The world flows in and out of consciousness like tide pools
My intensity is uncovered
My feelings bare and open
I am fragile and raw
The sensations grow
Waves of emotion, intense and sharp
I am ready to explode
The dream, the world washes over me
Covering me like velvet
Soft and warm until the next low tide.By Cheryl McDonald, 2002©
If you would like to hear me read this poem, please click below.
This is a rare case of a poem appearing before the painting.
I was sitting on a rock above a tide pool on the shore of the Pacific Ocean, it might have been in central California, but it really doesn’t matter which beach. I was looking down into the tide pool at a point of low tide, so all the creatures were exposed, uncovered by water. I sat and marveled at their versatility. These soft and mostly invertebrate creatures who lived on the ocean floor who could also live, at least for a time, out of the water. I tried to put myself in their position. What must it feel like to live half of your life in almost a completely opposite environment? What would the physical sensations be that I would experience during the exposure? And what would the release feel like once I was back where I belonged under the velvet blanket of the sea?
As the poem came to me I put it in a sketch book I was using that day and kept it, thinking one day it would become a painting, which it did, Tide Pools is a graphite and colored pencil painting.
As I thought about this poem over the years, it occurred to me that I was living two different lives without even realizing it. My family life was and is important to me. I had been brought up during the time of “Leave it to Beaver” and “Ozzie and Harriet” two sitcoms that portrayed what commercial television wanted us to believe was the perfect family life. As a very young wife and mother, I did my best to be in that world. At the same time I was discovering that I was an artist, which was wild and chaotic and interesting. Exploring imagery and imagination and freedom to be and think and feel without fear of not being ‘normal’. It became harder to find my way in a linear world that made little sense to me.
The more I delved into psychology, art history, and mythology, the more interesting my art became and the more fragmented I became, trying to live in two worlds at the same time. As I would move from one world to the other and back again, I would have these tide pool emotions. The linear world felt comforting, because that is what I knew my whole life, and the art world felt intense and exciting and frankly, a bit scary. I still struggle with the back and forth, finding it hard to stay in one world or the other, although I much prefer the art world and I am getting more comfortable in it.
The world today is a very different place and yet there are still too many barriers and stereotypes that keep us from being the person we are meant to be. What if it was socially ok to be both responsible and creatively exploring all of the time? What if we didn’t have to give up part of ourselves to live our lives and what if we were able to share our talents freely without fear of being seen as weird?
Look to the starfish and the other tide pool creatures who do it everyday. Nobody thinks they are weird, they just are who they are meant to be and that is perfect.
Have a happy day!