Snaking Our Way through Life: Laying Our Journey One Stone at a Time
by Cathleen Elise Rossiter
The work of Andy Goldsworthy has fascinated me since I was first introduced to his work through my local PBS station and his documentary, Rivers and Tides. Lately, his works have been on my mind as my life takes unexpected turns, leaving many unanswered questions in its wake.
I am reminded of late of Mr. Goldsworthy’s sculpture The Walking Wall snaking its way through and around the grounds of the Storm King Sculpture Park. Oftentimes the wall’s path seems illogical and a waste of effort. Myriad questions pepper my thoughts about the make-up and the journey of the wall, yet the one that persists is, “Why does the wall go around the trees, seemingly deliberately, when it could have avoided them all together?”
Until this morning, I never had an answer. Perhaps the answer never came because I was not ready to hear it. Perhaps I did not have sufficient life experience and wisdom required to see or the heart to understand. Perhaps, my current situation unearthed the necessary materials for the key. Whatever the reason for my blindness and deafness, and I suspect all of the above are a great part of the reason, this morning my ears and eyes were opened.
Our lives, as much as we love to plan them out and lay straight paths for them, are rarely if ever straight. Life is unpredictable. It pulls us away from our plans in the form of family or friends in need, unexpected opportunities or obligations, and obstacles of varying shapes and sizes creating detours and courses that seem illogical to anyone other than ourselves.
These detours create a beautiful ebb and flow when we have a chance to stand back and view the structure of our lives from afar. The apparent randomness and accompanying senselessness that we feel as we live through the detours reveals itself as a fluid dance, a beautiful ballet that expresses the patterns, struggles, and emotions of our journeys over the ground we travel. We see that we are stronger than we imagined, made of sterner stuff, and have reason to be proud of where we are in our journey because, whether we realize it or not, we have done the best that we can under the circumstances in which we found ourselves with the materials available to us at the time. Hindsight will inevitably provide us with better ways to have dealt with each situation. Yet, hindsight, by definition, is not afforded us in the heat of the moment. It is only by stepping back to take in the wider view that we see our accomplishments, in all their lovely imperfections, and dance a dance of joy at the mark we have left on the world.
For your further enjoyment and enlightenment:
Here are two short videos of The Walking Wall at the Storm King Art Center Sculpture Park that are worth watching as well as an amazing hour-long video of Mr. Goldsworthy speaking at the St. Louis Art Museum (all videos obtained via YouTube).