Back in Balance (Hopefully)

Wow: after what seems like a month of non-stop office work being thrown at me, and a resulting mental and physical state in which I was left with nothing but the ability to cry dumbly and make inept gestures, thanks to a general loss of hand-eye coordination, I’m attempting to come back out of captivity to the interests of my professional overlords. And that means reading for real, and not just the few pages I’ve managed over lunch and/or before bedtime before falling into a comatose stupor.

One of the books I’ve started is Frederick Franck’s Zen Seeing, Zen Drawing. It’s been on my shelf for a couple of years, but now that I’ve gotten involved with a figure-drawing group, I thought it might be high time to make use of any resources I had to help me out. So far, I’ve not come upon any advice geared specifically toward drawing technique– but that’s fine, especially after encountering Franck’s description of what drawing is for him: a way– namely, one of many “lifelong disciplines that lead you to where you really live.”* It’s precisely such a way that I feel I haven’t yet found– or maybe, haven’t found the necessary dedication to let it work its magic on me. That lack has been especially evident over this last busy month, when I’ve allowed activities devoted to paycheck-earning to overwhelm the rest, or at least the majority, of my existence, consequently setting to the side an exploration and/or commitment to any of those disciplines– writing, drawing, what have you– that help me to feel, and maybe even be, human.

I get a sense that this impression I have about work vs. life is similar to one of the closing statements made in another book I finally finished, Fritjof Capra’s classic, The Tao of Physics. In summing up his exploration of the similarities between physics and (Eastern) mysticism/s, Capra asserts that “Science does not need mysticism and mysticism does not need science; but man needs both.”** Update the gendered terminology common to the mid-1970s, when this was written, and I’ll give my complete assent to that pronouncement. In this arrangement, “science” seems just a bit equivalent to the place of “work” in my current circumstances; much like the March sisters discovered in one of the Little Women books, I, at least, don’t function well at all when I’m handed total leisure time, and given all the hours in the world to write whatever I want, for as long as I want, I crumble in wordless ineptitude. I’ve found I need some sort of limiting, unrelated activity to keep me productive– but unfortunately, the balance between those limits and my more creative free time all too often gets out of whack.

Knock on wood, but I may have rounded the bend of insanity at work. Now let’s hope for a return to writing, and to a real, committed search for, and real commitment to, those homeward-leading disciplines Franck spoke of.


* Frederick Franck, Zen Seeing, Zen Drawing: Meditation in Action (New York: Bantam Books, 1993), 18.

** Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism (Boulder: Shambhala, 1975), 306.


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