When it’s over before it starts

You know that feeling when you catch a whiff of something familiar? It’s there and then it’s gone. You try to place it, but the moment and whatever memory it’s attached to is over. There’s a kind of aching missing feeling in its place, like a dream that you can’t quite remember.

I’ve been feeling the inverse of that feeling lately. It goes something like – this is an important glimpse of my life, right now. But by the time I’ve identified that right now is even happening, it’s over. It’s slippery. 

A couple of examples:

I was out on a trail in the snowy woods on my fat tire bike. Fat biking is hard work, so even though the temperature was hovering somewhere around 0 degrees when I stopped I felt warm. I gazed up into the trees filled with both snow and sun, contrasted with the bright blue shadows all around me, and could just feel my heart beating and my warm body even knowing the temperatures were frigid all around me. Like, clothing was crunchy type cold. I felt alive and grateful for my beating heart and being able to look up and around at that scene. I felt almost deliriously grateful for daylight.

Winter 09Then, I was just driving. It was the usual route – pulling out of my driveway, leaving my neighborhood. The truck registered -31. That car is a drama queen; I think the temperature was actually more like -25. But still: it was cold. Again, with that sunlight though: it lit the mountains and boughs of trees heavy with snow all around me with this bright, lemony light. It was punchdrunk, motherboard of your brain explode type light, especially if you haven’t seen anything like it in a few months. Again, I felt deeply grateful and calm.

And both these moments were over as soon as I recognized them for what they were. Like the scent that I pick up on briefly and then lose completely, those feelings were both fleeting but also tied to something really deep in me. 

They say it’s the little things that make up a life. I’m trying to get used to this idea, that the notion of an even-keeled, stable type of an existence is made up – that life is highs, lows, and just really quick sparks of something that is over before it’s started.

It’s kind of a similar thing with painting. I find that if I look too closely, if I paint over something too many times or work on it too much, the thing that I’m after – that movement, the light, the moment – disappears into something that looks fraud. It’s like life trying too hard. It’s like if I sat down and said “okay, self, let’s have a moment”.

There’s something in the middle here, to feeling and seeing the fleeting, and letting it fill me and a canvas up, but not trying too hard to stay there. 


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