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Sunday, April 28, 2013


What is more important--seeing something or experiencing it?

Last weekend, I spent an early morning hour out on my deck, wrapped in a blanket, staring up at the stars with the hope of getting a glimpse of the Lyrid meteor shower.  I braced myself for the dark and the cold; it was 30 something degrees.  I enjoyed the darkness and the quiet.  I was surprised by all of the random noises I heard--neighbors coming home, people laughing indoors, and scurrying critters that I hoped weren't skunks.  Ultimately, I stared up appreciating the calm and quiet.  I enjoyed watching stars popping through the clouds and thinking of my daughter singing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star."

I didn't see any meteor showers, but I enjoyed the experience of being bundled up staring at the sky and wondering-wondering what was up there, wondering how many other people were looking at the same sky.  It was peaceful to get lost in the vastness especially after the horrible violence in my state earlier in the week.  It was nice to think about bonding with others over this quiet experience rather than over being glued to news reports of bombings, pain, and tragedy.

Sometimes things can make us feel like we're part of a community--like we're part of the victims, like we're part of the heroes, like we're part of the universe.

The next morning, my dad emailed me questioning why I was up with the vampires when I could just look at web sites the next day for pictures.  Sure, the librarian in me knows I would research the shower after the fact, but there's something that web site couldn't give me--the experience.

What's more important--finding the quick answer or taking some quiet time for myself, lying down on my deck, and taking the chance that I might see something I've never seen before in person?

Do you prefer:

  • to view a piece of artwork in a museum to see the brush strokes, the texture, and the size in comparison to other pieces around it, or to look at a dimensionless photo of the same work online?
  • to do a yoga DVD in your living room with the phone and laundry looming in the background, or to visit a studio with a trained instructor who can answer your questions, peaceful music, and other people sharing the experience?
  • to walk down the aisle of silk flowers at a craft store, or, allergies aside, stroll through a rose garden taking in the scents, colors, textures, and pretty visiting pollinators?
Each option is valid and has its merits just like with learning the Zentangle method.  Many of us enjoy finding patterns and being inspired by books, web sites, and other sources, but a web site can't show you everything.  Do you prefer to learn in a creative environment with other tanglers, with a certified teacher (CZT) who can help you over a tangling block, and a relaxing and safe space to try new things?  

Which is more important finding the answer or the experience of getting there?  Again, both ways are valid at times, but I fear that there will be many tanglers who miss the true point of the Zentangle method.  It's not about amassing patterns rather the experience of achieving focus, being centered, and meditating through the process of creating beautiful artwork.  As children teach us, it's about the process not the product.

My week was yet again lost to the universe of an insane schedule, but it gave me more time to think about how important this topic is to me.

Thank you to the Diva for our Earth Day 115 challenge this week.  I used a pre-strung Zendala tile that reminded me of the earth.  I started with some Distress Ink in brown, green, and blue for earth tones.  To break myself out of my usual box, I decided to randomly tangle the Zendala.  Instead of using the symmetry provided by the string, I tangled each area with a different pattern using colors one might see looking at the Earth from space.  I used brown, green, and blue microns, and left white space for the land, sea, and clouds.  It took a long time to create this piece, and while it still feels a bit weird to me because it isn't a traditional Zendala, I enjoyed creating it.  It was fun to think about all the patterns to fill in each space and to play with the colors.  Maybe if you look at it from a far enough distance, while squinting, you might see the Earth.  Then again, does it really matter what it looks like if I enjoyed the process and tried something new?


  1. Like the transitioning border and the variety of tangles that you used. You all ready now the answer to the question posed at the end.

  2. Wow, your zendala Earth Day is very beautiful!!!
    And thank yoo for sharing your thoughts Emily! That looking at the stars and feeling all this peace was a good thing to do.

  3. Gorgeous zendala and really lovely post! I love star gazing and when we camp in the mountains at elevation the stars are amazing. I love how these experiences connect us with the vastness of our universe.