Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Shoe Box That Gave My Art Wings

I am trying to explain my writers block to my friend Joe. He tells me, "Remember, the basic format is always "obstacle is an opportunity." The easy irony. Definitely either go with that or go with a double-irony, "this obstacle wasn't an opportunity, we thought it would be, but here's what went down." This kind of premeditation in writing fills me with the same performance anxiety I had after I begun to studying Art Therapy as an undergrad. After all that talking about method, something occurred to me that wasn't too political or too personal. 

"Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who
supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of
fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the
ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth."

- Mary Schmich (1997.)

A friend came by today with a huge boot-sized shoebox of supplies for a Zine. She's not the first friend of mine to suggest it and in fact, I used to collect them in high school and college but I had never been a part of the process. I was a bit nervous. Art is very personal and sacred. Not something you share with just anyone. (She says as she types a blog on the interwebs.)

An hour in, the Yorkshire Gold had been consumed and our artistic courtship is over. We are up to our elbows in her stories and poems, the layout, the other stories. I kept wondering, "how will it fold?" as I ran back to my room to dig through the box with some gems, "Here's a creepy collage I made and look, now I know why I printed out all those old blogs from 2010." The Sun and Utne Magazine are excellent collage fodder for leftist arty types, in case you were wondering.

It's funny because just last week at work we were all joking about how the old school program of working on marketing was done with actual cutting with scissors and pasting, with glue. Here we were at the table, scissors and glue in hand.

Then like Mary Poppins, she poured the contents of the table into her shoebox and was off, promising to be nice to my original art. 
It will be fun to see what she drums up. It will be fun to see it all in print. All those different flavors of art mixed into a concise, arty, literary sandwich. Surely my contributions are better off there than slowly decaying in the sad little box in my closet.

The history of the pieces I sent home with my friend are varied. Some are relics of a depression so dark, I never expected to find my way out of it. Some are stories of parenthood about potty training victories and making sure at a windy beach that my son chews his sand covered banana softly so as to not hurt his teeth.

So instead of letting my artistic creations rot in a dark closet, they have new wings with my friend and her Zine. Keep your eyes peeled for them at a coffeehouse near you. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Hastily Shucked Humility

In the stew of my life this week, (instead of lamb) I was offered beautifully grown patience chops to prepare and enjoy but I cooked them too fast and high on a restless heat. 

The hastily shucked humility added just barely in the nick of time was covered finally in a timid sauce of vulnerability and honesty yielded what can only be called a bitter meal.

A friend of mine reminds me that pain is the touchstone of all spiritual growth. When I talk to you about it, I can see that you're growing despite any awkward tears or feelings of frustration. However when dealing in my own life, I recoil from pain as if from a hot flame. My knee-jerk response is to flee the situation and hide. Hence the bitter meal.

I am lucky that there are people in my life who challenge me to remain where I am (even if it is in pain or fear) and simply be honest about it. Sounds good, right? Sure, it's a real hoot.

Specifics are not important. I have been talking about The Alchemist a lot lately. If you haven't read it, check it out. It is a thin volume that is a teaching story about committing oneself to ones own Personal Legend. Sometimes the journey we are on seems bleak, even when it looks easy from the outside.

This business of remaining true to our Personal Legend is no small feat. It isn't something you even really decide it is simply where your feet have been headed since you were born. Maybe that sounds too out there, maybe not. For me it is a constant struggle to let go and let what is happening simply transpire without trying to fix it as I think it should be.

This of course is on a personal level. On a political level, I am not quite there yet. I am not sure I want to be. I am open to growth, though. I am open to the prospect of learning how to practice patience and humility and vulnerability and honesty.

It was a week of stumbling haphazardly and gracelessly and then dusting off my skinned knees and continuing to do the rest of what needed to be done. It turns out that the more I remain functioning from a place of love, the better use I am to everyone around me. I know, not exactly news but still true. The more I focus on what I can do for other people, the less self centered I am and the less self centered I am, the better for me and those I interact with.

"Believe more deeply.
Hold your face up to the light, even though for the moment you do not see."