Elisabeth

dandelionseed, by nextbigfuture.com

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Water and sand: Elisabeth Tomalin, 4 November 1912 – 8 March 2012:  her pioneering therapies.

http://www.thecnj.com/review/2009/102909/feature102909_01.html

What are you up to now, Elisabeth?  Do you enjoy my sand castles?  Oh yes, we heard you in the kitchen, that day in July, as tough and dainty as a tiny turning leaf, and clapping with one hand –  the Olympics, and Tom Heatherwick’s torch of Time.

I meant to sketch you, ever since you died.  Now we are in Scorpio, with Saturn and Mercury across the threshold;  a very good time to find and be with you.  I feel your creative presence, your voice now hale, whole and free from the dragging pain of age and failing skin and nerve-ends:  you give me elemental colours – clear peat-brown water, wet rocks and emerald bogmoss –  for the Yin winter, the seed descending deep under the frost.

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I sat straight down, got out the photo, and drew Elisabeth first from upside down …

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then with my left hand …

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… then with the right …

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… and then as a portrait.   This took a while.

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I felt her strongly.  At moments, it was my Self portrait looking out, and back at me.  She would have loved me to draw her when she was alive.  When she was dying in the care home, I was not kind, I didn’t visit her regularly.  I resented the long bus route and felt dead tired.  Her physical and emotional agony, bedridden and “useless” at nearly 100 years old, was heavy going.  Her busy mind craved words, oracles and philosophy;  she was deaf.  She longed interminably to die, and it kept her waiting.   Companionship could be silence, which she did not want.

I am tired of my “good-likeness” portraits.  How to draw an honest line?  Doing it upside down, or with my left, I have no choice but to really look, and not assume that I know better.

Then, like playing something on the piano, remember to loosen and let my arm as a whole move the charcoal, from the spine;  not just the habitual hand.  My hand with the whole arm movement, is sensitive, more humble.   Be conscious how the human is:  stop,  wait, follow.  Be delicate; watchful;  bold.  Keep looking.   Hear her.

There comes a magical power of connection – the living human contour of my friend.  I see and feel her lifetimes, the young Princess Soaja, the sharp and ageless pilgrim, her bandy legs, Scorpio birth,  a Jewish woman of history, the art therapist giving me, right now, an intense sand-and-water session on my dreams.

I see her in her white wicker basket with her sharp nose in the air and all the lines in her face erased:  the utter stillness and relief.  She got there at last.

Then summer came.  Look at her managing the Olympic Games with glee through her “phenomenally gifted” grandson.  Remove all frames of time – ignite the essence!

When Thomas visited his grandmother he sometimes brought his latest architectural plans to show her.   She made suggestions.  She lay in her sore bed the weary hours, visualising and pondering the buildings and designs.   Granny Soaja needed to control things, and she was very difficult.   Yet she submitted to some of her frustrations with a gentle dignity.

Who knows what dandelion seeds caught hold?  Tom’s Olympic cauldron is a child of his Shanghai Seed Cathedral.  In the nation-wide convergence and goodwill of the beacon  bearers, real people came forward with the flame, the seed of light;  the cult of celebrity began to die.

Elisabeth is active beyond her body.  Her irrepressible child dances through the astral plane “across our time”.  She had a passion for the creative lineage through her family, and its survival.  The tugging worry of all that, is now away under the bridge.  She loves her people, her strong daughter Stefany, and her family, and to tell them what to do.

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Honesty to the life line is a soft and crumbling charcoal tip … slowly along acceptance.   To watch the breath as the Buddhists say, is like drawing someone.   Watch it in that way;  like plain water beginning to taste nice.

To so-called watch the breath as a meditation felt meaningless.  I didn’t know how.  The attention jumped off, like a needle from a dusty record.  But the drawing lesson with Elisabeth showed the way for me.  It comes alive, and is not by the book.

Coda

This my poem
a seeding dandelion clock 
is a globe upon a stalk 

and every where 
I blow, the once 
upon a time it tells.

photo by daviddarling.info

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My adventure invites fellow travellers.  I am a poet, an artist and a seer.  I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.

This blog is  a vehicle to promote my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books) – along with many other creations in house.  

I write, illustrate, design and print my books.   Watch this space.

2 thoughts on “Elisabeth

  1. The second and third drawing reaches me more, as drawings in themselves and as portraits, though I didn’t know her very well. I remember her more vividly sitting next to me on the sofa, her sharp profile defiantly and regally pointing out to the world or down towards her lap, unable to hear properly what was being said. On one particular occasion she made a soft speech – something about the waiting silence of death like in some kind of cave. It seemed to go deeper than what she normally spoke about and it was a particular declaration of some kind. I can’t remember exactly what she said that impressed me – I’ve only been left with an impression of amazement at what came out of this tiny old woman and her honesty about something that felt profoundly deep, painful and beautiful, even as she lacked confidence in personality, her emotions a little bit array and her body deteriorating. Although I felt like a child beside her – very much a junior (I was in my 50’s then) – if I listened hard enough, I could hear beyond her age – the powerful vitality of her psyche, not the tiny wrinkled woman before me. I could see that sometimes she felt lost, even amongst companions.

  2. Thank you Sheila. It is good to read and picture your vivid impression of her, and what it was like when she spoke from somewhere deeper than usual – as from that cave itself. The paradoxical pain and beauty. I’m very touched and reminded by what you say. She was extraordinary. She still is. I had no plan to draw or think about her yesterday: she just popped through. And as you suggest, she couldn’t hear well, but also she found it hard for people to listen to her. She loved Fritjof Capra’s writing of cosmic connectivity.

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