Chasing the Etherial

In a short story about a watchmaker who strove to make a mechanical butterfly, Nathaniel Hawthorne writes…

Alas that the artist, whether in poetry, or whatever other material, may not content himself with the inward enjoyment of the beautiful, but must chase the flitting mystery beyond the verge of his ethereal domain, and crush its frail being in seizing it with a material grasp.

By attempting to express in words, paint, dance, or music, that which makes our hearts sing, we will always fall short. Much like the impossibility of explaining a dream, we will never capture the magic in our souls…a multi-dimensional, fluid, vital, fleeting compilation…glimpses of emotion, perception, and experience.

LaoTsu says it this way…The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao; The name that can be named is not the eternal name. The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.

There lies the inherent struggle of the artist. Every piece we create will and must fall short and disappoint. We can only hope to hint at the whole. Some aspect may shine through. Scale, color, or form may delight and even awe, but will always only be a fragment.

But, we keep on trying, banging our brains and bodies against the impossible and by so doing learning, sharing the trial, creating something that, because the magic is the source, may still touch a chord for someone else as well.

We can only ever know a thin slice of anyone, even those we love. We can only share slivers of ourselves. It’s all that unknown that keeps things interesting.

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