Authentic Impressionism & Mindfulness
Imagine if this moment was the first time you ever opened your eyes; you look at the world with the eyes of a newborn baby. You wouldn’t know if that thing before you is a tree, a rock, a house or a mountain. You don’t know what a flower is, or a table is? You don’t even know what pink is or yellow or brown! You respond… you just respond – to the sparkling light, to the play of the shadows, to the hint of this color, a dash of that color. You are just being in the moment. In the “non-referential” state of being. A spiritual place of being in the present, of just being in the presence of.
Children naturally have this. As hinted above, a newborn does not have a concept of objects, they dance with the energy of the world (in a manner of speaking). Everything is new! As they grow a bit, they don’t know how to refer to yesterday, tomorrow. They live in the moment.
Monet once said to a friend that he “wished he had been born blind and then had suddenly gained his sight so that he could have begun to paint…without knowing what the objects were that he saw before him.” it is only when an artist does not know what she sees before her can she respond to color because it is only then that she can see color.
So, here, following Monet’s example we must learn to see with new eyes, to see for the first time. In a non-referential state, a Zen-like state. To see a lemon as a lemon, we are drawing upon our pre-conceived notion, of our past experiences/memories of what a lemon should look like, what shape and color it should be. What about our concepts of what the world should be like and what people should behave like; what a relationship should be like; what a parent should have or should not have given us; what our friends should or should not do for us; what our children should or should not become; what should they be doing and what should they not; who should they talk to or who should they not date; What I should have done, what I should not have been like… Isn’t all this just defined by our past programming from our parents, families, what the culture/religion dictates?
But how about being in a state of surprise, this state of brand-new way of looking at the world? How about living in a state wonder – now? “I wonder what that yellow-ey object in front of me is? (What is yellow?) Ooh, look at those pinks, greenish, orange-ey here, and those magentas, and blues and lilacs over there. Shift from the concept of a lemon into the state of enchantment with the “lemon”. What if we take this philosophy to our lives and live in a state of enchantment and surrender? A way of living in possibilities and of mindfulness of every present moment; of opening our eyes for the first time and marveling at what is present in front of us and be carried away (or not) by it; instead of reacting from our past experience of the same old – same old. And then instead of living in our past and living from our past (and as a result perpetuating that same into our future), we live in the enchantment of that moment.
And, perhaps, that is what the impressionists/the insurgents were striving towards as well.
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