All of nature communicates with other parts of nature. In his poem, “The Social Life of Water,” Tony Hoagland writes, “Cloud talks to lake;/ mist speaks quietly to creek.” That makes conversation elemental.
I talk to myself in a less restrained manner than when I was younger, less encumbered by doubt and hesitation. Will I become one of those old women who unabashedly converses with herself out loud in public? It’s already happening in nature—I speak freely when I’m out in the woods and, yes, aloud, at times.
Some squirrels are willing to engage with me. One summer there was a squirrel in a section of Jacks Peak Park who often chatted with me when I arrived at that place. We’d carry on conversations lasting several minutes that only ended when I got too faraway to hear the squirrel’s next comment. And birds will occasionally engage in a prolonged dialogue. Once Michael noticed that a bird and I were chatting, was startled by it and said, “You two are talking to each other!”
There are several human languages I know only a few words of, but that doesn’t tend to stop me from speaking the words I know along with those I don’t yet comprehend. Isn’t that what we do when making art, when engaging with imagination? We enter into conversations with ourselves and the world around us, without having a complete understanding, but with curiosity and the mind of inquiry at the helm. We ask and listen for answers, imagining our way into comprehension! Art-making begins with a question not an answer.
What will you ask today?