Monday, January 26, 2009

heaven in six minutes to ten years

what we tend to forget is how narrow the window of opportunity has been for many great accomplishments. for example, a pilot lands a plane on ice in the hudson river. in half an hour he's made a career as a hero. and many a medal of honor winner entered the rolls with a five minute run through enemy lines. 

i mention this cause we often despair. our whole lives have passed and what has it come to? well, it's come to the next five minutes. van gogh created all his paintings in ten years, and the best in the last six. walking through the kroller-muller museum in holland, i passed a case of awful paintings. what were they doing here amidst the masterpieces by van gogh and monet and dozens of others? i had to peer closely to discover they were the first paintings by, yes, van gogh. he started out pretty grimly, let me tell you. who would have thought...?

actually, my favorite story of an artist is the japanese print-maker Sharaku. he created the most realistic kabuki actor portraits of his time (and maybe any other). they didn't find favor, and as far as we know, his career lasted six months, all we have of him surviving from this tiny period. 

how many more can you name? the ode to a nightingale  written in an hour under the tree outside keat's home on hamstead heath. of course, whistler said it took him twenty years to learn to paint a great scene in twenty minutes (and charge a lot of money for it). but how many things don't require a long preparation. mostly, it's a matter of rising to the occasion. 

if you've got a day, a month, a year left, it's time enough. 

here are some new photos. a couple of rambles in chico.