Monday, 1 March 2010

Youth, Age and the Journey.

I have spoken of it before but I repeat. I remember when I thought my parents knew nothing. My father worked as a painter in a shipyard and my mother well she was just my mother. What could they know that I already did not know? It was later, with wisdom, that I knew the truth. My father had not ended up there because he had no brains but because he had eight brothers and sisters and a father who was a coal miner. At the age of fourteen he had to leave school to play his part in earning money to put food on the table. My mothers’ father had been killed in the war and her mother (my grandmother, who strangely I thought knew everything) had struggled to raise two girls in difficult times so she had left school to work in the jute mills of Dundee.

When we grow older it is easy to look at youth and remember when we were just like them. The next step is to wish that we could go back there and take with us the knowledge we have gained over the years. To have the fire of youth and the wisdom of age seems such an attractive proposition. The trouble is we would be aware of all the pain that cannot be avoided. We would be aware of exactly what was ahead in terms of the ageing process. To know there would come a time when I was still fit enough to run up the stairs but to then stand and wonder why I was there.

When I was teaching I looked at the young and became aware of how far they yet had to travel. I saw the adventure, the excitement the new possibilities with the speed of modern development. They as yet did not have the scars and the pains of life. Thankfully they were also blissfully unaware of the journey before them. When I see a baby in a pram I feel all of this, but I also worry of what lies ahead if we older ones do not start behaving differently in terms of our planet.

Life is indeed a journey and we are all at different stages of that journey. What is yet to come is a mystery. We all have greater wisdom that we did in our younger years. But there is still the mystery, that mystery brings with it a sanity we would not have if we knew the future.

The artist is aware of the world with its pains and it joys, its beauty and its disgrace. We have an inner urge to share this with others through our chosen mediums, and we are fortunate in that we have the ability to do just that. We also have an obligation to share it with others. The young may look at the older and wonder what if anything they have to teach but we strive to express in art what we do indeed know. We do not paint only for our own pleasure but to share the gained insight of the years. We also know that the young will one day be the elders and what we have taught them will begin to bear fruit. So we do not share in vain.

This is the way of Tao.

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