A painting of Mark Rothko can be savored on one level as a canvas with swatches of color – red-orange, orange, brown, white, pink – but there is more to be savored than its colors. To appreciate deeply a painting as Rothko felt and created it, you must see past the colors of the painting. You must look beyond the colors applied to the canvas into the moods that those colors portray. When the creator of the painting put paint in those spaces, he charged it with heightened emotion, emotion captured frozen on the surface of the painting, frozen yet somehow alive. You don't look at a Rothko, you feel it through your eyes. You receive its cosmic broadcast as it echoes into the universe.
See the colors. Feel the colors. Peel the colors away.
Had Tennessee not been so pointy I would not have broken its tip: I am familiar with northeastern Tennessee. My memory of Chattanooga is a single sparkling image. I had never looked down into a city like that before and the early morning vista tattooed me. Stopped in Memphis long enough to buy a souvenir pen from Graceland, but I have never been to Nashville or Knoxville. And having lived in San Diego in vertical California, I assumed there was a southern Tennessee. There is no southern Tennessee. How silly of me.
The light switch in the kitchen of the imagination is reversed: OFF is up and ON is down. Before beginning a gumbo in an imaginary kitchen, you must turn the overhead lights off. Only when the kitchen is nice and dark brown can you visualize your ingredients. There on the counterspace is an imaginary onion next to an imaginary knife. And in the sink in an imaginary bowl is a pound of imaginary shrimp. Opening the door of the icebox turns a tiny light bulb off, darkening a stick of oleo, allowing you to find it. Closing the door of the icebox turns the tiny light bulb on, as far as anyone can tell.
IF I COULD FLY I would fly at a medium-fast speed. When flying motors were being handed out I would ask for a medium-fast motor. Who wants to spend all their precious flying time hectically zooming around?
You can never hold them for very long: a plucked buttercup's petals pucker and turn to jelly in minutes. You want to hold them, you want to keep the feeling of them close to you forever, but you cannot. The finest vase cannot sustain them. They will barely survive the short trip home in a basket in fact. The sharpest photograph can never record the buoyant freshness of a sprinkling of buttercups bathing in the daylight of a meadow, the elusiveness of their shadowboxes, the lightness of their muscatel. All you can do is sit among them and savor them while they are with us. All you can do is point the camera of your soul toward them and inhale the beauty they exhale. So I sit among them each spring, knowing that July will come and I will no longer be able to hold them. When they disappear, I am not sad to see them go for I know I have made the most of their season. I know that as early as next February, the buttercups will reappear. They have never not reappeared. And when my season on Earth has ended, color me a withered buttercup. Lay me in the ground and I too will be restored.