Roderick MacIver is the editor and illustrator of the recently re-released The Heron Dance Book of Love and Gratitude, Meditations on Nature, Meditations on Silence, Thoreau and the Art of Life, as well as numerous other books. MacIver is a Canadian-born watercolor artist whose artwork has been acquired by public and private collectors, and he has donated thousands of his images to grassroots wilderness protection groups and these organizations, along with other nonprofits, have used his art in their newsletters, on their websites, and in their outreach efforts. In 1995 he founded Heron Dance (herondance.org), a nonprofit organization that celebrates the human connection to nature through art and words. His own words and watercolors are inspired by a love of wild places and the peace and rhythm he finds there. MacIver, who currently resides in Vermont, is a person of curious mind, of major strengths and major weaknesses, of contradictions and integrity. He has fought forest fires in northern Canada with Dogrib Indians, worked as a Wall Street investment analyst, lived with cancer, and engaged in a serious spiritual search.
In the interview that follows, MacIver tells readers of his influences, inspirations, and upcoming projects.
_ _ _ _
What made you decide to create The Heron Dance Book of Love and Gratitude?
I wanted a reference to turn to that would remind me of how beautiful life is and how fascinating the world around us can be if we make time for it, pay attention to it.
Is there a book that changed your life? What books have made a major impact in your life and writing?
Iâ€™ve read thousands of books. There is no one single â€śgreatest influenceâ€ť although books written by and about Joseph Campbell figure prominently. My favorite is A Joseph Campbell Companion. Thoreauâ€™s Walden Pond has influenced my life and work. Peter Druckerâ€™s memoir Adventures of a Bystander and an essay by Thomas Merton, “The Rain and the Rhinoceros,” have been important to my writing. Finally, a book by J.A. Baker, The Peregrine, has probably influenced my writing as much as any other.
When did you think about becoming a writer? Was there someone who got you interested in writing?
I had my first article published when I was in my early twenties. Primarily Iâ€™ve written on subjects related to creativity, the human search for meaning and on the human connection to the natural world.
What is the one thing that you want readers to take away from The Heron Dance Book of Love and Gratitude?
Living with gratitude is an art. Focusing on the beauty around us does not generally come automatically. It involves a conscious effort.
How do you write? Do you have a daily routine? What’s good about it? What do you hate about it?
Writing for me is a natural outcome of the process of reading, thinking about what Iâ€™ve read and comparing what Iâ€™ve read to my life experience.
What are you working on next?
A study of creativity based on stories by and about artists, musicians (primarily rock and jazz), poets and novelists.
What have you learned about human nature that isn’t common knowledge?
How little I know. How complex we humans are. How we tend to sabotage ourselvesâ€”we each have to a greater or less extent a self-destructive tendency. How we erect prisons around ourselves that limit our experience of life. How rare truly competent people are, and how great the untapped potential of the human mind is, and, again, how we limit that potential through the limits we impose on ourselves and our lives.
What single thing might people be surprised to learn about you?
How much I daydream. How introverted and self-protective I am. That, combined with my drive and desire to live a really full life causes me to do things that surprise at least me all the time.
What book is on your nightstand now?
Matisse And Picasso: The Story Of Their Rivalry And Friendship and The Rock and Roll Book of The Dead.