Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Spirituality in Miniature

Why do we do what we do?

I am not sure I ever asked my self that question until I hit my mid thirties.  I always enjoyed my work. From chef to coffeehouse owner to musician to recording engineer to multimedia performer.  Everything I set out to do in my life has been, for the most part, a joyful experience.

Each brought new insight and understanding to my world and each has imparted something to the creative path I am on now.

When I think about what I do now, the reason I make miniatures, why I create little worlds and spiritual descansos and dabble in whatever suits me on any given day, I see it is directly related to the days of my childhood.

There are, in play, rituals as profound as any other we may experience in adulthood.  Ones that set us on a path that, if it is true to our nature, will remain with us forever. As I began to ask the questions of "why" in my life, all the answers seemed to point back to those early days. And, the more I realized this, the less satisfied I was with the things I pursued as my "work".

When I was 12, and my mother decided it would be ok for me to have my first true model railroad,
I had no idea what lay ahead of me. I was instantly consumed with the planning and layout and creation of the miniature "world" beneathe our holiday tree. It came naturally to me. Just as I had done my whole childhood, I created stories and sub-plots for what went on in my little train town.

It became a ritual to bring the town to life every year and create new stories within it by adding new features. I started earlier, often planning the setup as early as my school summer vacation and I left the village and train up later each year.

The art of miniature from railroads to dollhouses to terrariums to keepsakes allows for the creator and the buyer to indulge in this highly spiritual ritual. The time spent on  such things is meditative and relaxing and allows for the creator to "get away" from the other life they may lead.

We can create ideal places and can pour our innermost dreams and desires for how we wish to live our own lives into them. We make a ritual out of the creation and care of such places and, indeed, the way we tend them over time often runs parallel to the way we tend to our other, adult lives. And sometimes, when that falls out of balance on the imagination side, it is a sign that we should look at changing that "real world" around us to reflect what it is we are missing.

So yes, for me the creation of miniature is truly about ritual and a spiritual application of the work it takes to make such things.

Ritual combines repetition and a certain spiritual or religious observance . . . and both of these are traits that, I believe, are common in many of us during our childhood years.

We cultivate ritual in our games and in our imagination. Those worlds we create are what keep us aligned with our true inner voices. They speak through the roles we create and adopt within those adventures, It stands to reason then that I also believe one of the things we cast aside all too often in our desire to be "adults" is that ritual of wonder.But it is never far away.

Life offers every opportunity to find or create such places again.
Along the way we do need reminders though.
We need little votives marking possibility
Miniatures may act like polestars.
They may be signposts
They can keep us on track

I have never been more content than I am right now in my life. I feel completely at ease with what I do and where I am going with it. In between childhood and this moment, I definitely lost my way at times. But it is funny how, along the way, there would always come a reminder. . .

A model railroad catalog
An artist working in miniature
Walking through a toy store or hobby shop
Sitting in the silence and ritual of a monastery
Visiting old, forgotten towns that seem to linger in simpler days
These were my polestars
They kept me close to the path
Tugged at my childhood love of ritual
Once again became my religion
They brought me back home

And I will never leave again. . .

nicolas hall

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