Calvin’s Guiding Hand

calvins guiding hand - blog size watermarked copy

Movement. Mobility. Expression. Freedom. Strength. Overcoming.

These were the descriptive words that Calvin offered me as I embarked on his Guiding Hand piece. He had requested this personal work after seeing the one I did for myself a few years ago with the hopes of anchoring his own intentions.

I wasn’t surprised with his very action-oriented words and the essence that he wanted to capture. Calvin is quick on all levels – body, mind, and spirit.

His body is large enough to have the strength to balance on railings, stand on his hands, and hold his body weight. And he’s small, lean, and agile enough to travel lightly as he leaps off ledges and flips over obstacles in his free running pursuits. This quickness of movement is evident in the photos he chose to depict his intentions for the art piece.

Calvin’s mind moves fast in order to keep up with his extensive interest in how things work. If he desires to know more about various computer languages or physics theories or anything else, he picks up a book and learns what he’s seeking lickety split and then moves onto the next burning interest. There’s no time to waste with long, drawn-out classes and explanations because there’s so much more to learn. His mind is even busy as he sleeps. Dreams and reality are separated by a very thin veil in Calvin’s world. He listens to his dreams, creates business plans and math equations in them, solves inner problems, and plays.

And his mind moves very easily from any one of life’s big questions to the next, sifting through all of the information, discerning what is valid and worth keeping, as well as what must be set aside. We have literally had 100s of hours of conversation related to an array of topics. Fascinating conversation. One of my favorite quotes ever is from Calvin after one such exchange in which he was mentally working through his career purpose in life. He is passionate about so many things and thus was having difficulty narrowing them down to one declared major as is expected in college. His conclusion:

Isn’t it enough to be passionate about being passionate? Isn’t that the truth here?

I knew in that moment that he was going to be OK. He had figured out the essence of life. He was 18 at the time.

Which brings me to the quickness of his soul, his inner self. He came into this world eager to sort out his purpose, questioning convention from day one. Whenever he finds a piece of his purpose to guide him on his path, all contrary obstacles get discarded so he can focus only on what resonates with his soul. As a result, he has worked through and gotten clear on collective patterns that are often limiting, outdated belief systems, and labels that frequently get tacked onto oneself but don’t really apply. He has achieved a level of inner insight that often takes people a lifetime to gain. After watching him for these 21 years, I see that this level of understanding is his secret to the freedom he feels and the joy he has in living. Unencumbered by excess, virtually free of conventional structures, he is able to follow his inner compass.

Don’t get me wrong, Calvin loves structure. He’s not flighty or untethered by any stretch of the imagination. He loves the fundamental patterns of universal proportions as well as the manmade structures to communicate – the ascii table (depicted on his piece), the binary code, the Golden Ratio, and the Fibonacci Sequence are just a few. Look them up. Brilliant stuff. But this type of structure isn’t limiting. Rather, it’s freeing for him. By having universal structures in place, it offers an anchor of sorts from which to move out into the world to be spontaneous and to explore.  The array of maps as the background of the piece depict this moving out with the map pins stuck into 10 of the many cities of the world he plans to explore.

In the center of the piece a set of mala prayer beads are draped over two fingers of his guiding hand. This link of 108 beads was gifted to me (as well as another to Calvin) by a local yogi upon his return from a trek to India. The creation of a mala is impressive, with several yogis each saying their mantra on each bead 108 times. The number 108 is equally impressive and worth looking up. It fits right in with Calvin’s love of universal structures.

These beads offer the intention of balance and anchoring to universal truths as his quick self moves through and with the world. In essence, the need to stay grounded in the midst of soaring. Given that most of his pictures have him leaping through the air one might think that my sentiments on staying ‘grounded’ might mean he should ‘get down from there and stop scaring me’. But not so. I gave up on that one long ago, marveling at his antics at times and gasping and closing my eyes at others.

Rather grounded for me means connected – to his passions, his inner guide, and his joy. As I have moved from being THE integral force in his life to one of many resources with which he has surrounded himself, I find myself wishing him well on this joyful exploration and truly delighting with him in what comes next.

The original consists of a Tyvek papercut hand mounted on an 18×24″ sheet of plywood with found objects, paper, and silkscreened photo images. 


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Regina Leffers McCaleb, Ph.D.

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