“From the age of six, I had a passion for copying the form of things and since the age of fifty I have published many drawings, yet of all I drew by my seventieth year there is nothing worth taking in to account. At seventy-three years I partly understood the structure of animals, birds, insects and fishes, and the life of grasses and plants. And so, at eighty-six I shall progress further; at ninety I shall even further penetrate their secret meaning, and by one hundred I shall perhaps truly have reached the level of the marvelous and divine. When I am one hundred and ten, each dot, each line will possess a life of its own.”
Progress finds its way into my life in different forms. This image above is of a journal that I spent time drawing in. Like the quote above from Katusushika Hokusai, it shows my own development over the period of a year. Keeping a journal of drawing for me has been an exercise in moving ahead with commitment. Drawing does not come easily to me. It is one of those super powers that I wish that I just arrived here on earth with in my suitcase. Alas, this was not the case. This quote gives me heart.
I like the idea that each line "will possess a life of its own". I can look back on a finished drawing and see the age that I am. It shows me where I am thinking. I am able to see how dedicated to a particular drawing I am or not. Is this the same thing going on in my life at the time? Am I letting life slip by or am I paying close attention - as in a drawing? I have yet to track such an endeavor. Truth be told this sounds like it would take the fun out of drawing for me, if I was paying attention to how conscious I am being in what I lay down in pencil. However, here in lies the rub. In order to be mindful of our life and our progress - we must pay some conscious attention to where we've been in order to know where we are going.
Taking time to listen to our life is a deeply fulfilling practice. It prepares us in ways that we don't really know yet - how it will indeed serve us. The line we lay down shows us what is important at any particular moment. A careful consideration of following the map of lines can reveal where I have been. The pause of looking may create a new thought or spark a memory that comes from a place that we do not know. Why is this calling me at this particular moment, right now? What is being revealed to me?
Progress to me as I live my life seems more and more about taking the time to just observe. Observe the lines that I see. The line of a tree branch on a strong oak reflects back to me the strength required in holding a life together. That knob protruding out - on an elbow of maple, finds a scarred outline that reveals inner healing over - in the tree. This same process mirrors to me what I am seeing in those lines at that moment. My own lines of progress find similar bumps and bruises, along with smooth beauty all enclosed within me. Meaningful progress is slow and simmering in a life. What is the meaning here - right now - in this picture moment?