Sun thru overhead palms

Pattern interruption: In art as in life

Sun thru overhead palms

We’ll remember this time of coronavirus better than most of our birthdays.

We weirdly and fondly recall physical challenges, though usually only long after we’ve overcome them.

How many times have you heard someone tell the story of a broken leg, an accident or even a minor mishap with a glint in their eyes. I know I tell those stories.

Our son does too. A physical lad, he likes to keep count of all the traumas visited upon his body.

Back of his head gashed open after being thrown on a bed in fun. Who knew he’d bounce so far?!

(That was his Mom, not me : -)

Two broken arms by the time he was five.

Smashed testicles, enough to concern the doctor about his potential to sire children — from an overexuberant leap onto a karate-kicking friend.

And about twenty-some-odd more events that hurt oh so much at the time but are now life stories to be shared.

Every time pop music becomes too treacly, something jarring comes along: rock, punk, grunge, rap.

Think of the art that stuck in your head. It took you somewhere unexpected. It started as one thing, then veered.

Hey Jude


The Tropic of Cancer

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

Great work establishes a pattern — then breaks it.

It’s the same with work habits. The great ones develop deep focused routines interrupted by explorations in other directions after exhaustion sets in.

Einstein played the violin, taking it with him in his travels.

Darwin, Jung, Freud, Mahler, O’Keeffe, Jobs, Hemingway and thousands more took long walks.

I suspect for Wilt Chamberlin it was sex.

Patterns work for us. From cosmic explosion to matter clumping together to stars and planets to night and day to the routines that sustain us, our existence is enabled by a richly interwoven set of patterns.

Pattern disruption can work for us too.

Without an asteroid to finish off the dinosaurs, almost certainly humankind would not have come into existence.

That’s pattern interruption on such a massive scale it set new life forms into motion. New patterns emerged on our planet as dominant patterns were disrupted.

Michel de Montaigne refined the essay — a new written-word form he invented — during a plague. As life was interrupted, he dove more deeply into what mattered to him most.

Miguel de Cervantes had the idea for Don Quixote — the first modern novel — while in debtors prison, a life interrupter if there ever was one.

More millionaires came out of the Great Depression than any previous time in America.

Coronavirus is the great pattern interrupter of our era.

How will you use it?


Note: Soul adventure

I was leaving for New York City in a few weeks from South Florida — on a motorcycle.

The woman I was casually dating at the time coaxed me into visiting a museum, the first time I’d ever gone to one not part of a tour arranged by school or parents.

A couple of contemporary artists were featured. Max Ernst was one of the artists, I believe.

I was gobsmacked by the imagery. I was tumbled and tilted by the work, sent in unaccustomed directions.

How did they think this way? I wondered.

It was as if these artists thought from within that space between reality and dream, that place before you fall into deep sleep.

How do they see the world this way?

How do they manage to express it?!

How do you free your mind to imagine what is not seen just beyond what is seen?

What I saw on those walls expanded me. Once in New York City I started visiting museums. Whole worlds existed within a canvas.

Experience itself felt laid bare, in painting after painting. Moments rich with nuance presented themselves to me, almost all within variations of a rectangle.

It was impossible to know that in twelve years time I’d co-found an art gallery with my future wife. Me, who was fresh from working in my Dad’s tire store when I stepped into the Norton Museum of Art.

My puny thinking apparatus couldn’t begin to muster a vision for what tingled in my body viewing these creations.

It was impossible to know I’d befriend artists and creators and thinkers and writers, that they’d become the portal through which I’d experience my life.

It’s been more than 35 years since a date beckoned me to meet her at a museum.

I may have thought it was but a prelude to something flirty and physical later on. Instead it was an invitation to live la vida creativa.

Walking out of the museum that day I couldn’t have told you the trajectory of my life had been changed. That took years more — it was more an accrual of charged moments rather than one pivotal instance.

Yet . . . thank fucking God I followed the pull!

It’s made all the difference. The gulf between keen and dull.

The difference between a butter knife and a samurai sword.

I can’t even bear dwelling upon how life might have turned out had I not followed the pull. If I’d stayed on the conventional trajectory.

Yes, I’d be richer. Monetarily. But the true riches of uncovering a deeper self would almost certainly have eluded me.

That sounds esoteric — vague — uncovering your deeper self. Yet from that pull toward something enigmatic, something enticing, came a thing of paramount value to me:

Meaningful relationships with seekers and creators.

Some people live for fun. Others live for financial success. I seem to live for dialogue: With myself, with others.

I delight in conversation with others as much as I relish self inquiry.

Follow the pull of sharpened experience, I would tell my young self now. Follow it unabashedly. You may never quite figure out why certain situations and certain people tingle you.

It doesn’t matter. I don’t know why I like mango so much, but my life is enriched by uncovering more mangoes, wherever I can find them, in whatever form they’ve been processed.

Follow the pull of charged experience, that’s where adventure lies.

By adventure, I mean a life quest exploring the outermost reaches of your soul.

An eternal adventure of the spirit.

And the coolest discovery strikes you at some distantly later stage — You have no outermost reaches of your soul.

There’s more! There’s always more!

. . . . .

Let your intrigue guide you

Evan Griffith

For insights and stories on the connected creative life, check out these bookitos:

The Creative Morning Challenge

Burn Baby Burn: Spark The Creative Spirit Within