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February 23 - Looking at Cycles as Relations of Opposites

One way to look at cycles is as a relation of opposites, an ebb and flow that are necessarily in relationship. I remember attending a presentation on activity and rest. The speaker began by talking about our breath. He had us take a deep breath and then release the breath. We repeated this a few times. He then went on to describe how after an inhale, we naturally have to exhale. We can’t breathe in better or more; the cycle requires that we breathe out to breathe in again. Rest and activity work together in a similar way.

As I think of these opposites that exist in relationship through cycles, I think of attention as well. After periods of focused work writing or creating, my mind and senses crave the softer attention of a walk around the neighborhood or time to simply be in nature.

During the last year we have had plenty of need for the kind of attention that feels like an alert: announcements about national events, as well as details of new restrictions and practices to protect our health and communities.

At the same time, a softer wandering sort of attention is available as we have extended time focused closer to home.

My paper cuts below are illustrations of two different kinds of attention.

Today, I invite you to reflect on changes in your life in the past year. What cycles were interrupted by the pandemic? What new ones that have emerged? I miss the rhythm of quiet working followed by art shows where I get to see friends and share my work in a public celebration. I am exploring new rhythms around online gatherings and sharing work on-line.

Practice - Drawing from the Inside Out

Drawing can be a great tool for exploring attention. We often imagine beginning a drawing with the outline and then filling in the details. For this exercise, try beginning in the center and work your way out.

Select a natural object such as a leaf, flower, pine cone, shell, fruit or vegetable. Begin with a detail in the center and work your way out. The goal is to explore and notice details and textures as you observe closely. It is my hope that this practice will offer a quality of gentle attention.

This can be done as a doodle on a scrap of paper, it should feel playful not pressured.

Inspiration from Nature - Ice Art

The photos below are designs in the ice at Huntley Meadows Park. Each time I visit they have been created anew by cycles of freezing and thawing.

I’d love to hear if you notice other creations resulting from cycles of opposites in nature.

Thank you for being a part of this newsletter community.

Thank you to everyone who has been sharing images and creations.

Please feel free to share anything you are noticing or creating.

Respond to this email or share on Instagram with hashtag #papercolorearth

Thanks, Kathryn

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