Saturday, February 25, 2012

Windows

Come Closer

I’ve been noticing a lot of “Small Works” exhibits lately. For every artist that seeks to astonish and captivate with vast canvases, spectacles or installations, there are those who prefer to work small. Taking the adage that good things come in small packages, they dare their audience to take the time to look a little more carefully at what they have to offer. I have several friends in Blogland (you know who you are!) who continue to create amazing little windows onto rich and limitless landscapes of imagination and soul. Slow down, come closer, make the effort, they seem to say, and you will be rewarded.

Point of View

So much depends on point of view. That being deprived of natural light can undermine your mental and physical health is no longer a myth but proven fact. In every workplace I have ever occupied, workers were obsessed with the proximity of windows to their desks, the person with the cubicle nearest to windows receiving regular co-worker visits with the most flimsy of excuses. I’ve worked in offices with no windows from which one had to telephone the front desk in the lobby to find out what the weather was or if the world had ended.   In winter one arrived and left in darkness – sunlight was a weekend luxury.  I’ve also worked in offices in architecturally superior buildings with whole walls made of windows overlooking lawns and flowering trees.  Every movement of the sun, up, down, or briefly behind a cloud was known to the entire staff, from the department head to the janitor.  

Childhood View

I’ve had good, bad and better luck with my home situation. I grew up in a Manhattan apartment with a Western exposure, providing a living room flooded with indirect morning and full afternoon sunlight, and spectacular views through French door style windows of sunsets over the Hudson River. The other 80% of the apartment, which extended back into an area in which the backs of adjacent buildings all backed into each other, was in perpetual darkness and lovingly referred to as The Cave.  My bedroom had a view of brick walls and the curtained windows of other apartment dwellers.  After a few more cave dwellings, eventually I landed in a one room apartment with two street facing windows that gave me more information about the sleeplessness of city life than I required, but also gave me a young tree which over the years grew to reach my second floor vantage point. I even wrote a poem about how it helped me mark time with its changing seasonal displays – and ultimately the gap left behind when they chopped it down one day.  

New Friend

It took nearly a decade in yet another cave dwelling to find myself living in a home with so many windows and so much light that even the cat can’t decide which sunlit spot to sleep in or which view to gaze at, so spoiled for choice.  The science was right after all – sunlight does improve your health, mental and physical. Starting your day looking out onto a whole world also beginning its day, from the clouds gathering on the mountain to discuss the day’s patterns, to the birds arranging their feathers and clearing their throats to sing, to the folks on the early shift making their way to work, is a good thing. It’s one of those little things you could take for granted because you are distracted by what you consider to be bigger more important things.   But there is nothing more important than my morning view, because also outside my window is a small young tree I hope to mark time with and watch grow over many years. 

Small Works

I am so in love with this tree that when I came home a little tipsy the other night I laid my hand on it in proper greeting after watching it all these weeks from above, said thank you, and asked it for a gift. In keeping with the philosophy of small things, it did not yield a large branch but the diminutive twig you see enshrined above - brittle and bare but already putting out buds in anticipation of spring.  I’m going to keep this token as a reminder to be grateful for and mindful of little things.  What little things have you perhaps overlooked lately? A hot shower on a wintry weekend morning followed by eggs fried in butter and an armchair with a book nearby waiting for you to resume reading?  An unexpected message from an old friend you had forgotten, or a new one you didn’t know you had? Fresh air? Clean sheets?  The sound of children laughing? Your dog or cat running across the room like a mad thing just because it can? Take a moment today to put whatever it is that is demanding your full attention down and look out a window. Look out every window. Think of it as your own private Small Works show.

Lookout

And speaking of overlooked things…my apologies to all my Blogfriends whose posts I’ve allowed to accumulate this past week without my giving them the attention they are due.  This weekend I promise I will stop gazing through my own windows long enough to gaze through YOURS.

P.S. - I have just reconsidered omitting the tree poem I mentioned above, so here it is, pulled right out of a very bleak time and mindset in 1998, reminder that since then my point of view has changed in more ways than one! 


Prospect

This morning I awoke to find
that overnight my view had changed.
Oh that a change of heart or mind
could be so easily arranged!

Unseen hands had found and felled
the tree by which I tell the seasons.
Being the kind always compelled
to ask, I heard they had good reasons.

Buds, birds, leaves, snow
had visited its heights outspread
just as high as my studio.
How could I know it was already dead?

Now I see quite clear across
to the other side of the boulevard
another tree, a future loss,
assured and beautiful and hard.

So blow wind, strip, dismember
this life stubborn enough to be
sprouting green in late November
encouraging all the fools who see!

Rip it out by the roots, let
them fill whatever empty space
remains with something quick to set
and plant no new thing in its place.


25 comments:

  1. it is the small thing things
    that will give us the greatest joy. it has been grey here for nearly three weeks, yet not to unpleasant. this afternoon it warmed up a bit. the icicles were dripping from the eaves catching a glorious sun in each drop. i just stood there.

    thank you for this post Gabriela.

    ~robert

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  2. You, my friend, are one of those people who do not need reminding to attend to and appreciate the little things most people overlook! Your eyes and heart are wide open, and every one of your images is a window offering passage between worlds, between souls, to the very depths and to the immeasurable vastness - the sun in a droplet - you are a champion of such moments. Thank you.

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  3. It is so good to read you Gabriella. Thank you. Love your images. Love your windows!

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  4. Thanks Luis! I guess the notion of windows is especially appealing to photographers! We tend to see everything as if we are peering through a window and our cameras allow us to frame what we see and offer it to others. "Point of view" has all kinds of layers of meaning for us! One of the things I love about your photos is that they are the sorts of things DC folks walk by every day and fail to notice in all their beauty, especially the "little things." Yours is a city in which everyone is in a hurry to attend to important matters. I am so grateful you make us all slow down to see what you see. Have a great weekend - what remains of it!

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  5. My life is made up of small things. In false disparagement I say 'small things for small minds', but in reality I depend on the little things and value them immensely. A bird landing on the feeder, a cat delighting in play, new flowers in bloom, a book I haven't read. All cherished in my small life.

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  6. EC - I know what you mean - I have a bit of the false disparagement impulse in me as well - as in, blah, blah, enough already with the meaningful small pleasures, why can't I get some of those big stupid ones once in a while? But deep down I know that the times when I have been most limited in life, whatever the circumstances, have also been when I most appreciated little things like a feeding bird, a playing cat, blooming flowers, a good read - and I found myself so grateful that I was forced to pay attention. And then, that all those other folks I once envied for their supposedly less constrained lives are the ones who are missing out. Have a great week (of small pleasures)!

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  7. Dear Gabriella, i love my window views too,the frontwindows look out on a narrow road,than grass fields and a hill which on top, is lined with a row of trees. Now in winter, with their bare branches they look like a procession of hopping giant dancers.
    When the sun gets down behind them, they look absolute fabulous,through the seasons i watch that view changing, it never bores me.
    This evening, looking out i will think of you and your tree.
    Thanks for a hearthwarming post, let's make a promise to ourselves, let's never work or live in windowless rooms ;) xx

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  8. Love this post, G. I love the views you've shown from your windows and my heart broke when I read the tree you watched grow up was cut down. But now, you have another! I love the views from my windows....in looking out, I'm also looking in. And thank you for the reminders to enjoy the things that matter....those books waiting for me in the comfy armchair, the pile of laundry soon to be washed and smelling fresh, clean sheets and the people who give me joy and support! You are among them! Thanks so much!

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  9. Dear Renilde - thank you so much for the description of your window views! It's true, isn't it, that watching the procession of the seasons every year and how it transforms the landscape never gets boring! I am looking at my tree right now and thinking of you.

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  10. Greetings, Patti! You are of course one of the unnamed Blogfriends I mentioned whose small works are like windows that reward the patient viewer with vast worlds! My new tree is very much like the old one I lost in both its appearance and its placement outside my window. I can't wait to see it in bloom, and then full leaf, and then fall colors! It was a sad day indeed when that old tree in Manhattan was suddenly gone. It happened during a time when it felt I could not hold onto anything good in my life for long, and was one of those "not the tree too??" moments. Maybe I'll edit this post to include the poem. I left it out because it didn't reflect the far more positive attitude I've since developed! All the best to you.

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  11. Hi Gabriella :-) i'm smiling looking at this post and I'm fashinated about your works... really inspired you know..

    finally I like a lot our blogworld we have created really nice friendship and this is so wonderfull...
    really

    your work in always so nice

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  12. Laura, your smile is worth a thousand words! Mille grazie.

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  13. Hi G/TT - I love this tree and know it will be a good friend to you, and that you will share its many moments of growth, renewal, loss, withdrawal...and will mark them all in your beautiful way. I love the small things. I love paying attention and noticing it. I sometimes worry that I have lost my sense of big-scale and uber-importnat; I touch it for a bit and then remember oh no, its the beauty in the little things that matter every day. Thanks for all the little things...

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  14. TT/G - F and I sit here at the other side of the globe - home at last - and both of us said we know that tree - we have looked upon it and shared its strong bareness against the white of new fallen snow - in fact we have a photo of it. Such fond memories of our time looking out of your light filled windows upon new snow - and also after a good night of food, wine etc and company. I smile. B

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  15. Fiona - there are enough good people out there with their eyes on the big picture - I feel comfortable leaving it in their care. Seems to me the little things are more likely to be overlooked or misunderstood, so they need champions like you and me! You can be sure I will be sharing more images of my new tree friend. I don't think I have the discipline - or the farsightedness - to do a photography project documenting its changes on a regular basis, "The Year of the Tree" or somesuch, but it is an irresistible subject I'm sure I won't tire of anytime soon. All the best to you!

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  16. Barry, how wonderful to know that this little tree already has such history to it, and friends so far away! Thinking of the next photo I post, perhaps as the spring blossoms appear, and you and F saying "I know that tree! Look at it now!" ... my turn to smile.

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  17. It is almost always the small things, I have found, that bring the most joy to my world. Small things, small works of art, small acts of kindness. It's the small things that get in between the cracks in our daily armor. And I'm so thankful for them - and such a beautiful post that lovingly reminds me to stop and appreciate them. Thank you for posting your gorgeous poem, your beautiful photos, and your lovely words.

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  18. Such a delicately composed post full of light and wonder!

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  19. Hey Phoenix, thanks for the comment, glad you liked this one - it's kind of in sync with your recent post about ideas that changed your life for the better. I think no matter how busy we are hankering after stuff just beyond our grasp - which is not a bad thing, just one of those things that can go very quickly from positive and motivating to obsessive and damaging - we need to pause every once in a while and examine not only what brought us to this point but also what's right in front of us and how appreciative we are for all for it. That gratitude thing is so key! Happy Leap Day!

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  20. Thanks, Kass. It isn't easy to keep a sense of wonder sometimes, not to mention light! It makes it all worthwhile to know that if I can make the effort to examine and express these things and put them out there, I can sometimes bring a little light and wonder into someone else's life! That is one of those little things that is actually quite a big thing! All the best to you.

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  21. You are so right!!
    There are so many small things they are just waiting for us "round the corner".
    So, just we open our eyes to see or to smell and to learn!!!!

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  22. Monika, yes, we must always keep our eyes (and hearts!) open for whatever may be around the corner. To often we are so busy complaining we miss what is right in front of us! Hope all is well with you - sending you my love and a warm hug!

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  24. Oh i did comment on this post dear Gabriella. Maybe i forgot to type the password and clicked away. :-S That sometimes happen.
    Again: as i always do after reading your words i sigh. Because your words bring me a coming home feeling, you talk about all kinds of emotions, but there is a shelter where you can feel safe and feel hope. Your blog is such a comforting, safe shelter for me.
    This post is like spring, to notice all little buds in your heart, wating to bloom.
    Wonderful post, awesome photographs and beautiful poem.
    Thank you dear Gabriella for letting me look through your inspiring window.
    xoxo and a big hug!

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  25. Dear Momo - better late than never! Yes, it seems the commenting mechanisms on Blogger have been a little erratic lately. But I can always feel your sympathy and support from far away, even without words - and especially because your work is in my home and keeps me company every day, they are indeed windows into other worlds where such strong passionate unique women exist, but they are also windows into your heart.

    I am so happy to know that my blog feels so safe to you - it is exactly the sort of space I want to offer to readers - come in, sit down, make yourself at home, think, feel, come again as a friend always welcome.

    Enjoy the week - spring will be here soon!

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