Sunday, March 1, 2009

Where the Woolgatherer Lives

Where the Woolgatherer Lives
acrylic on canvas, 48" x 36"


Don't you love the sound of the word woolgathering? And don't you love to do what it means? Daydream. Stargaze. Muse. Waste time. Build castles in the air. Contemplate the light falling in a corner. Imagine if. If I had a billion sheep. Weave wishes. Spin fantasies. Count sheep. Gather wool.

Where'd they get that--woolgathering? I looked it up on The Hindu:

This is an expression that has been around for several centuries. As for its origin, it comes from the world of sheep farming. In the old days, when farmers allowed their sheep to graze, they always sent a couple of women or children along with the animals. When sheep grazed, sometimes tufts of wool got caught in the bushes and on the branches of trees. It was the job of the women/children to gather the wool and hand it over to the farmer. The original `wool gatherers' were actually gathering wool! Since the job of wool gathering didn't require much concentration, it was possible for the individual to let his mind wander — in other words, he could afford to daydream! Hence, the activity of `wool-gathering' became associated with daydreaming!

Woolgathering has a bum rap in western culture. Spend an afternoon contemplating the light falling in a corner and what do you have to show for it? After the sun goes down, a dark corner. And yet...I read somewhere that the theory of relativity was revealed to Albert Einstein in an intuitive moment as he regarded birds migrating across the winter sky. Is that a myth? I dunno. But almost everyone who's taken a junior-high science course knows the story of James Watson going to bed wondering about the architecture of DNA, only to dream of two intertwined snakes. He got his answer (Elementary, Watson. It's a double, my dear, helix!) after counting sheep.

The approach to the place where I gather wool.
(A double helix. Kind of.)

I propose a World Woolgathering Commission whose function will be to encourage the gentle art of woolgathering in every corner of society. Artists will be commissioned to stalk mayors and governors and senators, catch them in dreamy moments of staring idly into space, then capture their likeness in bronze or marble or paint. These likenesses will be erected in public plazas from Grand Rapids to Mumbai to Hobart, Tasmania to inspire all citizenry. Every nation's Gross Domestic Product will include hours logged woolgathering. Particularly dedicated workers will receive daydreaming plaques. These plaques will decorate the new heart center of every home--the WC, or, Woolgathering Center. Televisions will be banished from the WC. As will computers and vacuum cleaners and file cabinets. Small businesses will be granted tax credits for bringing the dreaming infrastructure of their facilities up to code--workstations will be positioned so as to allow employees ample time to regard the hummingbird feeder just outside the window. Every county fair's main event will be the Pie-in-the-Sky Bake-off. Schoolchildren caught woolgathering during lackluster blackboard presentations will be singled out and recognized for their efforts--in the form of a huge glitter-encrusted gold star bearing the daydreamer's name. The star will hang from the classroom ceiling, maximizing serious stargazing opportunities for all students.

No child will be left behind. No wool will be left ungathered.

132 comments:

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Delightful post, San! Now I've added "woolgathering" to my vocabulary and shall enjoy using it.

Thanks you!

San said...

I'm glad you visited me, Nick.

I look forward to seeing the word sneaking into one of your posts.

Raven said...

I like the way you think! My only issue is with calling woolgathering centers WC's as that has another connotation. Maybe WGC's? Great post and another gorgeous painting. When I win the lottery...

San said...

Raven, I wanted to remind people of that other connotation. I see it wasn't lost on you. :-D

Sending you lottery luck. Lots of it...

Maggie May said...

I like the idea of wool gathering! Every one occupied and nothing wasted. Yes, very good....... working together as a team. I like it!

San said...

Maggie May, yes, it's all in the mix, isn't it?

lime said...

you know, i am told that in rural indonesia wool gathering still occurs so that the wool from wild sheep may be spun and woven into garment or mats or something useful.

although sewing or quilting aren't the same i have seen enough spinning and weaving and done enough sewing and (more recently) cutting of quilt squares to know that these activities that tend to be so mindless are wonderful ways to allow the mind to disengage for a little while as you go through the rhythmic patterns.

i really think you've hit on something modern life so often lacks because in these other "productive woolgathering activities" you get to daydream and produce and feel good about everything at the end. i wonder how many office workers or even factory workers both doing repetetive tasks when they zone out get to the end and feel rejuvenated by anything because the wonder about the results of their efforts (since they may be too abstract to really appreciate).

up with wool gathering and day dreaming! wonderful post, san.

aims said...

I am a woolgatherer - literally. I'm off next Saturday to collect some fleeces which I will turn into slippers or mittens or sweaters. A true 'woolgatherer' am I! :0)

self taught artist said...

what a great title for this beautiful painting. i never heard the expression so thanks 4 the enlightening!

Todd said...

San . . . enchanting painting. I love it! Perhaps I'll start woolgathering with my students. We are drumming . . . I want them to create their own patterns . . . I'm gonna give this a whirl!!
Paz.
T.

murat11 said...

Go, girl: I see no wool has gone ungathered out SF-way. They sheep probably be wonderin' why you done took the wool offa them before it drifted natural-like. Anticipatory woolgathering, now that's what I'm talkin about.

Of course, teachers who long ago learned the lesson of working less than they students been summer WG adepts, sho nuff.

Nice of you to come out of the WC to bless us with your sunshine, sweet sister.

Meg Wolff said...

San,
What a fun story! You raised Wool Gathering to it's highest level.

I have a funny story ... once when I was about in the 3rd grade the principal came into rour classroom to talk with our teacher Sister Amarbalis. We were told to sit quietly while they discussed something. They talked for a long time and children started twisting and turning in their seats, starting to talk, and all. I was sitting quietly (a million miles away) and later she rewarded for my behavior. Little did she know that I was "wool gathering" and that sometimes I did this through her lessons if they were uninteresting.

And the painting is wonderfully wooly!!

andrea said...

I have heard that woolgathering (or idleness or call-it-what-you-will) is a necessary prerequisite for creative ideas, so Einstein's aha! moment is not at all surprising. Who says nothing ever came out of a vacuum?

The Finely Tuned Woman said...

I gather wool every day while I have my coffee and cigarettes, I just didn't know it had that name. I have translated it into Dutch so I can tell people here what I am doing. I knew it had some sort of value. It was obvious to me, just not to anyone else.

Thanks for visiting my blog today. I'll add you to my google reader.

That's a wonderful painting, by the way.

Janette Kearns Wilson said...

If the commision needs to be "global" I would love to be the representative for Australia.
IN public spaces I love to just gaze and I feel quite conspicuous perhaps if I wore I "woolgathering" sign it would be more acceptable,.
I still havn't worked out the award thingy but will.
Think the painting looks great acrylic or oils?

San said...

Michelle, I know what you mean--getting into the rhythm of a task is highly conducive to the woolgathering mode. Especially when you can see the end results of the task.

You are appointed Chief Instigator of the Woolgathering Commission. You already know your way around.

San said...

Aims, happy gathering. And to think, someone will wear the spoils of your journeying.

San said...

Paula, thank you! I'm really pleased you find the painting beautiful.

San said...

Todd, your students are lucky. Drumming and woolgathering--I couldn't imagine a more likely pairing.

murat11 said...

And the painting: I'm thinking Italo Calvino...Invisible Cities...Mardi Gras in the sky, on several levels...and Bigfoot's been on the premises, too...

Wondrous wool.

San said...

Paschal, you are one WG adept. The Woolgathering Commissioners are busying themselves finding the right artiste to create your likeness for the Riverwalk. What would Christo do?

San said...

P.S.P. (P.S. Paschal) I see our comments criss-crossed in cyberspace! Calvino and Bigfoot and Mardi Gras (on several levels?) You do know how to spin the yarn, bro. In the best of ways.

murat11 said...

San: Drain the neon green sewer they call the river and fill it with pink lemonade. Tower of the Americas becomes one giant straw.

San said...

Meg, I am getting such a mental image of little Meg daydreaming in the classroom. You had such a pleasant expression on your lovely face, the teacher assumed you were enchanted by her presentation!

:-)

San said...

Paschal, if that's what he'd do, then Mr. C. definitely gets the commission. Such a likeness it will be!

San said...

Andrea, who says? Not me. That's for sure. To the vacuum!

San said...

Finely Tuned, I too have a woolgathering regimen, and it involves coffee. Caffeine and spinning the day's yarn--I'd be lost without my daily ritual.

San said...

Janette, the job is yours! Australia is wisely led.

Thank you for complimenting the painting. It's acrylic. I will amend my post to specify that.

lime said...

oooh, such a prestigious position! i humbly accept. i shall endeavor to inspire others to productive zenlike daydreaming.

San said...

Oh, Michelle, I forgot to mention--the salary is strictly fantasy.

Cath said...

Ah now, I am a great wool gatherer, as was my father before me and my children seem to have mastered the art quite well too...

SandyCarlson said...

I am with you on that. I love the word, too. Culturally we are so focused on filling all our time. I much prefer the idea of sitting back and breathing. We need to do that more.

Beautiful painting, San.

San said...

Cath, there must be a woolgathering gene. Ask Watson.

San said...

Sandy, I've come to feel that some of my best breathing time occurs when I am spattered with paint.

Thank you.

distracted by shiny objects said...

I love that painting. The colors are amazing. Vibrant and rich, but still a place to dream the time away.

Indigo said...

willow

hi
nice to talk
glad you came
nice to hear
thanks :)

San said...

Thank you, Distracted. I almost named the painting 'Jeronimo's House'--after the Elizabeth Bishop poem. You would have gotten it.

San said...

Indi/Willow: Hope you're feeling better.

Lee said...

That's a great post, San! I think I need to work on my woolgathering skills. Or at least find that extra second to totally enjoy being in the moment.

Results of woolgathering on the way back from a garbage moment, I saw a double crescent moon last night. I don't think it was blurred vision. Woulda/coulda/shoulda stayed and looked longer but my bones said get warm. :-) Fire weather winds bringing 35 degrees this AM.

Hugs!
Lee

San said...

That was some post-garbage moment, Lee! A double crescent moon, wow!

San Antonio temps in the 30s? I'm surprised. That would put a spring in my step too, especially with the wind.

Hugs back!

lime said...

then i am free to daydream a salary which allows for wide travel?

Jeff B said...

I like this term much more than "Starring off into space" which I have been both accused of and caught in the act of on numerous occasions.

Jeannette St.G. said...

This is some post - good job!!
Thank you for visiting my blog - both of your comments came on there. I alway welcome another cheese-lover:)
By the way, how long did you have the gallery?
cheers.

Dave King said...

Smashing post! I didn't know the term, used in that sense. I've been one of its most enthusiastic disciples all these years and not realised it!

jsd said...

Reading this left me sad for US society, all go-go-go. No time for siestas, no noonday strolls. We could learn a thing or two from our Europa compatriots.

RiverPoet said...

I love it! Did this post (and painting) come to you during a fit of woolgathering? I'm woefully short on time to woolgather these days, but it is one of my favorite pastimes.

Hugs - D

The Moody Minstrel said...

That sounds like something to put on my resumé and/or business cards:

instructor, musician, woolgatherer

Considering all the good that woolgathering has produced over the centuries, why don't they offer courses in it at vocational training centers?

"Lesson One: stare at this point."

Laura said...

Hi San,

What a wonderful post! I love your Woolgathering Proposal... thank you for reminding me that woolgathering is an important aspect to life!

Laura

CHEWY said...

"WC" - hmm... well, I don't read in the Water Closet... I Wool Gather in there. (chuckle)

"Where the Woolgatherer Lives"
The Woolgatherer's domicile has plenty of windows to gaze out of. I also see plenty of white tufts needing gathering.

~Babs said...

Woolgathering.
Part of my daily routine.
Coffee mug in hand,
checking to see if the world
is still here,
contemplating my navel,
planning the day's "residue of time wasted."
-Einstein.

Great colors in that painting!

Akelamalu said...

Lovely post San. I don't seem to get much time for woolgathering but when I do I thoroughly enjoy it. :)

Tammie Lee said...

My goodness, I love the meaning of woolgathering. I always thought it was solely a person gathering actual wool. I fully support your idea of a world wide day of woolgathering/daydreaming. Perhaps this is the answer to all things that appear to be out of balance. If everyone relaxed and took in the light in the corners so to speak, the muse would have space to rise in and life would never be the same. Brilliant San!

By the way, your painting! It is wonderfully divine! It has been too long since I visited you.

San said...

But of course, Michelle. I wouldn't have it any other way, especially since I will be tagging along.

San said...

You, Jeff--staring into space???

I am shocked. Shocked and disappointed, young man.

San said...

Thanks, Jeannette. I am totally surprised either of my comments appeared. You would not believe what the computer screen looked like at the time. Woolgathering no doubt.

San said...

Dave, no wonder you write (and read) so well--you've got the prerequisite WG credentials mastered. And you didn't even know it! That's the best way to master these things, isn't it?

San said...

Oh, JS, I completely agree.

We have some old friends who live in Paris. When we visited them, they were both working these highly intellectual jobs, but they and their colleagues took long, relaxing lunch breaks. It was in the job description. That and plenty of vacation time.

San said...

Doris! It seems almost all of my paintings involve some time invested in woolgathering. Posts too.

May you find some idle time to fritter away...

San said...

Moody, that's the start of a brilliant lesson plan.

Then again, you're a maestro! Go ahead. Put it on your resume. Put it on your business card. I'll bet you can even take it to the bank.

San said...

Laura, I believe a certain amount of time spent gathering the wool is necessary for me to remember my dreams. Literally and metaphorically.

San said...

Dar, don't give me too exact a mental picture of your woolgathering.

Regarding the painting: yes, I was quite aware of the windows, but now I see the little tufts of fluffy stuff can be taken literally. I love it when my own painting takes me by surprise. You of course know the feeling!

San said...

Babs, what is it about the morning cup of coffee that invites us to linger in the moment and savor that "residue of time wasted"?

Glad you find the colors appealing. You have an eye for color.

San said...

Akelamalu, I know what you mean. The time factor is restrictive. Maybe that's why when we have it, it feels so precious.

San said...

Tammie Lee, thank you for visiting me again. I appreciate your gracious comments on the post. And on the painting! You make me glow. You encourage my woolgathering tendencies.

katie jane said...

Great post, San. I gather wool all day at work. Sometimes too much so. It is a great sport and more people ought to imbibe!

San said...

Kate, you could do that on your job, couldn't you? If more employees in your trade did so, there would be fewer episodes of "going postal."

Deb said...

Hi ~ Count me in! I would be honored to be inducted into the Woolgatherers' Society. I am a daydreamer from way back. I love the next to last line - No child shall be left behind - perfect! Plus I love the colors in this painting. Glad I stopped in and thank you for your kind comment over at my place! I'll be back!

Carol said...

Hey San,

Your painting is like a woolgathering invitation. I could just sit and stare into it and get lost in other lands.

I wasn't familiar with the term, "woolgathering", so thanks for educating me. It's good to have such a wonderful name for something so natural and edifying. Count me in for the World Woolgathering Commission. I'd be happy to get my Ph.D in Woolgathering so that I can be of service.

Celebration of Life said...

Wow, San! I like this post very much and I like the concept of giving us "wool gatherers" an award!
Jo

lmerie said...

Fabulous post! I like the idea of your commission - I bet there would be better approaches to many a problem if all practiced more woolgathering!

Ok, enough woolgathering for me for now. Off to be a little productive - woolgathering to commence later today!

Blue Sky Dreaming said...

How did I know I would love this painting? The title and the colors say it all! I come from a family of woolgatherers only we didn't know our true name. Beautifully written.

Sparkling Red said...

No vaccuum cleaners allowed? You have my vote! ;-)

whimsical brainpan said...

I love the painting San! You do such great work.

I agree that daydreaming gets a bum rap.

San said...

Deb, count yourself IN! And welcome to the club.

San said...

Carol, keep staring at this painting and I will happily award you your honorary doctorate. Your kind words are very much of service to me.

San said...

Jo, I believe we all deserve it!

San said...

Imerie, yes, productivity does have its place, doesn't it? May you tick off your to-do list and enjoy your idle time!

San said...

Mary Ann, thank you. I'm glad that something so lovely runs in your family.

San said...

Spark, I thought that suggested ruling might meet with your approval.

San said...

Whim, thank you. I am eagerly anticipating your unveiling.

Jeanne said...

I love it. "Woolgathering" is a favorite pasttime of mine. I just wish I had more time to spend on it. hehe.

San said...

Know whatcha mean, Jeanne.

The Quintessential Magpie said...

San, that painting is absolutely stunning! I love the colors more than I can tell you. It's captivating. If I ever get out West, I would love to pay a visit to your gallery.

Enjoyed this post...

XO,

Sheila :-)

Sadia Hussain said...

Excellent blend of colors! Love the painting.

Leslie Avon Miller said...

Our Western Culture does leave some things to be desired. Woolgathering might look unproductive, but may be the path to many answers. I notice that around here, my husband’s wool gathering is chopping kindling; a mindless repetitive task he enjoys. Mine is washing dishes by hand, in warm sudsy water and with time to think, followed closely by folding warm laundry…I love your blog San.

Jennifer H said...

Yes, San, yes! What a beautiful idea.

Shrinky said...

Oh san, you sprinkle magic everywhere! I love the joy fling around, it's intoxicating. What a delightful idea (only you)..

The moment I set eyes on this painting it filled me with wonder, it's.. an explosion of happiness. Kindly remind me to visit you more often?

Peter said...

Hi! I didn't realise being a day dreamer was a plus! If I had known I wouldn't have felt so embarrassed when found nodding off or staring into space at the most inappropriate of times. Anyway, I think we do our best thinking during these times!

Take Care,
Peter

San said...

Sheila, I hope you do get out west and I hope you visit us. That would be fun!

San said...

Thank you, Sadia, for the visit, and for your kind comment.

San said...

Leslie, I feel that way about putting the dishes in the cupboards. Some tasks are just like that, aren't they?

I'm so glad you're visiting. I love your blog too.

San said...

Jennifer, I thought you'd agree.

:-)

San said...

Ah, Shrinky, I feel the same. Every time I visit you, I think, 'Why didn't I get over here sooner?'

Thank you for your extraordinary compliments, milady.

San said...

Peter, that's all we can do--our best--and if our best is nodding off--so be it.

Thank you for visiting me.

david mcmahon said...

It was one of my Mum's favourite words, San

Suldog said...

Woolgathering is one of my favorite pastimes! Great post!

Thanks for stopping by over at my place, by the way, and for the birthday wishes. Yes, MY WIFE is amazing.

San said...

David, your Mum must have been wonderful.

San said...

Jim, a Zamboni isn't the best place for woolgathering. Thank you for returning the visit.

Sujatha said...

San, what a wonderful post! Productivity cannot always be measured in bushels, but it is a wise man/woman, indeed, who can actually live by that.

Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment and following.:) I'm going to love coming over to your place as well.

We visited Santa Fe in 2007 over Thanksgiving. We fell in love with your city. It has an awesome vibe!

Merisi said...

Gathering wool in the wild is good for the environment and all other wool gathering enriches the soul - I have nothing but positive connotations with both activities.

Congratulations on David's Post of the Day award! :-)

Willow said...

I too came over from David's post of the day.

I am a woolgatherer, in both senses of the word. I have found that after a stressful day that placing a pile of wool in my lap and letting in flow through my fingers on to the spinning wheel is a theraputic and meditative way to release the stress, allow my mind to relax and wander into more pleasant reveries.

Thank you for the reminder of the roots of my art.

QUASAR9 said...

Great painting

Jeane said...

I really like your painting! and the woolgathering explanation was fun!

Siam said...

The more you learn, the more you know,
The more you know, the more you forget
The more you forget, the less you know
So.. why learn.

Catherine said...

Sounds a wondeful pastime to resurrect in our timedriven society and culture...

Daryl said...

Another great painting and a brilliant proposal, I suspect President Obama would welcome such a suggestion, he strikes me as a man who has gathered a lot of wool and woven its insights into a hellofa career....

Thinking has been seriously under rated for too long ...

Lynette said...

'Where the Woolgatherer Lives' is a lovely work San and I enjoyed reading where that old saying comes from, I had no idea!

Flannery said...

That's beautiful, Mom.

Philip said...

Beautiful painting with wonderful colours. I think I have wool between my ears some days - does that count?

A.Bananna said...

what a fantastic word san!! I hope you have a great week!!

Pinkerbell said...

Oh I could be a champion woolgatherer!! I'm happy that there's actually a name for it which sounds more romantic than being a "thinker" and more purposeful than being a daydreamer! I'm amazed that since I started writing a blog and commenting on others that my woolgathering actually has an end to its means...

david mcmahon said...

Just dropping in to say G'day ....

Sandi McBride said...

Oddly enough San, I knew that's what woolgathering meant...not sure if I picked up that info in this lifetime or the last, but there it was...still fresh in my memory...I'm the queen of the woolgatherers!
Sandi

Anna said...

San you are brilliant, and by the way, me and my husband from now on instead of daydreaming, we are going to do woolgathering, lol, I like it better! Excellent post, well written and always entertaining. Anna :)

San said...

Sujatha, thank you for returning the visit and for making such a thoughtful comment.

I hope you will visit Santa Fe again. You're right about the vibe. Northern New Mexico is a charged place.

San said...

Thanks, Merisi. Yes, I agree. Woolgathering--it's one of those win-win situations.

San said...

Ah, Willow, thank you for painting such a lovely picture in my mind of that art.

San said...

Gracias, Senor Quasar.

San said...

Jeane, thanks for visiting!

San said...

Siam, yours is an interesting logic.

San said...

Catherine, I'm with you. Timedriven is overrated. Let's throw out the clocks.

San said...

Daryl, I like that you've brought our President into the discussion. Taking woolgathering to the next level.

San said...

Lynette, your comment about my painting means a lot to me. Thank you for that.

San said...

Flan, thank you. Wish I were there in San Francisco with you. Happy Birthday to David!

San said...

Philip--wool between the ears? Why, that counts for a lot. And accounts for a lot.

:-D

San said...

Thanks, Anna. And congratulations on your new home!!!

San said...

I know just what you mean, Pinkerbell. Blogging is a good outlet for the woolgathering component at that.

San said...

Well, David, it's always fun to see you.

San said...

Sandi! Long time, no see. The Queen of the Woolgatherers always has a special place here.

San said...

Anna, one word: Shucks! Make that two words: Thank you!

Love to you and your family...

CoyoteFe said...

Eesh, San! I could stand on the tippy top of the Olympic podium for that sport! In fact, it is even written in my karmic record. What I want to know is, did the farmer want to keep the women and childreb out of trouble with this career? One could write a novel, then run around in the last half hour gathering. Where did he think the wool was going to go? Superior woolgathering spot! No wonder you are you! Or is it the other way around? IF we adopt your commission, we will all have to spend our days woolgathering as there will be no place to walk for the statues!

Rising from my Ashes said...

Is that your painting? Its amazing and please dont forget to bring me back here? I would like to follow your blog
Best wishes