Personal

It’s that time in my life to now give ample and fearless consideration to what it means when one’s physical capabilities are diminishing, but one still wants to be “in service”.


For inspiration I look to poet Mary Oliver.

Lines Written in the days of Growing Darkness

Every year we have been
witness to it: how the
world descends

into a rich mash, in order that
it may resume.
And therefore
who would cry out

to the petals on the ground
to stay,
knowing as we must,
how the vivacity of what was is married

to the vitality of what will be?

I don’t say
it’s easy, but
what else will do

if the love one claims to have for the world
be true?

Mary Oliver

The line most ripe with meaning is: “…the vivacity of what was is married to the vitality of what will be.”

The two words that ring out within this line: vivacity and vitality.

In other words, as I approach my 72nd year, I can inspire and impart vitality to the next generation of people following in my footsteps by remaining full of vivacity in my later years to the very end.

I can do this as mentor and elder.

And it is not just young people who, through my vivacity could become vital in their later years. It is the earth itself. Let me continue to plant — literally and figuratively — seeds of growth for future generations of trees and all forms of life forces.

And here’s another Mary Oliver poem that offers encouragement — to anyone of any age — to live a vivacious life.

When Death Comes

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measly-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

Mary Oliver

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Legacy

October 16, 2016

I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.

Rilke

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Turning 70 this year has motivated me — or, more correctly, forced me — to look at my mortality and eventual death and get serious on formulating and legalising what Windgrove’s future will be.

With neither a partner nor any children to give my estate, this allows an opportunity to broaden the nature of just whom might be the recipients. A more altruistic, global endeavour, perhaps?

On the other hand….. having spent the past 25 years — yes, that is a quarter of a century — working almost daily to shape the land (9,000 trees planted), create studio art, create site-specific land art (Peace Garden, Peace Fire, Gaia Evolution Walk), and, clean rain gutters, chop wood and wash dishes along with hosting countless numbers of visitors, artist-in-residents and workshop participants, I could be forgiven if I choose to sell up everything, move to California and rest my butt at a cafe in Berkeley getting fat on an endless supply of coffee and croissants.

But… as the Rilke poem suggests: I live my life in widening circles… and even though I may not complete this last endeavour, I will give myself to it: body, mind and soul.

This is the fearless artist speaking, forever envisioning and walking into the unknown. For now, the more lazy, comfort seeking inner voice is taking a back seat while the Windgrove legacy is being drawn up.

After you finish reading this blog Legacy, scroll back to the top where you will see a posting entitled Windgrove’s Future. Take a moment to click on here and, then, download your copy of the brochure that outlines what has been planned.

And, while there, please submit your name and email address for future updates.

The photo below is an aerial image by Dan Bailey of eight of the “widening circles”.

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May Peace Prevail on Earth

November 16, 2015

If family stories are true, my father started primary school at 18 years of age and went straight through to a master’s degree in accounting.

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He arrived in America by boat and, like most immigrants loved his new country. More often than not his eyes would well up with tears when he sang America’s national anthem.

Throughout his life, though, he felt the pressure of being a foreigner in a new land. His surname Adamov was changed to Adams, not because he was ashamed of his heritage, but discrimination against “foreigners” wouldn’t allow him the freedom to move up the social/economic ladder as quickly as his desires and needs to support a family wanted to move along.

As a young lad, my father spent the entirety of WWI in Serbia. As an adult and because of what he saw and experienced of war, he shunned conflict and worked hard to make friends of Catholics and other people outside his historic ethnic Serbian Orthodox religious biases — even marrying my mother, a Protestant.

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“Within every wound their is the seed of hope.”

Our global society is being severely wounded. And tested.

Every culture, including my “adopted” country Australia, has an unconscious xenophobic fear of immigrants, asylum seekers and those newly arrived. It rises to the surface when stirred up by the insanity of terrorism, but also by shock jocks, politicians and religious leaders looking to promote their particular world view.

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My father chose peace, forgiveness and compassion over millennia of fear, distrust and hatred of “The Other”.

Make no mistake, my father had some wide fault lines in his character after experiencing what he experienced as a youth. But his chosen path — however rocky — was towards Peace.

I can do nothing less than honour him and the path he chose by walking this path myself.

Perhaps, even changing my name back to Adamov?

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To self-medicate or not?

October 7, 2013

“The angina tablet was already doing its work, the tightness in his chest was retreating, the tingling in his arm had gone, and though some wild internal disorder beyond medicine remained in his quaking soul he felt well enough to return from the hotel bathroom to the bedroom.”

Richard Flanagan, from “The Narrow Road to the Deep North”

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Let’s face it, life can be so difficult at times that a bit of self-medication can allow us to get through the day. The inference from the Flanagan quote is that the masking of the problem with prescription or non-prescription drugs or alcohol or, even, hanging out in the garden directly munching broccoli, is never a cure.

It does help, however. And who can blame anyone for doing what they do to ease the pain. I suppose what we have to ask is whether or not the actions we take to lessen the torment also lessens our ability to do the Work required to make the world (or, on a smaller scale, our personal lives) a happier place for ourselves and everyone.

When my soul quakes, I prefer to go to the veggie patch or elsewhere into nature and become — for a moment — distracted by the inherent beauty so richly abundant in all that grows. The minutia of life always astounds and helps settle whatever is troubling.

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Always

Inside the trees, where tomorrow
hides along with years, tomorrow
stirs. And there my sisters
never born touch lips to bark
and begin to sing:

Brother of Air, Brother of Sun,
please tell our story, that we
may live in the brief wind.

Wherever I stand I hear the trees
petition so. By listening
I know I’m born. By turning
the forest back toward itself
I live as a friend of trees:

Listen together; be ready.
You may be born.
I touch the bark
and call deep as I can:
Part of me.

William Stafford

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And so I do what I can to stem the flow of incapacitating emotions and get on with the job of carving sculptures that can help tell the stories of the trees, the stones, water and wind.

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On being naked

May 14, 2013

Just after lunch last Wednesday, with the hope of finding the last two rocks missing from the Drop Stone Bench, I went down to the area just below the 50 foot cliff where they had been tossed off. My hopes were up because the day was wonderfully sunny with a soft off shore breeze, it was a low New Moon tide coupled with an atmospheric high pushing the water even further down, and, the swell had dropped to a manageable size.

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To cut a long search and rescue mission short, I carried two stones home. Boy, was my face beaming. My smile went from ear to ear. And, I couldn’t help but express my joy by taking a Vitruvian stance. This is not “exhibitionism”; rather, a humble unencumbered human exhibiting gratitude to the joy of being alive.

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Below, I’ve photoshopped away half of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man” to highlight the pose I take to express this joining of ecstasy with a sense of being animal. A sensual connection to earth rarely experienced by urban dwellers.

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In the movies, the good guy points a gun at the bad guy and says: “Put your hands up!”. The raised arms of the bad guy are an indication of submission, of being defenseless, of vulnerability, of being arrested and held in the power of someone/something else.

In the same way, when one is feeling victorious and there is no need to “defend” oneself by risking total exposure, we tend to uncrouch and — as the stadium fans do when their team scores a goal — throw our hands and arms up into the air in a type of archetypal surrendering to the gods as a salute of joyous thanks.

And by doing this Vitruvian salute, we symbolically become one with sky and earth. Energetically, we are the tree-of-life rooted to the earth extending branched fingers heavenward.

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All my life, whenever I’ve been out in nature and felt moved by the beauty surrounding/enveloping me, I have intensified the experience by shedding clothes with zero embarrassment. I do this as an artist wanting to taste creation. I do this as a lover wanting to express satisfaction in my lover.

Take the “em” out of embarrass.

The word embarrassment comes originally from the French embar: to enclose within bars; to imprison.

When we are embarrassed by nudity, we are closing ourselves off to a direct connection to nature; we are imprisoning ourselves in a religious and cultural mindset that denies our animalness, and hence, our sensual and evolutionary links to Gaia.

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Although not quite proportionally accurate, a more symbolic representation of the ideal human is Cesare Cesariano’s “Vitruvian Man” done 30 years after Leonardo’s drawing.

Just below the belly button is an erect penis. Does this represent the erotic nature and creative aspect of birth — the life potential sperm conduit of the “divine masculine”? Even as it points directly towards the naval — the remnant umbilical cord that connects all humans to the universal through the womb and the “divine feminine”?

I recognize that various friends, colleagues and readers of this blog will view the above photos with a certain mixture of bemusement and even concern; most likely thinking that “Peter” has lived in the woods too long and has, perhaps, gone a bit too feral?

To all who profess an interest in environmental philosophy and education, deep ecology and earth based arts, or, simply wanting to make a more real connection to nature in order to mitigate the causes behind climate change, let me say this:

“To really rejoice in who we truly are as individuals; to have full possession and use of our bodies to partake in all the sensual pleasures nature has bestowed on us; to make sure we embody the wisdom needed to bring about a thriving, just and spiritually fulfilling world…. go hence to the middle of a sunny field, the edge of a cliff top, a waterfall, a lake, a grove of trees. Take a stance. Strip off your clothes. Spread your legs wide open. Thrust your arms upward. Then, from deep within your animal belly, shout a shout announcing your place on this earth.”

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PS. The last photo is a self portrait on Cheju Island in South Korea in 1970 when I was an impressionable 23 year old just beginning my journey towards understanding the real work of this world.

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A privileged life earned

October 29, 2012

Twenty one years ago — against the advice of many well meaning friends — I purchased 100 acres of coastal land south of Hobart at the same time as quitting a tenured teaching position at the University of Tasmania. Thus, in pursuit of a full time 24/7 connection to an actual landscape/waterscape/skyscape, rather than the citified, intellectualized, institutionalized, romanticized view of nature, I ventured onto and into a whole new way of being.

It is one thing to be a student of the environment whilst ensconced in the cultural safety net of urban living. Quite another to abandon this altogether and come face to face with one’s maker on a daily and nightly basis. The first four years were without electricity, telephone, TV, radio, running water or any other “convenience” associated with “civilized” living.

As with any journey of discovery into the unknown, the initial “price” paid for the privilege of living so closely with the earth slowly moved away from the deficit side of the ledger. With each ensuing year, whether it be psychic income or creative/artistic income or emotional income or relational income, all gained momentum. Today, the balance sheet of my small yet sweet life sits comfortably in surplus.

Not that the rains of sadness, grief and pain don’t shower down anymore. They still do. But the ability — and willingness — to remain out in the rain comes with a certain sense of well being attached to contentment.

Soaking in a perfumed bath at the end of a “Work” day, whilst water droplets trickle down eucalypt leaves unto on my wrinkled face, is the just reward gained for perseverance, patience and loving.

Being bathed by the water element in an atmosphere of water is a luxury and privilege known only to those willing to abandon all.

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