Yesterday afternoon, I met for tea with Portland's former Poet Laureate, a fascinating character named Steve Luttrell who I had bumped into at the Maine Festival of the Book. He's the founder of The Cafe Review, and as we sat there and discussed the merging of writing and Buddhism, he brought up the topic of the ancient Zen poets of China who used to write their greatest lines of poetry, then scrunch the paper up and toss it into a river.
Could I write my best work, and then throw it into a river?
I think it's a good question to ask ourselves as writers or artists... because it makes us start to realize the intention behind the work. Am I doing this because I want to become famous and respected... or am I doing this in order to add truth and honesty and insight into the world? Am I willing to pour my heart into a project, and then release it to the wind? Am I willing to just give?
As if to close the week-long musing on this topic, this morning I watched a short interview with Frank Gehry as he spoke about his groovy new creation that lies nestled in the folks of The Peak in Hong Kong. When asked about his distinctive style that is so recognizable, he brought up the unknown artist behind the The Charioteer of Delphi. "Artist unknown... that's what we should aim towards," said Gehry. "That's the Mount Everest".
I found it interesting that one of the world's most distinctive and successful architects, could see the offering of one's art---without the need for reward or to have one's name associated with it--as the highest goal. It's given me an impetus to pull out my notebooks and write from the place that those Zen poets came from. To just allow the creation to occur, and then let it fly away with the wind.
Photo: Wiki Commons