Divine Discontent

There is a pull to become better, to excel– be a better professional, a stunning artist, a remarkable person. Be more! This quality of never being satisfied is divine discontent.

In our striving to be more, we get seduced into thinking that it is all happening "out there", and so we become busier and busier.

This painting ignited my imagination about our longing to reach toward some distant land, to manifest our dream. Our vision is out there like a small "x", sitting just above the horizon.

The horizon is a symbol for this longing. It is as far as we can see, the border of our vision. It is the paradox of what keeps us dissatisfied, as well as what anchors us in manifestation. It connects us with what we do not know and cannot see, and where we dream of going. What is just beyond the horizon?

The contemporary artist, Bill Viola, talks eloquently about this place where the sky meets the earth. What is it? The horizon is something that is known the world over, independent of culture. It is a perfect metaphor for divine discontent: Everyone can see it, and everyone sees it from a slightly different and unique perspective. But where is it? It is always “out there”, for no matter how diligently or quickly we walk toward it, it recedes. We cannot touch it or reach it. It’s an essential part of our landscape, yet it cannot be found on any map. The horizon is not actually a physical place. Yet reaching toward the horizon, holding our vision, striving for where we want to go, is key to movement, growth and perspective as human beings.  It is a symbol for the invisible structure that informs the visible world– what Viola refers to as the “second architecture”.

We live in a sea of people that believe the map is the whole story. There is no space for the unknown, for imagination, as there was in the early maps with monsters along the borders. We dismiss what cannot be proven. The horizon, our vision, is a reminder of what we cannot see or measure. It is our job to keep the unknown, the mystery, alive. This is where the juice is, where we find renewal.

For each step toward our vision we take in the manifest world, we must take a step inward. Whereas popular culture dictates a wham sensation or explosion for thirty seconds of fame, each step inward is an imperceptible movement that keeps us honest. Far more powerful is the willingness to begin right where we are, and consider our work an offering, however small. The sense of smallness, of humility comes naturally when seen in relation with the awe of the unfathomable vastness of what is beyond the horizon. The feeling of not knowing where to begin, of not having much to offer, is the divine part of the discontent. It is authentic. We plunge in in spite of our felt inadequacy. It is what Pablo Neruda was expressing in his poem, "Poetry", when he refers to the first faint line:

I did not know what to say, my mouth had no way with names, my eyes were blind, and something started in my soul, fever or forgotten wings, and I made my own way, deciphering that fire, and I wrote the first faint line, faint, without substance, pure nonsense, pure wisdom of someone who knows nothing, and suddenly I saw the heavens unfastened and open,