Monday, August 13, 2012


Dearest Readers,
Cecelia-1st day after one hour of digging the hole

DAY 1:
I’ve been planning this journey down to the center of the self for over a year, and have at last pierced the earth. Won’t be easy. This creation of a marble lined, well-ish cylinder of emptiness and a ladder to climb in and out of it was accepted into SculpFest 2012 at the Carving Studio and Sculpture Center in West Rutland VT. Nine artists and I will be creating outdoor installations on the grounds of four abandoned Vermont marble a sculpture school. Here’s my original sketch.
Hole proposal sketch
Hole composition: loam-gray clay-iron oxide-marble rocks-coal bits-rusty metal parts

I managed to dig for one hour today, and excavated about 6” of loam, gray clay, marble rocks, bits of coal and rusted machine parts from a long time ago. It nearly killed me. Temperature was 80˚ with partly sunny skies and almost no humidity. The universe smiled on me this first day.
Jonathan starts the hole
When I arrived I was surprised to find that  Jonathan La Farge, the Studio Manager had already begun digging the hole. I wanted to extract the first shovelful, but I’m very grateful for the head start. He’s young and strong.
Cecelia's first shovelful
 So far my body is doing well, but I’m getting stiffer as I sit here at the computer. During the dig I got winded a lot, and my chest felt tight. I slowed down and sat on the edge often. I’ve been building up my body for a few months with modified push-ups, gentle sit-ups and deep knee bends. Right now I feel my lower back tensing, a fullness in my right side, and my stomach muscles contracting. Not bad. Art and exercise. What a combination!
Funny thing. I did not think much during the digging. I was concentrating on staying alive. I don’t really see this as a personal passage anymore. I had envisioned myself as a reincarnated “hero” à la myth scholar Joseph Campbell, testing my muscular mettle while delving through rocks and roots and stubborn dirt to experience some sort of death-defying transformation while thinking, always thinking about the nature of death by digging underground. But then it dawned on me, like the Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chogyam Trungpa says in the closing quote, the journey and the goal are already here. Honestly, I already know something about death, hope and fear.
So cheerfully I proceed on this downward path of not-knowing what to expect in digging a well or building a ladder. So far it’s tiring but thrilling to do it. I hope the result will be a beautiful cylinder of space with a way to go down and come up again. Stay with me as I make the daily descent. The short time frame allotted will determine how deep and wide I go. Must be finished by the opening reception on September 8th.
“Salvation, if we can talk about it at all, is the end of ambition, which is when you become completely one with your experience. Knowledge becomes one with wisdom, which is called buddhahood or the awakened state of mind. You realize that you never needed to make the journey at all, because the journey and the goal are there already. It’s not so much that you are achieving liberation, but it is more that you realize that liberation is right there and that you needn’t have sought for it.”-- Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Transcending Madness: The Experience of the Six Bardos

1 comment:

  1. I'm so excited that you'll be able to dig this piece and line it with marble. The drawing is gorgeous. Happy belated birthday to you!