Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Art of Daydreaming: P-Town Edition

Peter Busa, Dune Shack, 1936, oil on paper, approx. 22 x 28 inches
One of the core truisms of spiritual advice is that one should always be present in the moment, attending to what is front of you; when you are washing dishes, wash them with full consciousness, observing how the plate is crafted, noting the way you are cleaning, wiping, drying. Sounds boring to me! I think this in-the-moment thing became a truism because the practice at least keeps your mind from wandering down rabbit holes of neuroticism, or to mix animal metaphors, to unwittingly fall victim to what Buddhists call monkey mind.

Fair enough, but what about the power and beauty and pleasure of imagining things? Using your imagination doesn't mean you're not in the moment, it means that in this moment that is how you are using your mind. A novel could never get written or a cosmological problem get solved if a person kept their mind from wandering while they are tying their shoes or mowing the lawn.

Imagining does not have to be this exalted, however. In good old fashioned daydreaming we slip into reveries of minor consequence. For example, earlier today I let my mind wander to what it will be like when we go to Provincetown this summer. I felt the heat and saw how at low tide in the harbor the boats come to rest on sand, and I felt pleasant anticipation. And I thought about the art we would see. So, as a tribute to the splendor of daydreams and as a tip of the hat to P-town itself, I'm posting this dunes painting by one of P-town's most beloved painters, Peter Busa. This piece, which actually is atypical for Busa, since he mostly did abstracts, is from the permanent collection of the Provincetown Art Association and Museum. Perhaps I should add that painting is an excellent way to be in the moment, paying attention to what is in front of you.

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