On Thankfulness and Ritual
By Ben Tyler Elliott
November 23, 2022
Before I draw anything, I always thank my hands. To myself, I say: “About a zillion amputees would love to steer these mitts.”
And then, holding them up before me, I say, “Hands, you and me — we gotta get along because we’re stuck together forever.
“And we’re lucky to be so.”
The platitudes then complete, I close my eyes, extend my arms, and spin my chair seven times counterclockwise to invoke the muses to take hold, and they do…
And then I am adrift upon a river of hue and shape, of value and chroma — of art at its most elemental.
How much, I cannot say.
Inevitably, I return to my body to discover that I have metamorphosed again into flow incarnate.
Into a conduit for the raw, primordial creativities that thrum and roil along the permeating ether that interstices unseen between imagination’s every atom, and whose vibrations comprise all substance, light, and depiction.
All ego deteriorates. Sublimates. Is subsumed by the breath of its becoming into that avatar of mark-making, all ink and fury, which marshals my psyche in a direction I cannot describe.
We ascend into my planar form.
And there enraptured, with my hand but blur before me, we realize a moment of quantum superposition: I know not where the pen ends and our flesh begins.
And at that ephemeral juncture, an enormousness of peace and gratitude slams into me like an Oldsmobile driven by an unlicensed epileptic.
Gratitude toward myself and my experience of my universe, of which I am the obligate center.
Gratefulness for the ability to learn, and for the small luxury of what time and space at all to do so.
Appreciation of the fact that drawing a portrait — any portrait — is neither a felony nor misdemeanor in all fifty states, plus Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and I think maybe Guam.