What would the world be without serendipity?
If you’ve watched the official Poetry of Presence book trailer, you’ll remember the gentle guitar soundtrack. We chanced upon “Goodnight Esme (Instrumental Version),” composed and performed by Axletree, while searching the Internet for Creative Commons music to use in our video. As soon as we heard the piece, from the album Cormorant (pictured below), we knew it was just what we needed.
Shortly after we completed our book trailer and uploaded it to YouTube, this comment was posted on the video’s page:
Thank you for putting this video together, a lovely choice of images and the music works really well, I’m pleased it resonated with mindfullness, which is where it emerged from 🙂 Have a wonderful summer
The comment was signed “Axletree—Alexander Westmacott.”
Alexander Westmacott, we learned at his website, is an artist and philosopher. “Axletree” is a project by which he’s “exploring and promoting traditional agriculture and rural ways of life through art, with the aim of increasing human and environmental wellbeing.”
Since Poetry of Presence is an anthology of mindfulness poems, we were thrilled to learn that “Goodnight Esme” had also sprung from mindfulness practice. We contacted Alex and asked if he might share some reflections on the subject. He responded immediately:
Thank you so much for suggesting I write a little about mindfulness. It is a topic that means a lot to me. I am a lay monk in the Christian tradition and mindfullness plays a very important part in my life. So here goes….
I was touched that [you] chose this piece of music to promote Poetry of Presence, although perhaps I can’t say it is my music. As a poet myself, and as a philosopher and a monastic, I have learned gradually to understand the message from artists throughout history, who have said that their art is not theirs.
When we create, something organic emerges. Our thoughts & feelings take form and become something new, with a life of its own. In mindfullness we learn to recognise the truth that, much as we might like to, we cannot take the credit or the shame for our ideas.
Art grows out of mindfullness like a plant grows out of the soil, and just as we can tend a plant, care for it, and hope it comes to fruition, so we hope that our art manifests a deeper meaning. But also like the plant, we know that this meaning comes not from ourselves, but from life—from the heart of what is is to be alive.
In bringing together this anthology, I sincerely hope that more people young and old will come to recognise and cherish the gift that mindfullness offers us, as a path to this heart, and as a return to our own lives, and to the overwhelming presence and delicate beauty of life itself.
Alex even generously shared with us a short poem he’d written “some time ago”:
As in January waking finds a snow
That whispers for the wintr’ing seeds to grow.
Like a rolling mist that turns to frost
But’s gone tomorrow;
Little gained, or lost.
There’s such sweet serendipity in all this! Thank you, Alex, for the gift of your music, your poetry, your soul. May you continue to touch this world with gentleness. All blessings on you and Axletree!
Click on the album image below to listen
to more of Alex’s music and poetry on the Free Music Archive.