Moon Snail Project # 61 – 66: Emptiness

April 23, 2013

“Emptiness which is conceptually liable to be mistaken for sheer nothingness is in fact the reservoir of infinite possibilities.”
— Daisetsu T. Suzuki

Moon Snail Shells # 61 - 64, ink and watercolor sketches

Moon Snail Shells # 61 – 64, ink and watercolor sketches

“Become totally empty.
Quiet the restlessness of the mind.
Only then will you witness everything unfolding from emptiness.”
— Lao Tzu

My empty moon snail shell calls to me.  I have been thinking lately that I need to carve more emptiness into my days.  Even my days off work feel too full. I am tired of not having enough hours in the day for everything I want to do.

I work only part time (30 hours/week) and my daughter is an adult living on her own.  So I should feel that I have enough balance between working for others and working/playing for myself.  When I think back, I didn’t feel so busy in my 30s and 40s when I was working and parenting full time.  What am I doing differently?

The culprits are books, blogging, and DVD movies.  One of the perils of working in a library is that I’m tempted by far too many reading and entertainment choices.  Over the years, I’ve succumbed to reserving and checking out more and more items.  It’s insidious.  There is always a new blockbuster, new releases that garner enticing reviews, clever titles, and inviting book covers.  A few decades ago I didn’t feel that I had to see every “good” movie or read every “good” book.  These days, access is too easy.  It’s a flood, and I’m drowning.

“The flood of print has turned reading into a process of gulping rather than savoring.”
— Raymond Chandler

This is not how I want to live the rest of my days, so it’s time for me to make some changes.  I need to set new parameters around my library borrowing.  And I will have to re-think how I use my blog.  By cutting back in these areas, I hope to give myself some space in my days, enjoy a slower and more relaxed pace, and live a more thoughtful and artful life.  I want to create some empty spaces so that some new possibilities can alight.  I want breathing room for my spirit.

“Whatever art offered the men and women of previous eras what it offers our own is space — a certain breathing room for the spirit.”
— John Updike

Within emptiness is the promise of satisfying fullness, not frantic, but thoughtful.

Moon Snail Shell # 65, watercolor painting

Moon Snail Shell # 65, watercolor painting

Moon Snail Shell # 66, pencil and watercolor sketch

Moon Snail Shell # 66, pencil and watercolor sketch

15 Responses to “Moon Snail Project # 61 – 66: Emptiness”

  1. Adrienne Says:

    I relate to today’s sharing. I have easy access to our wonderful library. I check out too many books of interest, read first few chapters, am distracted by life’s many offerings and responsibilities. When I finally return to the books, I’ve I forgotten much of what I read. Rather than start over, I return the books and find 3 or 4 new ones. Books deserve better. Thanks for this entry. Time to revaluate my habit.

    • Rosemary Says:

      I understand your situation perfectly. I’d love to hear if you change after reevaluating your library habits. I might get some ideas for myself.

  2. Chris Says:

    I think because you have such an appetite for learning, doing, drawing, etc. which to me represents a high intelligence may be one of the reasons you cannot resist all those books and all the other things you do, as well.
    If you feel content at the end of the day…go for it…that’s just who you are but if not, then yes, you’ll have to find your Zen place! You know the saying…Too many books, not enough time!!
    But yes, it is wonderful to have some time to day dream…every day…but then you would probably be day dreaming about all the books you want to read!! 🙂
    That last empty shell sketch is beautiful…btw!!

    • Rosemary Says:

      My challenge is to spend more time living life and less time reading about someone else’s life or watching a movie about someone else’s life. Of course you are right, if I am out living and having an experience, then I need time to reflect on it, too. So time continues to be an issue.

  3. Karin Says:

    My favourites #61-64 !

    • Rosemary Says:

      I find it interesting to hear which paintings appeal most to my readers, so thank you for taking the time to comment.


  4. You are not alone in thinking we are getting busier! I loved this post about emptiness and feel you and I are in the same creative and temporal stage of our lives. I enjoy your posts.

    • Rosemary Says:

      Yes, busy-ness seems to have reached crisis proportions in our culture. I think setting priorities is important. But the challenge is to find the time to think this through and then figure out a way to act on your choices.

  5. Margaret Says:

    #65 is my favorite.

  6. alice shoemaker Says:

    Hi, can I reach you  this way — I just wrote you a note and it disappeared — so will try again and keep it short!   I like your recent  blogs and I can see the changes that your pictures of the snail show — one thing – much more confidence and energy as your drawings and w.c. develops. Wanted to tell you about my one thing only project that happened out of the blue in late January. Received a bunch of flowers – including a big stem of stargazer lilies.

  7. alice shoemaker Says:

    Hi, Lost again!  Last half of he message disappeared.  Sorry,  Alice

  8. alice shoemaker Says:

    Hi, Rosemary — I hope this is just an email and not a public comment — I’ll give it a try. I think your snail project shows so much more of your real art abilities — since watercolors are my particular interest I have followed your snail trail! FYI  I have focused one subect alone and paint almost every day.  An acquaintence sent me some flowers.  At last!  a cheerful subject to draw and paint during the dark winter!  I started out with day 1 –pods.   Day 2 — pods showing more pink, Day 3 –beginning to open.  You get the idea — I find  this flower a challenge — so about 9 days later it is back to the

    • Rosemary Says:

      Thanks for your determined efforts to comment. The comments to my blog are public. I love that you are inspired to paint flowers and are following this project.

  9. shoreacres Says:

    My experience is precisely the same as yours. I haven’t the time to do the things I want to do. Or so I say. Tossing out the television helped. The death of my mother didn’t help one bit, in any way, but once I no longer was caring for her, great chunks of time became available.

    And I still have dishes in the sink and nothing but the title for the story I want to write.

    I do think there’s a positive to the situation, though. I’m much more curious and much more intellectually involved with ideas than I’ve been for decades. I spend hours at the computer at night, following “curiosities” – and I love the learning. Is that time wasted? I don’t think so.

    • Rosemary Says:

      Curiosity has to be one of the greatest virtues. Don’t you find at the older you get, the more your discoveries coalesce to shape a point of view or tell a story? You have a wonderful way of writing that pulls these threads together. So I would agree that your time following interesting tidbits is well worth it.


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