I thought I wanted
my own studio.

I thought I wanted
my own fireplace.

I thought I wanted
to perfectly compose.

Then came a kitten’s paw
batting at my crayons.

Then came his furry belly
rolling open for a scratch.

Then came Joy the cat
snoring on my doona as I drew.

Then came our fast-growing son
laughing, “look, mum! Look”.

Would I have heard
these miaows through walls?

Would I have heeded
these fleeting calls?

Would I have seen
these faces at all?

– Naomi Byrnes

Prompted by a meditation on “The Artist’s Studio” by Jean-Baptiste Camille Carot, image courtesy National Gallery Washington. 

Would you like to explore what “The Artist’s Studio” inspires for you? Free visual meditation available here.

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (French, 1796 – 1875 ), The Artist’s Studio, c. 1868, oil on wood, Widener Collection

On the theme of meaning …

Before writing the poem, I had also listened to Mary McKenzie’s meditation on the universal need for “meaning” in life. (Part of her 21 day series for the holiday season). I see its echoes in the words and imagery that arose for me from the meditation on Carot’s studio scene.

When I heard people sharing after Mary McKenzies meditation about how their body had responded to the energy of meaning, I had a new appreciation of the benefits of being curious about “mundane” moments in life.

I enjoyed hearing how the “menial” act of changing a litter tray or packing a dishwasher can have a sense of meaning if I’m full present to it, and aware of the choices I’m making. Why am I doing this? how am I contributing to life through this act? Why do I choose to do it, even when I don’t love it? What needs of mine are met by caring for these cats and my environment? 

Do you find this possibility intriguing too – exploring meaning in the “unpleasant” moments of daily life?

The topic led me to think again  about Victor Frankl’s experiences in the concentration camps, which he offered in his book “Man’s Search for Meaning”. (You might enjoy this previous blog post here).

Initially, after meditating on this picture, I wrote two other poems and just made marks with my oil pastels. Then, suddenly this morning, the words of this particular poem flowed out.

Would you like to explore your own body’s response to “The Artist’s Studio” in Carot’s artwork (below) and the word ‘meaning’. Click here for the guided visual meditation.