to the left.

 


2 Responses to “A few steps to the left…”

  • Lin Wilder Says:

    A psychologist named Lewin theorized about concepts he called foreground vs background- our brains categorize automatically- if they didn’t, we’d not be able to make sense of all the stimuli constantly assaulting us. The data classified as unimportant get dumped into background and those as important as foreground.
    But can be misled–fairly easily, as this shows us. So we have to work a little..to get it.
    Good reminder here.
    So glad you like The War of Art.

    Don’t get the Nicholas Cage reference though? Sun Tzu is who this title brings to my mind-too plebeian?

    • Rebecca Qualls Says:

      Nicholas Cage did a movie called “Lord of War.” Sun Tzu is a much closer reference. 🙂 For some strange reason, every time I hear “The Art of War” I am reminded of Nicholas Cage’s part. Not too plebeian for you, just too random on my part.

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