The Journey Into Art: Seeing (and Touching) Is Believing

May 7, 2019

I have read a fair amount about the southwest US and the ancient ones who had lived there. I have seen many pictures of ruins of their dwellings and other artifacts found. Unfortunately that is all head stuff to me. You know...words on paper, nice pictures, a good story.

So the first time I looked down at my feet and saw shards of pottery over 700 years old lying on the ground, I realized that I had seen what I had read. It was indeed real! Picking it up to feel its surface and see the painting on its surface made it all come to life for me. In my hand I held something of the people in the southwest US many generations before I had come to this place.

It was in the seeing and touching that made it real to me, not in the reading about it beforehand. I did believe what I had read, but I really knew when I could touch and see it.

Some of us just have to touch reality to believe in its reality.

In the midst of my excitement I wanted to take home a piece or two or three to remember this event and my experience, to claim the experience as my own.

I must confess that I have taken a few home, yet they lay in a jar that is rarely seen. Since those early times I have left those shards of pottery where they lay. It's not that I don't pick them up, but I put them back where I found them. It just seems right to me to lay then back on the ground, where others have lived, showing the evidence of their having lived there.

I have read Craig Child's book Finders Keepers. He presents a compelling argument to leave what one finds where it was found. However we all have to decide what to do when we see signs of the ancients. (I must confess that should I find an intact pot somewhere, I would have great difficulty leaving it where I found it.)

Reading his book and some of his others have greatly influenced my approach when coming upon the viewing of ancient artifacts in their natural place.

Perhaps it is best to spend the time in contemplation in the presence of an object, artifact, or ruin. Perhaps it is best to reach out with one's imagination and empathy to see what has been before. For it was indeed a different world...and they were much different people from me.

It is best, when thinking of those who come behind us, to leave what we see in place. I would hope that those who came before me left what they saw for me to see when I passed by. I should in turn leave it for those who come by later. But in the end though, I can only make that decision for myself.

Pottery shards on the ground, brought to the surface by recent rains.

A site of an ancient pueblo.

Pottery shard on the ground.

Pottery shard on the ground.

Pottery shard on the ground.

Pottery shard on the ground.

A collection of pottery shards found on private land.

Pottery shards on the ground.

Pottery shards on the ground.

A beautiful pottery shard.

A beautiful pottery shard painted with yucca stands.

An ancient pueblo site.

Pottery shards on the surface of the ground.