Small Things That Aren’t

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“SHELLS”, 1995, ceramic
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I am a stubborn woman.

If you live alone for long enough one tends to think that we know best and nobody better tell us differently.

A friend sent me these few words in an email recently: “Don’t make anything today except happiness”.

Sounds innocuous enough..

But for some reason I let him boss me around just for that day.

(interesting to notice who I let close enough to do that..)

As an artist, I make stuff.

I always have.

So..to ask me to stop ‘making stuff’ and make happiness took me aback I can assure you.

I was intrigued because I actually have always thought that creating things actually DID make happiness for me and that is certainly part of the equation.

But he was asking me to look at things a bit differently.

How DOES ONE make happiness?

This is my report back to him following my investigation:

1. go to cafe and drink good coffee and read the paper.
2. home to do a bit of business stuff.
3. think about cleaning the house but don’t and feel happy about that
decision.
4. lie on couch with dog and do nothing but feel soft breeze on
skin. Feel happy again.
5. worry that i am an unproductive slug. Give up on that idea and
decide to push this doing nothing thing farther.
6. Remember how MG looks so comfortable and good on the golf course
and realize HE seems to know how to do this pretty well.
7. Eat stuff I love for lunch.
8. Feel happy again….
9. Have conversation out loud with myself that I think is pretty
funny and I laugh.

At the end of that day I felt PEACE and ENERGY and INSPIRATION and GRATITUDE for his prescription.

I have kept that feeling too.

I see that a good chunk of my life, even tho it is infused with the supposed glamor and mystery of a creative life, has been lived inside the cultural and necessary press outward to ‘decorate my cave with the reigning cool-factor of the day.’

What stirs me, heals me, inspires me, calls me, someone termed: RADICAL HUMANITY.

I find it in the most unusual places like my friend’s sentence above.

One has to have the rare capacity get outside one’s self to practice this concept.

You can’t just be out for yourself.

FEELING INTO what another person’s reality might be is the ticket.

And perhaps extending an offering tailored for the circumstance expecting nothing in return.

That right there is the difference between my past ‘making of stuff’ and my current life.

The stuff I made was invisibly couched in the demand: “BUY ME!”

Getting a check after a sale of that kind of work relieves the pressure of a faltering bank account but never once repaired my heart.

What I am going after in my life now are answers to the question: WHAT STIRS ME?

Here’s something:

If you have some time (18 minutes, but you can watch this in smallish bits and still have your life enhanced) Chris Abani- “The only way for me to be human is for you to reflect my humanity back to me.”

Well worth the time. It might make some happiness for you.

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