Quantum Identity IV: The Tragedy and Ecstasy of Decomposing Life

One day near the close of summer I was walking in the alley beside my house, here in Tucson, Arizona, and I was spellbound by the tall and incredibly green grasses that had sprung up seemingly overnight, exploiting the sudden string of rains we had enjoyed.  I thought about how quickly things become green here, in this place of resurrection ferns, brittle bush, ocotillo, and other plants that look dead, then all of a sudden spring to green life with the slightest bit of rain.  I thought about how autumn is a time of decline, and yet is also the time when seeds and spores are being produced extravagantly, and how this is often true in our lives as well.  How many times have I thought my life was in a state of decline, when in reality there were seeds being sown in virtually every area, ensuring a coming harvest or blessing of some sort?

That's what this piece is about.  Sometimes the periods in our life most full of death, decline, or lack, are also the times when the most important growth happen.  Nearly everything in this world participates in the cycles of loss and growth, death and life, birth and destruction and rebirth again.

Rich autumnal colors dance with vibrant green and literal seeds in this piece, and an old husk from a bottle tree pod that I found on a walk bursts with green jewels.

There is a poem that corresponds with this piece, though I didn't realize the connection immediately.  I wrote the poem a couple of weeks after completing the painting, but the ideas in the painting were still orbiting the constellation of my daily thoughts and meditations.  There are several lines in the poem that I think I may not have come up with had I not expressed them first in this piece:


Late summer


Means the million tones of brown

Have yielded to green

As grasses and spiny things


Exuberate in their sprint of growing


To feed the coming riot

Of seeds

That they will scatter

With wild abandon

Just then

As the weather turns

And everyone thinks of death

Click on the photo to enlarge.  Acrylics, saguaro seeds, a bottle brush seedpod, and vintage Swarovski crystals on a discarded canvas.


This artwork explores the idea of finding exuberant life even in the inevitable decay of life.  Decomposition - literal, emotional, spiritual, bodily, social, professional, and all the different ways we experience decay - is both heartbreaking and joyous, both full of loss and full of potential.

To read the complete poem, click here.