I got swept into a conversation much by accident today. Two women were pointing at something out the window of the library and talking in hushed tones. They walked outside. They talked. They came back inside. They talked some more. Then they came over by me to return to their seats and when I made eye contact, one woman said to me, motioning to the other woman, "She says they're planting the trees all wrong. She says they won't live long. She knows about this stuff."
Backing up to the library was a newly developed grocery store and there were about 10 men planting trees into holes they'd dug. The landscaping efforts were well underway.
The other woman began sharing her point of view. "You see, the rule of thumb for gardening is that the hole must be bigger than the root ball or the bulb, and in this case, with our Oklahoma red dirt, you want it even bigger, at least double. And another thing, the roots should be even with the top of the ground. They aren't planting the trees deep enough. It just makes me sick to my stomach."
"I noticed you were reading a gardening book. It seems to be your passion," I said to her.
As the conversation went on, she told me about her herbs and invited me to an upcoming local show and sale. Then she spoke of the trees out in front of the library. Have you seen them? They have them pulled so tightly on all sides with wire, but what helps a tree grow strongly is learning to move and adjust on its own in the wind. They're making it weaker by restricting it."
"I know I get weaker if I'm restricted," I said.
"Ha! Isn't that the truth," the other woman added.
"I just want the trees to get good use," the herbologist said.
"You may get to use them as firewood," the other woman said chuckling. Then she added, "But seriously, if you want to walk over and talk to them about it, I'll go with you. I don't know anything about trees, but I could stand there with you."
The woman opted not to go and returned to her chair and her book.
Her friend said to me, "Surely they know what they are doing. I mean, they wouldn't be landscapers if they didn't, right? If you do something enough times you start to learn something. Certainly they've learned things."
I nodded. Her and I went on to talk about wild flowers and vines and killing plants and fascinating Argan trees complete with goats that climb the branches.
The women had different views on how to see the world. One took a more black and white approach, and was cynical towards the gardening know-how witnessed around her. She wished to fix the problems and help by passing on her knowledge. while the other woman danced around in the grey areas a bit, trusting that the things playing out before her would work out in the end, no matter what. She felt no responsibility on the matter, largely because she didn't know much about it.
When I read Robert Henri's words (shared above) I thought of these two women and how, though setting eyes on the same scenario, two very different views were taken in by them and expressed through conversation with me.
This is why everyone's art has the potential to be so different. Has the potential to show us something we've never witnessed before. But in order to do so, the artist has to be a little less concerned with exact replicas of reality and a little more daring to express something that they alone extracted from reality and combined with their own active imagination. To give us "the fullness of his fancy" (Robert Henri's phrase) an artist must say "this is what I hoped this could be, and then by my expression of it, so it was."
Where do you notice beauty that gives you pleasure? Where do you imagine it to be? How can you express it to others and thereby enjoy it all over again? What's your fancy? How can you show us?
In so doing, you are revealing more of your self and we love you for it because it calls forth our own unique art. It connects us back to our individuality and invites us to take some creative risks with our self-expression. What's more, it explains why our own creative expression ALWAYS feels like a risk because if we're being true to our voice, we haven't seen it done before, not like we would do it. All the more risky because doing it once isn't going to cut it. To strut our stuff it's going to take doing it again and again and again (we are far greater than a one hit wonder) and most people get shy or frustrated before they've given themselves ample time to show up. Imagine that, showing off your fancy takes TIME. Can you risk 10 years? 20? More?