After finishing my long and involved piece of art that I just had photographed, my first impulse is to do something light, something absurd, something about… well, how about chickens?
I grew up on a farm and one of my chores was feeding the chickens. Lighthearted fun: everyday collecting the eggs, throwing in chickweed that I know they loved, and giving them grain and water. Chickens. Their bobbing heads as they eat. Simple life.
How can you get deep about chickens? Well, how about that chicken or egg question? Now that’s deep. That kind of is at the core of everything, right?
Yesterday, I had this pain. Vivid pain. I know I get random, intense pains when I’m stressed but, with the note in some friend’s concerned voice, the pain seemed a lot worse. I called the doctor, went in. Nothing wrong. “Look again!” He praised me for advocating for myself and looked further. All fine. Afterwards, I walked out. I felt much better. Oh man. What the mind can do. Especially mine. That kind doctor had already met me and we had talked about my mind-body connection. It was still so sweet to get this concrete okay from him.
Last night I was reading further in Hope Jahren’s book. She is now a scientist with this new best seller out about her path to success. Talk about stress! She put herself and her body through so much. And she shares it all – the torments and discomforts through years of pressure. I don’t know why it hadn’t occurred to me that anyone in any career might also deal with difficult emotions which express in ways that are so challenging physically.
Hope Jahren was working on the those “provable” questions of science. Questions that ask in hard fact which came first (not literally): the chicken or the egg? Get the answer. It matters.
But that chicken or egg question comes around to me as an artist, too. I see it not as hard fact, but as a symbol for the always ongoing process – an idea being born leads to a work in progress on to the next idea that emerges … no finite ending.
I read this wonderful interview years ago about the abstract artist, de Kooning. It was late in his life and the interviewer wanted to know what kept him going back to his studio, why he kept painting. De Kooning replied, “Every day I go into my studio and I think, ‘This is the day. This is the day I catch the big fish. ‘”
Or, say … the big chicken.