The Brushstrokes of Our Lives
The amazing painting featured in this post is by my good friend and artist Dan Campbell. It is titled “Ride Like the Wind.” You can see more of Dan’s art at dancampbellart.com
The Brushstrokes of Our Lives
A man on a beach. Children playing. A country at war. Brushstrokes in a painting that has something to teach us.
It is the late 1960’s. The US is embroiled in the Viet Nam war. Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh is walking on a beach in Sri Lanka when he encounters some children playing there. It is for the young monk a moment of spiritual enlightenment…a moment to reflect. You’ll find the full account in his book “Living Buddha, Living Christ,”
I note in that account that he mentions a children’s seaside playground that was “without industrial pollution.” Thich Nhat Hanh knew then what the Native American’s tried to teach my white forefathers:
Treat the earth well.
It was not given to you by your parents,
It was loaned to you by your children.
We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors,
We borrow it from our children.
I was a child myself in the late 60’s, soon to become a young man, soon to be full of the fire that drives the young: zeal, passion, hope, wildness, ambition. As a young person, I was motivated by what I will do rather than what I have done.
Now I am 60, almost 61, and things have changed. I am much more mindful of my legacy, as humble as it is. I find myself asking questions like:
“What have I done? What of value have I left behind? What have I given, and what have I borrowed from my children?”
I have many moments to reflect.
This morning I reflected on the tiny choices I have made over the past 60 years, the little drops of water that make up the river of my life. “Study the ant,” the Bible advises, and so it is useful to examine the little things that work together to make something big. The ant. The word. The smile. The breath. The wince. The moment. The drop. The molecule. The atom.
And so I meditate on the humble penny, that thin and almost worthless sliver of copper that, en masse, make up the almighty dollar. For the past 60 years, I have voted with those pennies. What I bought with them decided what was made, if and where there would be factory, and if and where there would be industrial waste. In my backyard perhaps, or someone else’s? On a beach somewhere, maybe Sri Lanka?
Little things that make big things. Brushstrokes, that make paintings, that have something to teach us.
Peace be with you, my beloved.
Books by Brant
For Christmas 2018, my brother, a pilot with American Airlines, gave me a gift that became the experience of a lifetime: 12 months of free travel anywhere American Airlines flies.
Thus began a year long journey that took me from the rocky coasts of Portugal, to the hot sands of Morocco, to the mangrove swamps of Panama, with many places beyond and between. In cheap hostels and the backwaters of the nomadic milieu, I discovered a treasure chest of colorful and fascinating people. I tell their stories and a bit of my own.
The trip became as much a spiritual and emotional journey inward as it was a literal outward one, and found me in a place those of you who are in the second half of life are likely to recognize.
With references to the philosophies of Carl Gustav Jung, Jesus, Bob Dylan, and the Buddha, Blue Skyways is an international romp by a man in his 60’s with not much more than a pack on his back, and still much to learn.
A suspense/thriller novel!
When a psychology doctoral student Brian Drecker uses advanced software to analyze dreams from around the world, he discovers odd patterns that cannot be explained. Where one person's dream ends, another's begins. Unique objects appear again and again...even though the dreamers are complete strangers.
Drecker discovers the patterns form a map pointing to an ancient, lost object. Soon after, he is mysteriously murdered, leading his deadbeat brother and estranged wife on an international race to find the treasure, and the murderer. Along the way, the troubled couple are opposed by dark forces of the religious underworld, who launch a global pandemic to ensure the map of dream's secret remains lost forever.