I don't like quoting poetry, or rather I don't like the stereotype associated with people who quote poetry. In your mind (even now) a switch gets flipped. This stereotype makes us predisposed to shrug off whatever will follow - eyes poised to roll.
That being said, I'm going to reference a poem here. Suspend the stereotype, if only momentarily. Often, without realizing, a verse from one of Frost's poems gets stuck in my head - sloshing around like a pair of jeans on mid-cycle,
“But bid life seize the present?
It lives less in the present
Than in the future always,
And less in both together
Than in the past. The present
Is too much for the senses,
Too crowding, too confusing -
Too present to imagine.”
It's easy to delineate, not so easy to grapple with. Personally I appreciate someone posing a question to the idiom-toting Instagrammers (myself included), "What if it's too much? What if it's not possible to fully 'seize the day'?"
Plenty of points can be made for either side, but for the purpose of this painting let's look at it this way. We understand through context, which more often than not comes from the passage of time. Be it stretching toward the past or reaching for the future, it gives us a vantage point from which to evaluate our lives/events/etc.
You may not know "X" is important or meaningful until you realize it yielded "Y" - however directly or indirectly.
Perspective is a beautiful, changing thing. It shifts by the second along with light, our movements in the world, and so forth. And our contrasting view points, both in a singular and plural sense, are what make for a rich, dynamic outlook.
That's what is so fantastic about Georgia O'Keeffe's 'Pedernal - From The Ranch 1' it takes the immediate present and crams what O'Keeffe famously referred to as "The Far Away" right up next to it. You know the schtick in sci-fi movies where they explain time travel through a wormhole using a sheet of paper folded in half? O'Keeffe beat 'em to it.
We see "The Far Away" in the form of Pedernal, a narrow mesa just 12 miles from O'Keeffe's home in New Mexico. It's visible through the eye socket of a skull poised in the foreground. O'Keeffe painted the Pedernal at least 29 times in her life. This devotion started as an act of convenience, but became something much deeper. O'Keeffe didn't know what it would mean to her at the outset - how could she've? Being greeted by its familiar shape day in day out, learning to capture how it gently disappears into the sky, it became an act of love. Theologian Belden Lane said in her study on landscapes,
"One begins to suspect that the contemplation of any ordinary thing, made extraordinary by attention and love, can become an occasion for glimpsing the profound."
So maybe it's a bit heady (or too on the nose?), but it's possible that our best chance at understanding and appreciating comes through simultaneous engagement. Seeing the future through the present.
We can't bury ourselves in the present all the time, nor can we let ourselves get caught up planning our life away. Not getting swept up in the present is easier said than done. But if we can paint the proverbial mountains in our respective backyards, if only for an hour so, maybe we can get a little closer to appreciating the big picture.
And here's the playlist to help connect the dots. Thoughtful and far out, these are songs that bridge time if only for 41 minutes. So put down whatever you've got that beeps, ditch the tv, and try starin' out your window for a bit.