As a salve to some loneliness,I have doggedly carried around a book by Natalie Goldberg called Living Color. For 15 years. I have it on my table in the studio. And then beside my bed under a pile of New Yorkers. And then I take it on holiday.
Technically, she isn't my friend. Goldberg boldly paints raw paintings of things she loves. She does rickety trucks and cafes, an old stove. Her father’s face. The paintings are more peasant than MoMA. They are free of that dystopian aesthetic that seems to rule the art world. Her prose alongside these paintings is an expression of affection and gratitude for the texture of life. I chuckle at my attachment to this crumbling book and how it moves around in my physical life. People must feel this way about the bible; comforting guidance to get you back on track. A psychic hearth. Goldberg has spent her life encouraging bankers and dentists and housewives to go to cafes and write down their thoughts, reminding them to keep their hand moving across the page.
I wonder if it grieves her that she has never written a notable novel. Instead, has spent scads of her life sitting on a meditation cushion, quelling demons. Goldberg's emphasis isn’t to encourage lofty work, but rather to treasure the flow of life, to keep energies moving. She paints privately beside gas stations, under mountains. Then she writes quietly in a chinese restaurant in New Mexico. Following that, she heads out into the world and waves the flag for what is personal and universal, sad or ecstatic, fractured or whole. She reminds reader to give this noble part of ourselves some serious real estate, Reminding us to hold that ineffable thing as something precious. And something deep in whispers, remembering again, “This is right, this is how we are meant to be.”