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In the beginning... there was this cave. It was not
particularly large - or deep - or comfortable; but it was home to a
very industrious man. This man was not strong like his neighbors. He
was not clever and cunning like the hunters of the area. He stayed to
himself - thinking mostly. Mostly about life. Where did he come from;
where was he going; what would come after him. The answers almost never
came. He wondered about the past and how things came to be. For
example, who was it that brought the first fire to the region. The fire.
The all important fire that kept the cold away from the cave. The fire
that protected him from vicious animals. The fire that gave light in
the dark of the night and the dark of the cave. His family was precious
to him and he decided that he wanted his children to remember what came
before them so he decided to draw pictures to tell of the adventures of
the neighbors. To document the happenings of his people. To save the
knowledge that had grown since he was a child. So he took a stick and
found some sticky tar from a pit nearby and scrawled images on the walls
in the flickering firelight. He did this for many years - and his child
grew to manhood. One cold evening when the family was bedding down for
the night, his son came to him with a worried look. He said, "Father, I
have watched you all my life scratch on the walls of the cave. Some of
the early drawings are beginning to fade. But I've always wondered why
you spend this time - so diligently drawing. What's the use? Who
cares? What is your reason for such work?" And the father said to him,
"Son, let me tell you that I have done this for all these years for you.
So that you will never forget where it is that you came. So that you
will never forget your place in life. So that you can share with your
children their purpose." And the son said, "Father, what is my
purpose?" The father said back,"Your purpose is to never let the firelight
die in your heart, Never forget the past so that you can direct your path to
the future. Your wisdom depends on this word: remember!"
Waking in the dark, dank tomb-like atmosphere of the cave, the
youth wondered where he was. The chill from the still air lay like a
blanket of fog over his body as he gazed around trying to get his
bearings. A low flicker caught his eye, and as he followed the slight
gleam, he "Remembered" with a start. He was here!!! IN the Cave of
the Ancients. The feeble oil lamp allowed him to glimpse the soaring
walls and arching roof. As he struggled to his feet, more "remembering"
returned. The giant Aurochs, the brave mastodon, the mighty warriors
who gained strength from these images painted on the walls. Grabbing
the nearest oil lamp, he moved along the wall revisiting all the colors,
strokes, hand prints which glowed like jewels. "I Remember", he
thought, "To be chosen as an artist is the highest calling of all." The
burden weighed heavily on his young shoulders, "Will all my practice
help me to guide the people in the hunt? Will I learn the wisdom that
has been called for in the one who has been chosen?" With a great
weary sigh, he stood upright and stared at the walls glowing in the oil
light, " I will remember,I will endure the gift and burden that has
been thrust upon me."
I muttered the words, remembering the words of the old one, when I heard
something above me in the cave. Peering up I saw another in the scaffolds
against the cave ceiling. He clung to the beams as a wooley animal. "True, my
child, art is both a gift and a burden," He sang down to me. "But remember
this! It also thrills our soul and this soul message speaks not only to our
inner self, but connects with the souls of others. Besides this, it's so much
fun! Who else among us is granted time away from joining the hunting and
waring parties? We can climb the walls on our beams of oak and apply the
colors to make all creatures come alive. We give birth to the creatures we
admire and keep them in our memory for all time." He reached into his paint
pot and rubbed some color into the wall, all the while smiling. He looked
down at me again and said, "A gift and a burden, yes, but it is also pure
joy. Don't forget the joy!"
And with that, I retreated into the back of the cave... what did he mean by
pure joy? It was hard to create these images on the walls. Why did we
have to be the ones to do it? Ok, let me look at it again... it is a gift
to be able to create and put down in tangible form, a record for others to
see. I don't know why he thought there would be so many people looking at
the works I created - there never seemed to be that many people around
where we lived - so who else would see this? And what difference would it
make to them that one person created pictures on the walls? A burden...
what did he say? "It is our job to record our time for the people that are
to come... you need to realize how important your job is as an artist.
You have been chosen to record our time for those who will come later." I
hate when it is put that way... I paint because I love to paint!! I draw
the animals because I love the animals!! Wait....maybe that is what is
meant!! Creativity is a gift - and it is a burden because other people
count on me to put things down visually that will show that we were here.
But for me, creation is a joy... how wonderful to be able to make visible,
the thoughts and images that rumble around in my head!! I looked back
over my shoulder and shouted , " I understand...... Thank you!!"