Compartmentalized Enlightenment

crack

I’ll tell you a story:

Once upon a time I attended a workshop to learn calligraphy. Part of the experience included sitting alone at a desk with paper placed and brush dipped in ink, poised to begin.

I waited silently for the instructor to enter and stand behind me, unseen.

He gently reached over my shoulder and took the back of my hand with a feathers’ touch.

He guided my hand and arm to make the calligraphic symbol.

As this seemingly simple teaching unfolded, a flood of energy washed through me unlike any I had ever experienced. It felt utterly perfect and full and inclusive and translucent and I was left moved far away from any worry or complaint about anything.

It lasted perhaps 1 minute.

I was changed after this experience.

And I wanted more of it.

In spiritual terms it is called transmission when something of the teaching is transmitted to the student through the teacher.

I thought that it had everything to do with my teacher and so I set out to see if I could stay in contact with him after he left New Mexico and perhaps learn how to have more of ‘that thing’ I had bumped up against.

We exchanged emails over a period of 6 months or so.

He invited me to his home in California.

Here was a scholarly, traditional and revered teacher inviting me- the lowly student- to his HOME!

I was so honored and thought I would be foolish to decline.

And so I went.

He was there to pick me up at the airport in his long beard and traditional Japanese robes.

We drove to his home where I was to stay for a week assisting him in the studio and taking in what I could through osmosis.

I had visions of Koi ponds and tatami mats and spare living spaces punctuated with ikebana floral arrangements.

What I got was a lumpy futon with dirty and torn sheets tossed unfolded on the bed, a wife with her claws at half mast and a moldy and damp, half-lit basement studio.

I had brought my most beautiful ceramic piece as a gift and I think of it now standing tall in the dining room of a household rife with dishonesty and tension and a drama in which I ended up making myself sick in order to take my leave.

What did I get out of this insane experience?

Am I sorry it happened? Certainly not.

Today, it always gets a good laugh the few times I’ve had enough courage to tell it.

What it taught me is this:

We all have places in us which are seemingly tied up with pretty bows; places which seem to inspire others, lift people up from one level to the next and leave them better and more, places where we think WE KNOW.

Those we label teacher and guru and president and priest

Seem to have more of something we feel we lack and so we hold them in high regard, revere them and want what they have.

The danger is in moving in too close; close enough to have left our powers of discrimination with our shoes at the door.

My nervous system stood up and cheered at the whiff of ‘special student’ cologne this guy sprayed my way.

There ARE parts of him I’d call enlightened,

Just not all of him.

I got this lesson loud and clear and lived to tell the tale.

It has helped me be gentler with my own and others deep humanity.

Mostly, it has helped me know that I know nothing at all and if I think I’m RIGHT about much of anything I’d better eat my humble pie and be glad for the meal.

It is a precious journey, this human one.

My guiding mantra today is “PULL BACK A BIT AND BE CURIOUS”

The Swerve of the World

spring
“PUSH” ceramic, wood, steel
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My primary meditation in life has been looking inward; toward the shadow when I didn’t want to and doing what it takes to lift the fog toward clarity and clean air to breathe.

What keeps me sane is the knowledge I have ALWAYS reached for what I recognize as the light. Even with a battered will and the ineffectiveness of innocence at times..still I have reached.

I imagine many people look at my life and see one of grit and hard falls and the opposite of comfort, perhaps.

I myself, have surely wondered where in the hell is the ease, for cryin’ out loud? Why this particular path and set of circumstances?

If I let myself hang out in: “I wonder what people think?” too long I invariably end up doubting myself on many levels.

My so called ‘intensity’ is intolerable for some.

I want to apologize for it to smooth the way of relationship.

But when I do that I feel muddy and wrong…

If it were not tempered by lightness of being and laughter I’d be worried and might urge you to click over to another website altogether.

In the last number of years I have heard people/ friends/ respected ones call me wise or inspiring or courageous at times.

I know those emerging parts of me, too.

I know they are part and not all.

I recognize them as earned qualities. I earned them; they were not a ‘given’ in my life.

These qualities though fleeting, are present in me because I have done what it has taken / what it takes to reclaim an innocence and real relationship with something much, much larger than me.

I consider this my highest accomplishment.

Inquiry has made me a more loving human being.

It has taken a life of curiosity, introspection and quiet.

I have received lots of help.

I was broken.

And now I’m not.

And I bow to my own intense quest for wholeness.

Dry Heart

cliffnotes
detail of sculpture, shells, ceramic, earth
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I chose this accompanying image as it feels complicated and dry.

Like me today.

I woke with heavy tears behind my eyes and vestiges of a bad dream involving the well-being of my dog.

I found it necessary to handle the question marks concerning what would happen to her should something happen to me.

She is my family.

I also have been lax in checking in daily with my designated friend who agreed to check in on me if she does not get an email in the morning.

Meeting the daily challenges of a life in partnership with chronic illness withOUT a partner are daunting at best.

No one would ever know unless they chanced to live it.

A friend brought me dinner as I was out of food.

We sat and I told her of my worries.

We solved both concerns by her agreeing to the two tasks at hand; she will take Livvy if something happens to me and I will check in with her each morning trusting that if she doesn’t hear from me by noon to investigate.

I cried again after she left but the old dryness was gone; instead, my heart was ripe and ready to meet life with curiosity and eagerness once again.

I felt clean.

My face looked very beautiful in the mirror.

It is that sharing thing…. transparency with those one feels can witness and likely respond without projection and therefore judgement.

A rarity and sacred ground to me.

My friends are my extended family web and I feel their silken threads almost invisibly attached but when truly needed, their tensile strength pulls me up and I am lifted.

“There is no normal”

staycurious

A wise woman left this small pool of words in the comment section of my last post.

It made me sit up straighter and piqued my interest

As Truths (with a capitol ‘T’) tend to do.

There it stands alone: “THERE IS NO NORMAL”.

Never really has been, after all.. just stuff we find solace in thinking they will continue unaffected and recognizable for the foreseeable future

And beyond.

I am grateful that as an artist part of me abhors anything resembling normal because that has signaled that it has been done/said/believed/thought before and therefor has some if not most of the life wrung out of it.

Normal means major comfort too..

Normal quality of air, normal sun rising and setting at the expected times, normal dog brushing and licking time with my tea in the morning.

Speaking of quality of air- my brother and his family are very close to having to evacuate to a safe distance from the encroaching wildfire in Colorado near Colorado Springs.

Is there ANYthing normal about this chain of events and the emotions that go with them?

No.

We are, each and every one of us tasked with living in the unknown more and more these days.

There are few count-on-able normalities.

When I find one I feel like kissing the ground.

For me- lately these moments (for they are that) are centered around the stellar friends and family I have around me.

I think we might be wise to strike the word ‘normal’ from the dictionary.

‘FLUX’ seems more apropos.

Get in the river and do what it takes to find your footing.

For me, I try to keep it interesting as I remind myself to be gentle..with my own precious soul and others.

The road is gritty and miraculous and curiously winding but seldom straight.

THE GREAT MYSTERY keeps appearing around these bends in that road.

If I let it.

The Art of Disappointment

boys
hand painted silk robes, 1986
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When I moved into my current apartment an ecstasy welled up in me because it was bright and clean and mine.

Living here for a few weeks has weaned me away from that initial rush and left me hollow.

I am living essentially in a parking lot..other apartments face mine a scant 30′ away on one side but mine borders the parking lot on two sides just 6′ away from my bedroom window..

I wheel 8 blocks over and through vast concrete swaths of other apartment complex real estate to finally arrive at a tiny patch of green for my dog to relieve herself and me to pause and breathe in the air of life.

Santa Fe is a tri-cultural (Anglo,Hispanic, Native American) city and I am feeling the bubble of ‘anglo-privilege’ I took little notice of when I was a fully functioning part of this community.

I could afford to keep my ‘tribe’ close in and choose to where I was to live.

Since I do not have the luxury of working, my surroundings are crucial to my health and well-being.

The reality remains I am in need of the governmental assistance I receive and am grateful for.

My apartment complex is populated with many, many young Hispanic mothers raising large families of small children alone.

They are tired, angry and spent. Rightly so.

I am a foreigner in their eyes and they are to me as well.

I thought I was noticing racist tendencies in myself as I began curling my energies in toward myself for protection against their steeliness and indifference.

It isn’t racisism after all as I discovered; just a desire for a quality of life with more possibility of connection, feeling of safety should I need their help and the absence of armoring-up.

And so.. as providence would have it- the complex I have always wanted to live in has called and there is a spot for me there at the end of the month. I have been on their wait list 2 years.

I will move once again end of this month.

How will I ever manage to rally once again is anyones’ guess but I am choosing quality-of-life as we never know how much of that precious stuff we will be granted after all is said and done.

I call on my adventurous angels to assist me emotionally, physically and spiritually.

I am still on the road to ‘home.’

Creativity n’ Me

girl1
“GIRL” 1999, ceramic,steel, 28″h
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The act of publicizing my penchant for parking lots as I did in my last post generated enough private and concerned response that I thought I’d address it a tad further.

The state of creativity has been my safe place in life.

Always.

That means that no matter what else was/is going on around me I trust my ability to drop into the ‘well’ (I call it).

The qualities of a well are these: distance to the water, the journey to get there, darkness, mystery, fear, curiosity, nourishment, surrender to the unknown, possible treasure or death.

Both life and death are held there.

Artists worth their salt step forward even with the big question marks.

My having chosen a life with creativity at it’s core has meant finding ways to ‘clear the decks’ so-to-speak,

Before I set sail.

My parking lot visitations stemmed from the need for peeling away all costuming and revealing my tender underbelly on a regular basis.

This in service to creating art far from the ‘so what?’ variety.

Somehow-the anonymity of the practice of parking-lot-sitting has allowed me to get familiar with my natural self in way that weren’t happening at home or in my studio.

Studio time was for making the things I was inspired to do as I sat invisibly in cafes.

Sometimes, the avenues we choose to shield ourselves become destructive and soul-diminishing (alcohol,sex,food)..

My way seems weird even to me but I really don’t care..It serves me, hurts no one and I am better for it..

In moderation, of course.

If you see me there please leave me there as my startle reflex is frighteningly low…..