Questions

detail of “MATCHES”- wooden matches,earth

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The Proust Questionnaire has its origins in a parlor game popularized (though not devised) by Marcel Proust, the French essayist and novelist, who believed that, in answering these questions, an individual reveals his or her true nature. Here is the basic Proust Questionnaire.  This list of questions appears on the last page of Vanity Fair magazine.  Most people they interview answer with sarcasm because sometimes it is hard to know and actually say the Truth as we know it.   Very informative to do this, I found…try it?

__1.__What is your idea of perfect happiness?

The moments I have disengaged from the density and suffering of body-centric awareness into a sense of oneness.. with Emma warm on my lap.

__2.__What is your greatest fear?

Being a burden to those I love.

__3.__What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Laziness in using my God given gifts.

__4.__What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Disrespect for those in service industries.

__5.__Which living person do you most admire?

My sister, Jennifer at the moment.

__6.__What is your greatest extravagance?

Coffee

__7.__What is your current state of mind?

Humbled and curious with a bit of fear

__8.__What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

False modesty

__9.__On what occasion do you lie?

Most often when I say I’m fine and I’m not.

__10.__What do you most dislike about your appearance?

I like how I look these days except my neck has become wobbly.

__11.__Which living person do you most despise?

DT but I try to remember all of this ugliness is for a purpose.

__12.__What is the quality you most like in a man?

The sense he owns the piece of ground he walks on

__13.__What is the quality you most like in a woman?

Irreverence combined with a healthy, self-examined and solid sense of Self.

__14.__Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

“Isn’t it interesting that….?”

__15.__What or who is the greatest love of your life?

Emma and Livvy.  Dogs.

__16.__When and where were you happiest?

Curiously..I would have to say now.

__17.__Which talent would you most like to have?

Comfort trying to speak other languages.

__18.__If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I’d like to walk.  To have a carefree sense again of my physical existence would be good.

__19.__What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Negotiating the landscape of chronic illness with some Grace and resilience.  

__20.__If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

Competitive ballroom dancer.

__21.__Where would you most like to live?

Thankfully, I live in the most perfect place for me.  Santa Fe is one of my greatest blessings.

__22.__What is your most treasured possession?

Emma is not a possession yet I value her company and what she teaches me highly.

__23.__What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Forgetting that everything changes.  Losing my thread to God.

__24.__What is your favorite occupation?

Watching my awareness.

__25.__What is your most marked characteristic?

I really like to smile and connect with people.

__26.__What do you most value in your friends?

The gift they give me of space when I need it.  They seem to do this without judging me.  Even if they do they refrain from telling me.

__27.__Who are your favorite writers?

Mary Oliver, Joseph Campbell, Mary Farr, Anne Lamott

__29.__Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Buddha

__30.__Who are your heroes in real life?

Maya Angelou, all of us who fall down and keep getting up, dusting off and re-applying lipstick.

__31.__What are your favorite names?

I have always disliked my name as it says nothing about me.  I pay attention to people who have a seamless match between the sound and meaning of their name.

__32.__What is it that you most dislike?

Narcissism 

__33.__What is your greatest regret?

I really have just one regret.  I worked with a young woman years ago at a group home for teens recovering from abusive situations.  We connected so deeply and after the months of teaching were over I did not stay connected to her.

__34.__How would you like to die?

With consciousness enough not to miss it.

 

 

For A Father

 

 

A lovely couple from Dallas approached me in the plaza to ask about my hat.

They both wanted the exact same shape I wore and I guided them to the location of the shop as I continued mesmerized by the flashing pigeons at my feet.

I received a call later in the week from my friend at the hat shop wanting to get a photo of my chapeau and correct measurements.

In the midst of our ensuing conversation surrounded by the best of the West in the way of both custom and ready-made fine felt and straw headwear at O”FARRELL HAT COMPANY (my handsome friend Scott measuring for a custom hat with the weirdest piece of equipment ever!)

Three strapping young men walked into the shop.  They took up space in a big way.

The tallest one went directly for a work-of-art hat displayed prominently by itself on a stand at the desk.

It was embellished with very detailed scenes of western life over 1/2 the surface area in a breathtakingly intricate way.

In his broken English the young man asked the price as he grabbed it by the crown and Scott gently showed him how hats should be picked up by the brim.

The guy puts this great hat/crown on.

He stands taller and poses for his silent friends to shoot a photo.

I saw pride, adventure, courage and maybe a little bit of fierce resolve.

But I could have made that up.

“We are from Ukraine” he says.

Coming to the end of his English he slowly took off the hat and placed it with care back on it’s stand.

He reached in to his jackets inner pocket and pulled out something which he handed to Scott.

Like a wave of heat the three men were there …and then quickly gone.

Scott showed me what he had been mysteriously given.  It was a brass medal which had the patina of age bearing a curious insignia.

We both felt something of significance had happened.

I asked if I could research the medal.

It is, in fact from the 1950s and used to be attached to the beret of a Ukrainian Special Forces paratrooper.  The Ukrainian trident national emblem is displayed on the disk.

Why did this strapping young man in the company of his friends give this object to Scott and just disappear?

Since The Ukraine has been such a hotbed of conflict for so long I had the thought that the medal originated with this man’s father as it dated from the 50’s.  

If I were to pick a representative for what visitors unfamiliar with the United States might think FREEDOM looked like it might be Scott; dressed in his cowboy vest, fine  hat, mysterious , quiet renegade attitude and all else marking him “epitome of Western guy”.

What if the Ukrainian man’s father dreamed of freedom?  Visiting us here where we enjoy freedoms unknown to most?

My mind weaved a story that the three guys had finished their stint in the army and came here, to the States…to the West.

The young man gave the best representative of freedom; Scott, his father’s medal as a way to honor his Dad; making sure he did indeed get a chance to visit the U.S. and feel the salve of being free. He chose Scott as the final landing place of this treasure.

This is my imagined story and I am a romantic.

Whatever transpired it felt mysterious and was clearly an important mark in time for  the young man/men from Ukraine.

And me.

On Spirituality and David Lynch

 

 

“LAYERS”, 5’x5′ painting on wool flannel

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I’ve been talking a lot about God it seems.

A good friend asked me recently to describe what spirituality is for me.

You know you REALLY know something if a simple explanation  just rolls off your tongue and the other person’s eyes go wide and they say: “OH YEAH!!!! OF COURSE! How could I have not known this?  So simple.”

Not.

Well… I talked for maybe 10 minutes and stopped as my friend began to twist his eyes in a knot and almost break his forehead with wrinkling up in confusion.

I could not describe my experience well enough to transmit the essence to him.

How could I explain?

Mentioning PEMA CHODRON and JOSEPH CAMPBELL are choices I made in the beginning.

Their experience of living in the Sacred seems similar to mine.

Still, he asked me:  “I want to know what YOUR experience is, Cathy.”

Frustrated, I kept ruminating on the subject and came across this tiny bit of a film (4 minutes) called MEDITATION in which the film director DAVID LYNCH speaks very briefly on the subject at hand..  click here.  This snippet is from the full length film MEDITATION streaming on NETFLIX.

You can tell he knows of which he speaks as it takes zero energy to access his words and grok the thing.

I thought since God was making more of an appearance here of late you all should have a clue what that is for me.

A Dog Named Lavender

untitled, 36×24, m/m

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Cruising yesterday I came upon a marginally sane seeming older gentleman

In deep conversation with Lavender, his soft brown companion.

Hearing this dog’s name slide from the character on the other end of the leash made my day.

Lavender is a boy first of all…

In my own disability isolation I have caught myself being that weird person I remember scoffing at

Not too long ago;  intent in out loud communion with a furry non-human.

More and more I could care less if people hear my renditions of “OLD MCDONALD HAD A FARM..

..AND ON THIS FARM HE HAD A DOG-GONE SPECTACULAR DOG NAMED EMMA…EE YIGH EE YIGH OH….”

I am unsure of when the tipping point happened for me to enter the world of white -dog -middle -aged -woman -land

But I never want to go back.

I watched the wierdish guy and his friend Lavender

And I was quite sure no party or book or music or human could hold a candle to the heart-plumping privilege

Of a dog constantly reminding him of the simple, pure, innocent, intelligent, silly, soft, loyal parts of his own human self which get so covered up in muck.

I just love how much of my life these days literally IS church…

Nowhere to go.

Just the act of paying attention gets me there.

Really, there is beauty, I find in everything…with very little work I might add.

If we had no duality, which I confess I am currently squirming under the weight of..

I’d never get the full-on pleasure from my encounter with Lavender.

It was worth the suffering it takes to disengage and detox  my soul from humanity in the throes of seismic shifting.

Fortifying Faith

“BLUE”  painting on wool flannel, 50″x30″

 

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I haven’t had much to say for awhile and I just let that be rather than trying to push it.

My physical self has been particularly challenged of late which affects my ability to be fully present with anyone or anything.

Letting my consciousness soak in abject body centricity is bordering on hell for me.

This morning as Emma and I rolled downtown I prayed: “God..I miss you.  I haven’t felt you for awhile.  Are you still there?  Can you show me a little something to help me remember I am not alone?  I feel so dry and brittle.”

Just reaching in this way lifts some of the body-centric density and a lightness comes.

I sing to Emma in gratitude.

I practice smiling a bit to see if just that little direction can pull the rest of me forward to meet it.

At the counter to order coffee I meet a lovely young woman..Rita.  Emma loves her without reserve; licking her hand and wagging furiously though we had never met before today.

I tell her she was profusely gifted by Emma’s rare overt love display.

Rita is from Nepal we learn.  I feel her pure and innocent yet courageous heart.

We say goodbye and I settle in to read National Geographic.

My coffee arrives and I am told that Rita has paid for me as a gift before she left.

I drop my head as my heart wells with tears in gratitude for God showing up in the guise of the pure loveliness of a dark haired girl from Nepal.

Porous Armor

 

BLUE SQUARE, 22×22,oil

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Recently I watched a very well done documentary on ALS.

I responded to it because it was raw and honest which I find rare in the disability community.

In hindsight, I became mesmerized watching a fellow human tackle immense challenges with grace and courage.

He reminded me of me.

The fallout from viewing the story of one mans’ physical self disintegrating within the hour and a half of film time

Left me not fully my best self; depressed (just recognizing this today), anxious, a tad mean, unable to access coherent and communicable ideas.

Years ago at the onset of my health challenges I checked out support groups but ended up feeling much worse when I left.

This was in part because no one seemed interested in talking about much other than shared symptoms.

The visual impact of people much worse off than I was affected me in very negative ways as well.

Now I had various images of who I could become.

Understandably, this is a reason why some people turn away instinctively from the mentally or physically disabled community members; once we see we can’t unsee and the possibility of THAT being US one day is too much.

I am not proud of my sensitivities being acute enough that I became far away from who I recognize as my core self after watching that movie.

Doing so allowed into my psyche a storyline I had never entertained in such technicolor.

My experience is that who and what we think we are we become.  As I can not stop remembering the horrors of what the man with ALS had to deal with and wondering if that will be me the fear takes on substance and I just water it with more attention.

A good example of this is how each of us digests the current political climate.

In the beginning I tried to be ever informed; constantly reading and listening.

These days I remain open to severely edited news summary and forgo as much drama and visuals as possible.

I realized my vocabulary and feelings were tuned more to separateness as opposed to unity and this is an unwanted overlay .

So how to beef up ones’ energetic armor without hardening ones’ self?

Another lesson in the fact that CHOICE or WHAT WE PUT OUR ATTENTION ON is our greatest ally.

For me, the understanding I must keep my porous armor shiny and respect it by remaining vigilant to who and what enlivens me.

 

Kind Regard

“BLUE ” 11 x 11″ m/m

 

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Early morning cruising my beloved Santa Fe streets

On my way downtown

I often pass a store owner

Enjoying a smoke on his front stoop.

For a long time we just beamed at one another;

A sparky recognition of something a tad elevated

From just a normal human recognition.

I think he is Iranian.

He has big teeth and always shows them to me.

Yesterday the early springtime warmth allowed a more intimate greeting:

“Madame..I wish you good day.  You nice lady. I being good boy..no troubles here..all very good.  I wish you good day.  I good.”

My heart deflated at the realization he felt the need to assuage any fears I may have harbored due to his nationality.

With my good hand I reached out to touch his arm and matched his toothy greeting as best I could.

God was very near.