It’s the time of year, and the kind of grey Autumn day, to read H.P Lovecraft.
“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.” – The Call of Cthulhu
“Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” – Collected Essays, Volume 5: Philosophy
The world has opened itself to me in the form of endless sunflower fields.
I breathe in the smell of grapes, churning nearby, and listen to the rooster’s morning music. Raindrops hover, bulbous, on blades of grass, shifting prisms of sunlight in the late dawn. I write beneath an olive tree, staring out at rows upon rows of slanted vineyards and lush olive groves.
Limitless, peaceful freedom is both a blessing and a challenge, I have discovered here. It’s a reminder that we must make an effort to engage in acts of human culture every once in a while. To allow ourselves to abandon ambitious pursuits, and simply read, write, exercise, cook, grow, and engage in meaningful conversation. After two months of travel through Europe, and 6 weeks at La Macina di San Cresci, a Residence for Artists in Greve in Chianti, Tuscany, I feel so privileged to not only have truly experienced life, but to have participated in the art of fine living.
I sampled delicacies from 7 different countries, danced all night, read by rivers, boarded boats and trains and tiny little cars on tiny little roads, went to the tops of mountains and bobsledded down them (and sprained my wrist doing so – perhaps I will rethink this particular adventure next time!), traversed valleys, strolled cities, drank cappuccinos, drank (a lot of) fantastic wine, discussed world issues with people from around the world, sat on cafe patios, made lasting friendships, lived and thrived in the countryside, counted the stars, learned, embraced.
And I did it with complete strangers, or completely alone.
Back in May, when I was accepted to the Artist Residency, the decision to go was difficult, but one that I felt I had to make. I was having trouble measuring myself against the world: I felt restless yet stagnant, unmotivated yet desirous, not at peace yet overcome by a peaceful sort of melancholy. I was exhausted from my routine. I needed time away to immerse myself in something new. I felt lost in the right direction.
With the support of my loved ones, I chose to grasp the opportunity, and took some time off work. And I’m so happy that I did. I set out to challenge myself, to examine my mind beyond my comfort zone, to complete a writing project, and to marvel at beauty. And I think I have found what I was looking for.
– Greve in Chianti, Tuscany, Italy
Here are a few pictures from my trip (not in order). For more, check out Instagram @crisrizz
It is a cold, frigid night in Toronto. How lonely the wind makes me feel, enveloping my body in isolation. There is a lot happening outside — snow squalls drift aimlessly and bitterly cold gusts blow garbage, trees, branches, into the street. The bumps and claps and booms make noise, noise that only emphasizes the loud emptiness of this place. I wondered, while walking up the frozen concrete stairs to my front door, how the city would look if all of our creation did not exist. It would be a barren land of ice-laden trees, shoe-print-free snow dunes, darkness after sunset. There would be no tire tracks, no street lights, no debris, no complaining about the weather. It would simply be, in its purest state, and then Spring would come and it would carry on beautifully with no one to see it, living and ageing gracefully anyway, dying, then born again. Are we simply in the way of the earth’s natural processes, or have we created them, new and scary and manipulated, like Dr. Frankenstein and his monster, having rebelled against nature only to die at the hands of his own creation, a modern-day Prometheus.