Petroglyph at Boca Negra Canyon, Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque New Mexico

Have compassion for everyone you meet,
even if they don’t want it.
What appears bad manners, an ill temper
or cynicism is always a sign of things no ears
have heard, no eyes have seen.
You do not know what wars are going on
down there where the spirit meets the bone.

–Miller Williams

My friend Jill includes a carefully chosen poem at the bottom of her emails. This one arrived this week, and its message is timely. After being the in the splendid isolation of the desert landscape of New Mexico, the vitriol of political rhetoric sounds particularly harsh and personal. I keep thinking about the question Laurie Anderson asked John Cage: Is life getting worse or is it getting better? His answer is an ongoing comfort to me, particularly at times like these: “Of course it is getting better. Laurie. It’s just that it is happening so slowly.”

In talking about Miller Williams’ poetry, Leon Stokesbury refers to the central paradox of his work, that “humankind is compelled to seek what is true and meaningful about existence and the universe, yet has only observation and reason as aids.” To which I answer, of course we have more aids than those two. But we don’t know how to describe what they are or how to employ them powerfully. Part of being a painter for me is to seek out those other aids, and the seeking often takes place in that zone beyond language. But it is happening. So. Slowly.

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