Mark Nepo says "It doesn't matter what splinter the Universe gives us to stop us in our tracks". Oh really? Couldn't MY splinter be something meaningful and elegant in a universal metaphor of brilliance kind of way? Nope. I can handle the really big stuff. But those little splinters....ooooh they get under my skin (and cause bad puns). Nepo says "...it's no one's place to judge or say that what unhinges us doesn't make sense or that our heartbreak is too much..." The only thing that matters is that we trip into...what matters. Or, in my case, fall headfirst while having a tantrum. "The truth is that we are here precisely to fall off the deep end..." (Nepo again).
Ok, here is where that pesky Universe gets tricky with helping me learn something when I'd rather blow a gasket. "Our work...is to investigate what these sharp incidents are opening in us." (Nepo) Well other than wishing it had opened up a can of whoop-ass specially designed for government bureaucracy, it did help me realize some things about how helpless I felt in certain aspects of my life. And how that helplessness was really messing with my inner peace. Nepo calls this getting under it instead of getting over it. Which is apparently exactly what we humans are supposed to do.
And once more, my very, very dear reader, you've spent a few moments reading my musings and looking at a piece of art. I hope you get under whatever is harshing your mojo today. If not, I've got some unused whoop-ass you can borrow. :)
Though she is wearing away, she appears solid. I wondered what that meant. And then, well, not Nepo, but someone Nepo quoted (see how tangled this web is?):
With each passing (and passage), there is a further wearing away of the layers or coverings that obscure our essential selves. And so, as we say "goodbye" again and again, we feel thinner, narrower, more naked, more transparent, more vulnerable in a palpable, holy way" - ELESA COMMERSE (as quoted in Mark Nepo's Things That Join the Sea and Sky)
Just like that, I can see glimpses of her essential self revealed under the waters of the loch. Not quite unlocked, but less obscured. And so are we, dear reader, with passing and passage, more vulnerable in holy ways.
With a focus on the face, and with adding some depth and interest to the background, my own mixed media version became a little more ferocious. Are those cage bars behind him? Has he escaped?
And once more the chant of RESIST RESIST RESIST in my head when I felt the urge to smooth, soften, accentuate.
"To be alive is the biggest fear humans have. Death is not the biggest fear we have: our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive ---the risk to be alive and express what we really are. Just being ourselves is the biggest fear of humans." DON MIGUEL RUIZ
Once you reach a certain, ahem, age (shhhhhhhhh - no need for numbers!) thoughts of mortality are more prevalent. Along with the preparing of wills and other documents which we'd much rather postpone until they are really necessary, by which time it will be too late. While watching my thoughts (don't you do that? It's like stalking your own mind...) I recently noticed way too many were about being old, passing away, fleeting time. So I wondered if I might be having a little anxiety or fear about death. Until I read the quote above in Ruiz' The Four Agreements and had a little epiphany. AHA! I am not afraid of dying. I am afraid of being REALLY alive and being EXACTLY who I am. Wow. Now there is a little something to sit in awe about.
I mean, really. How many of us are out there living a bold, fearless, carpe diem kind of life? How many of us spend an inordinate amount of time worried about what others think about how we [insert word here: dress, act, believe, eat, look, drink, decorate, write, drive, walk, think] and less than no time at all about what we'd really, REALLY like?
Maybe, my dear, cherished reader, you already seize the day in a brazen, Pippi Longstocking kind of way. If so, would you comment below with some much needed HOW TO for the rest of us? Though my intern is back at university now, Wonder Mike has volunteered to step in and send a little something sweet to the commenter whose comment is most commendable. Ready? Go!.
And I've been thinking about stubbornness quite a bit this week, as Wonder Mike becomes more comfortable in his new shangrala and begins to display his tiny but mighty personality. Which includes an abhorrence of walks. Twice a day, he and I each dig our heels in on opposite ends of the leash and take 45 minutes to go half a mile. He likes to sit and look around. I like to walk fast. I realized after a week of this that he probably doesn't know how wonderful walks really are (who knows if he was ever even on a leash before) and so I've begun wearing away his reluctance with pockets full of treats, the most interesting destinations and a willingness to stop and greet every single passerby and yes, even sit beside him on the sidewalk now and again. Just this morning, he sat by the garage door where his leash hangs, waiting to go. I wonder if he knows deep renewal and a doggy pedicure are coming his way?
This daily looking at Tamayo (and by looking, I also mean sketching and exploring with paint) really reduces, narrows, hones - my eyes begin to see the simplest of shapes in a compositional setting. For those of you with a formal art education, perhaps this realization seems rudimentary. For me it is a revelation.
Nepo, in The One Life We're Given, mentions the practice of tracking whale sightings in ship logs from the 1800's. "And all processes of art are essentially ship logs, in which we track the appearance of what matters, and it surprises us with its majestic breach in to the ordinary moments of our day." These studies are my ship logs. A little aha, a majestic breach. I will keep looking.
I've spent a lot of my life trying to finish lists. Crossing things off gives me satisfaction. It gives me the illusion I am ever closer to the time when I can relax and really enjoy life. As if it must be done in that order. Yet these lists (and worries I touch with my thoughts each day) are the very thieves which must be quieted. The things which prevent flow.
One very good way to quiet thieves is to spend a few minutes immersed in the wisdom of someone else's words. Here's a link to a TED Talk by David Whyte (provided by the same thief-quieting spirit lady who gifted me a copy of the new book by Mark Nepo) which is sure to help push your lists to the side for a few minutes today. https://www.ted.com/talks/david_whyte_a_lyrical_bridge_between_past_present_and_future.