Sunday, June 5, 2011

Serendipity

There are two approaches to writing stories or making art that seem at odds to me. The former is when a picture is envisioned in its entirety and executed as envisioned. Or, when a writer creates a story in his mind and through one careful sentence after another leads a reader through its channels to the epiphany.

Juxtaposed against this approach is the writer who creates characters, sets a story in motion and pretty much watches the story emerge from the uncertain fog. Or the painter who begins with a pallet of colors and spreads his or her sails seeking a favorable wind. This latter approach relies on intuitions and instincts, and along the way enjoys the wonder of serendipity, those happy accidents that lift a painting or story above the mundane.

For the artists in any medium there's a wonderful quality to serendipity, that experience of finding something you weren't expecting to find. It's often my approach with

So the question is, how can we live our lives in such a way so as to experience a greater variety of "happy accidents"?

Too many of us get locked down by our own routines. They are comfortable, and can even become almost ritualistic. I think here of the narrator in The Accidental Tourist sets out to insure that every detail is covered and every environment controlled. No disconcerting surprises here, but then again no happy accidents either.

John Updike called boredom one of the four major drivers behind our actions. The manner of our life approach may contribute to that flattening out of our interests and experiences so that we no longer experience the exhiliaration of joyful discovery. There are so many fascinating people and places in the world. What causes us to disengage from life in favor of safety?

Maybe it's because we don't like to release control. Maybe we're afraid of the unknown. Maybe we dislike being disappointed. Maybe it's a bit like stopping at garage sales where after forty years you feel like it's just a waste of time. The thing is, sometimes there really are treasures waiting for you, but you just let them pass.

This week, make it a point to do something you wouldn't normally do, something outside of your routines... and enjoy the moment.

Top Right: Serendipity. I painted a background, then spray painted red enamel through a wire mesh. Afterwards I left the panel outside in the rain overnight to complete the background upon which the face carbon black acrylic was painted. Click to enlarge.

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