Sit. Sumi Circle. Sit. I remember the instruction from a Contemplative Art class I took fifteen years ago. Waiting motionless, eyes soft, feet on floor and the blank, white paper, ink, brush: Pause. Lift arm-brush. Dip. Inscribe circle. Unfurl line onto white space. I am revealed in the mark: a collapsed edge, unmet ends, a blob of ink, a waver, a dwindling scratch. Everything is in the weight of hand meeting substrate through brush. This is a marriage. Commit.
What is at stake, in this circle, in this line? Great success? Immanent failure? The voices yammer on, yet, almost imperceptibly, they also begin to recede. There is so much in that ragged little mark, the quavery and dented circle.
These crooked lines, these primitive circles are envoys of the longing, disoriented, joyful, naked flops of my human person. And they are surprisingly elusive. I must grow toward the sun, sense the looming storm over the darkening gold meadow. I must become this mark, be born as it is born. There is no auto-pilot in an art practice. The ones that are worth keeping are far between.
It’s difficult to simply attend to things. To do them whole-heartedly, no saving up for dessert. A piece of paper. Ink and water. To be willing to sit there and wait. And to recognize when the mind has finally become exhausted of plotting escapes, when a gesture has become larger than the hoping to get on with it. This is practice.