Saturday, January 31, 2015


Dearest Readers,

I’ve come to the conclusion this week that knowing who I am is impossible, and exhausting. I’ve hit the wall of logic, and finally realize that the question is just too big and profound, like what is Love? Time? Infinity? Maybe not knowing who I am is just the way it really is. I’m paraphrasing the Zen teacher John Tarrant who described this possibility in the recent issue of Shambhala Sun magazine1.

What a relief! I’ve been asking the question since college days when I learned about Descartes and his dictum “Cogito ergo sum”…”I think, therefore I am”.  For me, real life has always been about “Sensio ergo sum.” “I feel therefore I am.”
Heart in Hand-glove, polymer clay, acrylic, glitter, fiberfill, 2009
Art, poetry and performance have been my tools for self-understanding because they plumb non-logical insight and feelings. I’ve explored Who I Am with answers like, “I’m a mother, I’m a daughter, I’m Cecelia, I’m a face that people recognize as me, I’m an aging woman, I’m a body and heart and mind full of thoughts and feelings. I’m a coffee addict. I’m a terrorist. I’m a citizen. I’m basically good.
COFFEE JESUS-3 yrs. of daily coffee cups and coffee blend labels, Christmas lights, snapshots, and index cards-8'x72' 1998-2001

But even the artistic method seems like I’m trying too hard. So I’m taking a break. Taking a breath and consciously letting go and just being in nature up here in Vermont with trees that seem so full of wisdom and quiet endurance. No goal. Just being like a maple tree. Painting them, walking around them, and playing with sticks.
BECOMING A TREE #4- 8.5" x 11" , oil on canvas, 2015

The other day I found a photo of myself from 1968 wearing a “selfie” dress with my college yearbook headshot all over it. Back then I paid a printer to silkscreen my face on a few yards of white linen, then I fashioned it into a dress for an art project my senior year at the University of Vermont.  This was way before the days of T-shirt screen printing operations. I wish I had a dress like this now that pokes some fun at this self-conscious me.
CRAZY ME - Silkscreen prints on linen, 1968
I’ll close with the Tao Te Ching, written 2,500 years ago in China by Lao Tsu. It talks about “The Way” (things are) in insightful, sometimes funny, often mind-bending prose and verse. I’ve quoted the first chapter before. It describes the conundrum of reality. Here it is again from the 1997 translation by Ursula Le Guinn:

The way you can go
isn’t the real way.
The name you can say
isn’t the real name.

Heaven and earth
begin in the unnamed:
name’s the mother
of the ten thousand things.

So the unwanting soul
Sees what’s hidden,
And the ever-wanting soul
Sees only what it wants.

Two things, one origin,
but different in name,
whose identity is mystery.
Mystery of all mysteries!
The door to the hidden.

(Remember Cecelia: It’s a mystery, and relax!)

Day 81-Feeling Peaceful - 11"x14", pastel on bristol board, 2014

1. Shambhala Sun, March 2015 p.66


  1. Dig the dress, Cecelia....lookin' cool and cocky....great post...and surely are after something about identity and big after the bone kind of thing.... Oui? thanks! m

    1. Thanks, Madison. I like your metaphor "the bone kind of thing..." That's it exactly. Oui.

  2. Dear Cecelia, your mind is a beautiful beautiful thing! I love seeing you in this dress from 1968 and knowing that your work while evolving over the years still has the same roots. I love the acceptance of the mystery. The questions, the unknowing...perhaps that is who we truly are.

  3. Ruth, you are a wonderful friend. The acceptance of the mystery has been a long, lovely time coming.