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Time is territory

A friend said to me, “Time is Territory.”

I immediately said, “I want to use this in a column. Who said it?”

She wasn’t sure. Whoever said it, thank you!

I sat down to write about this and then wondered what would I write? I knew it was a powerful statement and it resonated in my spirit.

Everyone is so busy, just ask them. There isn’t enough time. They are going here and there, it makes one tired to keep up. I hear artists and writers all the time say they can’t find time to do their art. Their excuses are many:

Other people do not consider that artists have a real job so keep them for hours on the phone.

They are stripped of their productive time because people expect them to do things.

Another excuse is that no one considers they have a real job.

They can’t get motivated so they watch television.

A lot of wawa’s.

The sad thing for me is that they allow their time to get away and lose the opportunity to take territory that belongs to them.

So as I pondered this statement, “Time is Territory” I remembered someone I have enjoyed reading; his name is William Blake, one of the greatest artists, poets and engravers who ever lived. Blake said when his energies were diverted from his drawing or writing that he was being devoured by jackals and hyenas.

Blake wrote about living in the now. That seems simple enough to do but try it some time. When someone looks at a sunset and ponders the colors, the sweep of the clouds and the sun going down, he is living in the now. Another looks at a sunset and says that’s nice but I’m too busy, he has not captured territory that comes with the moment.

Territory can be all sorts of things for all sorts of people. It can be money, position, praise or even a good name. Territory for artists and writers are things they create that bring others in contact with beauty with change, with difference and most important truth.

An old proverb says, “Truth uttered will live into eternity.” William Blake in 1827 was buried in an unmarked grave in the Non-Conformist Burnhill Fields in London. His wife, Catherine, borrowed money to bury him. Apparently he didn’t gain any territory on earth, even where he lay he didn’t own. His words did not gain acclaim or commercial success for years after his death and he was labeled an eccentric or worse, he was thought to be insane and demented.

Blake was a man who believed that he saw angels and talked to God. He is quoted by saying, “I should be sorry if I had any earthly fame, for whatever natural glory a man has is so much detracted from his spiritual glory. I wish to do nothing for profit I wish to live for art. I want nothing whatever. I am quite happy.”

I laugh when I think of his wife, Mrs. Blake. How happy was she living on art alone? For me as an artist and writer, if a word I write or a stroke of paint on a canvas turns my time into territory that lives beyond myself, as Blake said, “I am quite happy.”

Blake’s words and paintings still live in hearts because he took time to write them down over two hundred years ago and because they are truth. His words have taken residence in hearts, making a difference thereby claiming territory.

Final brushstroke: My children remind me all the time that I go too deep; they tell me, “Keep it simple.” I think, it’s pretty simple, you embrace the moment then you gain the purpose of it. That is turning time into territory.

Reader’s comments

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Regarding your article, “Artists are Made to Fly.” I too have been in a cage, it was many years ago.  I kept painting when ever I had the chance. 

But the caged bird can sing.  It was for a season   Now, I’m free.


Fernley, Nev.


Your column on “Untamed Passion” was a great story — touched on so many levels and facets of the human experience. 

I thought it was interesting that Willa Cather made her heroine a woman — this was written at the turn of the century, so she was way ahead of her time!  And what a great role model for all women reading the novel or watching the movie..

Willa Cather graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1895. This is not the norm for that time in our history.  A great “women’s” movie.

J. Koenig

Pagosa Springs

Artist’s quote

“Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.” Camille Pissarro