art, beauty, creative inspiration, Life in General

Overflowing.

There are times in your life when beauty shines undeniably around you, and there are times when you find it in something as simple as moss between stones. And then there are the times it flows up, spilling out of your very self, as though you become one with the magnificence of the world and humanity all around you. For me, that happens most often in Venice. I cannot tell you how many times a spongy joy has saturated my heart, rising up until tears have filled my eyes in the last three weeks. Everyday I have been inspired to work with a fervor that seldom comes this many sunrises in a row. And I have three more weeks to go.

The bounty of creativity and art here are impossible to deny, and why would you want to? I gaze at art in a museum or a church and feel ecstasy. I stand on the edge of the fondemente and from the soles of my feet, the silver blue of the Adriatic ebbs into me. I take a spill in a square, and the kind people rush to help me. I do not know the Italian word for ice skating, so I cannot explain to them that after years of training 8 hours a day, falling is a familiar feeling for me, but I smile and wipe my hands and tell them how kind they are,and how grateful I am for their concern, but it is nothing. I am laughing, “Niente, niente.” My tripping has given me their kindness as a gift.

Joy pervades everything here for me. A simple stroll through the ancient streets, the singing greetings of ‘Buon Giorno!’ from the shop keepers we’ve come to know, or even strangers, ring like the bells of the Cathedrals that are all around us. Time after time the simple awareness of where I am now mists the world around me as my chest is saturated with  love of the moment. A Madonna painted by Giacomo Bellini is so drenched in color and beauty I cannot speak for the brilliance of how much it moves me.

And here is what I have to say about that. When beauty brings you to tears—weep, sob, let the tears flow with all the love and connection of which we are capable, and that is infinite. It is not only here that I feel this, it is more a state of mind, it’s just that here, in this ancient place still so full of life and passion, those exposures are closer to the surface, more available, and more constant.

We choose what to see and do in life. Often, we choose what to feel about it. With every word you put out, every smile or scowl you give to another, you plant a seed.

Will you grow a flower? A vine? A magnificent oak? Or something dark and poisonous.

There is beauty in darkness too, I do not deny that. But it’s up to you to nurture your own soul, to know that the stars are still there even on the cloudiest midnight. It’s all there for you, embrace it, let it go, weep for the perfect bliss that is in it.

Take it in, and give it back.

Shari, February 3, 2016. Venice Italy.

 

 

 

 

Life in General

Laughter in Hallowed Places.

Image
Walking through the sea in St. Marks Square.

 

A special month is engraved now in my heart and mind. Every month is special, of course, but the blessings of time in this city have once again charmed and enthralled me.

I leave with so many wonderful memories of time with my daughter and husband, too many to try to share or write down, I wish I could, but those are mine, and you shall make your own.

Venice itself is a priceless museum, a moment in time, evolving and frozen, the people here have exuded their class and enthusiasm like some invisible atmosphere, their love of life and sense of wonder are contagious, and Joseph and I are, as always, infected, saturated with the germs of life and laughter.

I have fabulous pictures, of course, but one thing I will always remember, and the suggestion of which will produce waves of sense memory, are the smells. Yes, sometimes Venice smells of the sea, of tides, of moisture, of mossy damp, but as you walk, ah, as you walk.

We exit our apartment and the warmth of radiated heat interspersed in the moist air of the marble stairwell greets us. We open the huge wooden doors onto the street and the canal and the bakeries with their yeasty love assault us. The wind brings us hints of the sea and the marsh, inviting, secret scents. We cross a stone bridge, listening to the chatter of joy and the calls of greeting and pass a tiny shop in a narrow brick alleyway, where everyday, all day, they bake fresh pizza rustico. This is not the delicious thin version so often served here, but thick, bread-like slabs smeared in sauce and cheeses and every delicious accompaniment you can imagine.

As we pass it we move on to the square, hitting the open avenue where each evening the locals ‘promenade.’ Many a twilight found us seated at a café table with an aperitif in hand, a bowl of salty, crisp and thin, homemade potato chips at our fingertips, watching the ebbing tapestry of life. Children on scooters and rollerblades, friends calling out enthusiastic “Ciao!”s and every version of intense conversation moving or still in the constant flow of people, conversations that take more than just words to participate in, they take punctuation of hands, rolls of eyes, symphonies of syllables and intonation.

And nearby, they serve hot chocolate, not hot chocolate like we do, thin as water, but thick, melted chocolate with fresh cream, dense as snow, laid over the top with a spoon. This is a treat so rich it must be served not on a plate, but in a mug.

And on it goes. The smell of rich sauces cooking on every other corner as the locals prepare their dinners of the richest ingredients bought daily from stalls on the street. Ripe tomatoes, basil grown in pots, never dried, sweet peppers, onions pulled from the earth yesterday, meats from a tiny butcher, who sells only what is best, from cows contentedly grazing only days before.  Preservatives are scoffed at, as is pasteurization or freezing, and the result is not only taste, but health. It was hard, when we visited the cemetery, to find a grave of someone less than 80. I think that should tell us something.

As for the treasures of Venice, the art, the architecture, the city itself, these things are remarkable, irreplaceable, and indelibly printed in our hearts.

But it’s the simple things that I remember the most. So I will leave this city with this story.

We were visiting the Scuola de Rocco. One of the most famous and magnificent buildings here, the entire interior is decorated by gigantic painting by Tintoretto, carved wood walls and seating for the great members of that great Union that are works of art in themselves. On the top floor is a room filled with their religious relicts, goblets, crosses, grails, each of them wrought of gold and silver and priceless jewels. Many of them are so ornate that they required years of an artisans’ life to complete. A guard sits sentry at all times. One of these objects could feed a village for a year, and that doesn’t take into account the artistry and skill of their beauty. 

We were not alone as we walked through this room. A young father was holding his daughter, she was probably between 2 and 3. As they went from stunning treasure to priceless work of art, I heard her childish voice ask, “What’s that Daddy?”

The father was English, and with typical patience and grace, he answered, “That’s the fire extinguisher, darling.”

And the sound of my laughter in the hallowed, hushed room rang out so that the long dead craftsmen must have stirred in their heaven and smiled down at us.

Sometimes, it’s the treasures, and sometimes, it’s the thing you wouldn’t usually notice that you carry with you.

I take home the scents and the weather and the laughter of Venice. If you ask me why I chose to turn down that narrow passageway, with no idea where it would lead me, I will answer you, “Because the wind invited me.”

 

Ciao, Venezia, a la prossima volta.

 

Shari March 18th, 2013.