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Back from Galapagos

I'm back from a trip to the Galapagos. I didn't write a word of description because I didn't find one powerful enough. First of all, I met my son there, whom I hadn't seen for four months, and that alone was enough, but I want to focus on the other things that happened to me.

I had a lot of concerns, to begin with. My passport's validation was limited, the Covid that threatens to be a party pooper, a trip alone with my son for two weeks, and the Galapagos, which is not a destination for the faint of heart... Add to that a few days of scuba diving (I haven't dived in almost 30 years), plus we arrived with the Humboldt current (cold!), but I decided that I would go for it and in the worst-case scenario my son would dive without me.

I packed a fascinating biography about Darwin, who without intending to, branded the Galapagos Islands as a unique place of nature, that one shouldn't just travel to and admire, but notice what one sees there, and also notice what one notice.

So I tried.

I skip the insanely exciting meeting with my son, and go straight to the insights I gained during the trip.

We started with two days of diving. We went out with a boat to the open sea for a cruise of about an hour, and there, at the end of the island, or near the remains of a volcano that grew out of the sea and partially collapsed back into it, there we dived. The sea was high, the boat was rocking and in the midst of all this, it became clear to me that I had to jump into the water by rolling backwards from the side of the boat. "Enough is enough!" I thought to myself, and I was already considering going down with the help of the guide and the ladder, but my son, who was thinking about the next dives, and thought I had to jump into the water (ahha that's where this expression comes from!) told me that I could do it. Of course I jumped. I raised my legs and surrendered to gravity while protecting the mask and the back of my head. Stunning.

But it was only the first time I experienced letting go and devotion in diving.

I have already mentioned the Humboldt current. A particularly cold current that brings with it lots of nutrients and all the big guys: whales, and all kinds of Rays: Eagle Ray, Manta Ray and the like.

The fear of the cold made me equip myself with two diving suits on top of each other. The beauty and excitement made me forget all about it. The more significant confrontation was with the strength of the current. The route was carefully chosen, and thus, swimming perpendicular to the current was short, but enough to demonstrate how difficult and challenging it is, and how wasteful it is of resources (oxygen, of course). But then the moment came to let the current carry us on it. I felt like I was in a water park, gliding down a long slide winding between the corals.

As in painting, I thought to myself, how enjoyable it is to surrender to the process. Of course one has to maintain a certain control and for a moment really hold on to the rock by one's nails, otherwise one might find oneself far from the group, deeper, or, God forbid, rise too quickly to the surface of the water. Also like in painting - this combination between surrender and control, between letting go and understanding the composition...

Then came the third dive. High seas, strong currents, poor visibility, and nothing exciting. I get out of the dive, climb the ladder to the boat with great difficulty and promise myself that this is the last time. But my son does not give up. The one-hour break, on the roof of the boat, while watching the sea lions and the blue-footed birds, made it.

I admit, already during the break, when I came back to my senses, I thought about this parallel to the painting process. The easiest thing was to give up, to declare that it wasn't for me, but if I had given up I wouldn't have experienced the next dive which was the most amazing and exciting I've ever had! (A sea turtle that swam right up to me, a flock of about 40 hammerhead sharks that swam above us, below us and next to us... wow!). If I had given up after the third dive I would have stayed with a bad taste. This was the one that would have engraved in me and that's how I would probably sum up the whole thing of diving. The trick is to keep on going.

And why challenge ourselves so much? This is a question whose answer is where we want to go. If you want to see the big guys, you have no choice but to dive where they hang out - in the open, stormy and cold sea. If you want to develop in painting - you have to paint, and usually this involves frustrations and other difficulties.

Back to Darwin:

Evolution, he said, is small and unintentional changes over time.

Natural selection is a purposeless, but very effective process. It has no goals, it only has results. The only measures for assessing natural selection are survival and reproductive success.

The painting process involves small and unintended changes that happen when we surrender to it. The process is the essence. The paintings are its results, and are the evidence of our survival, or better, success, as artists.

In his book The Origin of Species, Darwin writes: "The more diverse the offspring of a particular species become in structure, character and habits, the more they will be able to hold on to many different places in the realm of nature's rule, and increase the population of that species."

Our job as artists is to be authentic. don't try. Just be. This will ensure artistic diversity and the ability to develop in the most correct and safest way.

And how much freedom there is in this understanding.


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