Seeing Beauty in Australia | HartQuill.com

Seeing Beauty in Australia

The beloved poet Rumi wrote about beauty, and a favorite quote has been, “Beauty surrounds us”. But much to my surprise, I discovered just lately that the full quote is actually, “Beauty surrounds us, but usually we need to be in a garden to know it”. Yes! He was making the point that we tend to tune in on a narrow bandwidth for seeing beauty. This was really driven home to me personally when I began to travel.

My old lens sought landscapes lush and green

I started my travels almost 20 years ago in paradise: Hawaii. When I close my eyes and picture the plumeria trees, the heavenly scent floats back to me, and with it all of my memories of Hawaii. You might imagine that this would be my epitome of landscape beauty, but that is not true.

I grew up immersed in rugged, expansive and stunning landscapes, with lush green summers and glorious fall color. Art was my passion, and my goal was to show people the beauty that surrounds them, every day. My eyes became used to seeing the Earth in a certain way, that of the landscapes I painted. And when I began traveling, that was the lens that I took with me.

HartQuill_190823a

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Suffice to say, Hawaii was a delight. But, being as lush as it is, it did not challenge my idea of beauty one whit. In fact, it only helped to “raise the bar”. Australia, on the other hand, significantly challenged my viewpoint.

Australian summer started to stretch me

We arrived in Australia in December, the beginning of their summer. To say that Aussie summers are harsh is an understatement. The intense sun and heat are severe and unforgiving. In extremely short order, the grass is fried to a crisp, and the eucalyptus trees take on a dull drabness. In my eyes the landscape was colorless; as Mom would say, “nothing to write home about”.

Eventually, we arrived at a point near Adelaide, South Australia, where we decided to stay put for awhile. Daily I tramped up and down, again and again, a dusty little dirt road for my exercise. Usually I walked an hour a day, so that meant many laps of the same short road. For personal safety I did not venture off my route, as the area was somewhat remote from town.

I learned a broader way of seeing beauty

Day after day there was seemingly nothing new to look at. I was therefore forced to examine every detail and nuance of that road to relieve the boredom. And little-by-little, the beauty blossomed before my eyes.

Like Monet, I love the play of light on a landscape. I have tried to capture that often in my own paintings. I started to schedule my walks for dusk. At that time of day, the sky was softening from hard azure to soft pinks and apricot. The sunlight turned deep golden, burnishing the rough trunks and dry leaves of the eucalyptus trees that rimmed the road.

And the birds came out to play

And, perhaps best of all, the pink galahs and cockatoos came out to play. The respite from the torrid heat was their invitation to soar and cavort. The distinctive calling of the birds in unison echoed over the valley. Previously I had only ever seen a cockatoo imprisoned in a pet cage back home. Something about those birds playing together unleashed a feeling of freedom in my soul. It was if they were calling out to me, “Open your eyes, open your eyes; come play with us!”

The brown, dry grassland receded, and I was surrounded by beauty that I could not see at first glance. That was because I had been looking through the same old lens, using it as a measuring stick to judge and reject.

There are many lessons on the big road of travel

All these years since, I have very fond memories of that little dirt road. I can picture it clearly to this day. It opened my eyes wider, and I saw deeper. I spent many a walk along that road, whispering “show me the magic”,  for I was also struggling with loneliness. And it did reveal itself to me, as told in my story Miracle in the Park.

Being a landscape artist, I believed I knew this already. And to a certain degree, I did. But throughout my travels, I am still learning it in a deeper and deeper way. I am falling in love with the world. Thank you, Australia, for showing me a different way of looking.

It’s a big world out there. Seeing beauty everywhere takes desire and a broader point of view. But, it’s always there to be found, for eyes that want to see.

Seeing Beauty in Australia

susanlhart  

Seeing Beauty in Australia © Susan L Hart 2019

Forest photo courtesy Pixabay, Pexels
Australia photo courtesy Sabel Blanco, Pexels

Hart Quill Blog | Hawaiians and the Sacred Aloha | HartQuill.com

Hawaiians & the Sacred Aloha

Hawaii is one of the major tourist spots in the world, and if you spend all of your time in Honolulu and Waikiki, a tourist experience is exactly what you will have. However, when I ventured outside of the blatantly tourist areas, Hawaii began to really show herself to me. I discovered islands of breathtaking tropical beauty, a slower speed of living, a quiet grace, and inevitably I found the spirit of “aloha”.

It’s not just a word, but a way of living

Aloha. From the native Hawaiian language, this word is rooted in “alo”, meaning presence or face, and “ha”, meaning breath. Aloha is most commonly used for both hello and goodbye, however, this word runs much deeper than these superficial meanings. In the Hawaiian culture, words have “mana” (pronounced: mah’nah, meaning spiritual or divine power), and aloha is among the most sacred. Aloha is a greeting of love when expressed with sincerity.

Aloha is embraced by Hawaiians and haoles alike. (Haole is the Hawaiian term for anyone not native Hawaiian or Polynesian.) The culture as a collective practices the spirit of aloha in daily life and human interaction. The essence of Hawaii has this subtle way of pulling one back to the basics of life – the beauty of nature, and what is important between human beings.

Your words have great power

Aloha. This one word typifies the power of our language, and how we affect other people with it. Words are potent, therefore it behooves us to choose and use them wisely. In this muddled up, confused and too-often-angry world, sometimes we feel powerless to change it in any significant, positive way. However our words, over which we have sole control and responsibility, are one way we can do that.

Aloha. Change the world.

AlohaPower

Photo courtesy Pixabay, Pexels

susanlhart

Hawaiians & the Sacred Aloha © Susan L Hart

Winding Roads to Wisdom | "Black & White & Rainbows" | HartQuill.com

Black & White & Rainbows

Right, wrong,
North, south,
Black, white.
Which way do I go?

I have walked the flat
grey plain of existence
that this third dimension
can often be.
Wandering and exploring
the monotones of a
sometimes desolate place,
where the next small
blade of grass stands
out starkly in the landscape,
as it cries out to the sky.

And I have wondered –
If white is all color,
and black its absence,
what of all the colors in between?

So I’ve left that dull plain
and I’m climbing
a magnificent mountain.
I will not rest until
I discover all my colors.
The trek is exhilarating,
the views are breathtaking,
and I’m heading for that
brilliant peak yonder.
It’s the place of my dreams,
where rainbows gleam
and eagles soar,
and my soul can be free.

susanlhart

Black & White & Rainbows © Susan L Hart

Winding Road to Wisdom | A Return to Passion | HartQuill.com

Return to Passion & Blogging

I’m discovering that blogging is good for the soul. At least, that is, if one is writing from the heart. (I strive for that.) Strangely, my blog writing is uncovering an older passion of mine: ART. For almost 20 years I painted and sold my work professionally, and I taught art. I love to create, and there was a deep sense of fulfillment from both the doing and the teaching. That was all before my partner and I sold our possessions and set out on the road to travel. Then the “world of writing” opened up to me.

This hooks into another deep passion: The Earth. My art pieces, all those years, were primarily landscapes. I wanted people to see the beauty that is all around them, every day. Earth and nature are two of the themes in my writing; there have been posts here and on my Hart Haiku blog that focus on the beauty of nature, and its healing power. And now suddenly,  I’m feeling a deep need to (at least occasionally) supplement my words with my own images.

Words with images. I’ve been fascinated with the power of combining the two for as long as I can remember. It appears that I’m coming full circle from art to words and back to art. But this time it’s in a different way, weaving the two together.

Our winding roads to wisdom are all about this sort of discovery and expansion. In the upward spiral of soul growth, we sometimes come back to important things that we thought we had moved past. When they present themselves to us again, it’s a sign. There’s more there to discover…

In my recent post My journey begins: Quest for meaning, I write about an important moment on a small platform at Point Reyes, California, overlooking the Pacific. A series of paintings resulted from that trip, specifically from Yosemite National Park. I love trees, and they have been the subject matter of many paintings. The below piece shown (watercolor & pencil) is a depiction of a tree family – something I felt intuitively – which just 5 days ago I revisited in my Hart Haiku post Tree Secrets, Nature’s Wisdom.

SusanLHart_Family

And the beat goes on.

susanlhart

Painting Family © Susan L Hart & Return to Passion & Blogging © Susan L Hart