Object Dar't

April 24, 2013

HOLY COW! It can't be true!

Recently, a very dear friend inquired, "Are you an artist because you are sensitive or sensitive because you are an artist?" I don't know the answer to that question. I responded that it was a bit like, "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" The answer doesn't seem important. What seems important is the truth that I am sensitive. It's something that permeates not just my work but through the entire core of my life and it's been that way for as long as I can remember.

It is however a double edged sword. My sensitivity means that I feel things (and think things) much more intensely than I think much of the world does. I become more attached to people and they make a bigger impact on me than they see on the surface. I experience happiness as utter joy and I experience sadness profoundly. Add in my innate optimism and it makes for going through much of my life with loving bliss in spite of the pain. There is a comfort and a confidence in the pairing. And my work shows you what that looks and feels like. It's not a bad place to be. And always, always, always, the joy eventually overtakes any pain and even heals it.

 But this conversation with my friend caused me to inquire within about the nature of this sensitivity. Am I missing a filter that others seem to possess which acts like sunglasses shielding them from the waves of emotion? Because I see so many people who are impervious - almost numb. Like me, are they are born this way or has it been learned? And in looking at so many artists through history, you can see that sometimes that sensitivity is at times experienced as torturous. What is it about this sensitivity that it could be expressed as blissful OR torturous in different people? I have concluded that it literally depends on the point of view of the person. That it must be up to each of us as individuals to create our "heaven" or our "hell" here on earth.

One of my friends has a son with special disabilities. I hate that word "disabilities." To me, he is simply wired uniquely and beautifully. And when he was at my house playing with my children, he pondered upon some of my paintings. He turned to me quietly and said, "I want to live there." Most people would probably hear that as his fantasy talk but he and I have a very private understanding. His world is filled with authority figures concerned with making him behave and look as much like other children as possible. His reaction is negative and IMO rightly so. It's both frustrating and sad to watch. So I understood him fully when I replied, "I know sweetie." Because I really do know. I know what it feels like to have the world around you pushing and pulling to make you something awful when your soul is simply sweet and tender. I wish I could have told him that he must hold tight to his own soul in spite of all the things happening around him. But he doesn't have the capacity for that kind of understanding. The simple truth remains that if his internal barometer will only resist the pressure and stay true to the beautiful soul he is, he WILL live in that painting. No one knows better than me.

And so I began to wonder if we can form with force other human beings into being more "normal", maybe we can form with force (or at least partially train!) others to be more sensitive. I've begun trying. And for good reason. The result of opening yourself up to the world around you and being sensitive, is the beginning of acting in the spirit of giving. When you are sensitive, you begin to see the needs of those around you. The only way you could not is if you had no heart at all. And as demonstrated by events of late, you can see that it is human nature to help when you see someone truly in need. I've learned something very important though, giving is paradoxical. It seems you are giving something away (and that you will somehow have less) but when you give - you get back 100 times the value of what you gave away. And I want to be clear. You don't get something back from the person you gave to but rather you get something from deep inside your own self. Your heart grows bigger and becomes full. You will begin to find that the people around you will instinctively really love you. You will feel pride that exceeds even something like winning an Olympic medal. And something deep thing inside you will feel deliciously sweet instead of bitter. I can't think of a single thing in life more important than not feeling bitter at the core. There is no value in a life wasted in bitterness. I've seen it and so have you. And who on their deathbed ever says they wish they'd been more of a bitter asshole?

I realize that there will probably be people who read this post and think I'm a fuit loop. I'm used to that. I stopped giving a shit a long time ago because when I compare my world with theirs, I know with my every fiber that I'm not the fruit loop. The things I say here have always been about encouragement. It's necessary and needed. Every human being needs a cheerleader and I continue to be committed to encouraging people to run toward their goodness and happiness. Lord knows there are enough people acting from a place of pain, spreading it out. So if even one person reading this ponders their own choice of creating "heaven" or "hell", then the words of my silly blog will have the same achievement as my paintings. Go paint the world happy...give it a try...just once and see what happens. You'll change the world (and yourself), I promise.

With all the love and affection my heart can hold,

P.S. Sorry for the misleading title but I've learned that dramatic titles get posts read and this one needed to get read :D *giggle*

April 15, 2013

The Art of Crisis

When I was little, the term "mid-life crisis" was a dirty one. It was something said in hushed tones, generally about some man who in the middle of his life, supposedly lost his marbles and traded in his "old" wife and car for newer, younger, less practical ones in search of HAPPINESS.

In my teens, I started to hear about the "lost souls" who left their 6-figure salaries (or whatever success they had garnered) to run away to Africa or some screwball place to *gasp* help others and give their lives some MEANING.

I was always left with the nagging "why?" What is it at the heart of people that they one day wake up with the compulsion to completely scrap their lives? But in considering this, maybe the better question becomes, what is at the heart of so many human beings that they build UNHAPPY, MEANINGLESS lives?

I remember one day, my Dad said to me, "One day you wake up and realize that your life is the lyrics of that song; 'Is that all there is?" I was impatient with him when he said that. I really hated my Dad trying to teach me how much I should hate life. He'd done it my whole life. So I told my Dad then what had been on my mind for years; that I thought he was jaded. And he was. He was an abused, inner city kid and he'd seen the ugliest side of life and love. At the core, he fundamentally didn't believe in human goodness and clearly had a general sense of hopelessness that life just never delivers so why ask or expect what you clearly can't have? Sad. He cornered himself into a world that was both unhappy and meaningless.

In looking back though, I honestly suspect that my Dad was feeling vulnerable and was really trying to connect with me emotionally at that moment. Similar to someone standing in front of you saying, "Help me, I'm in pain and sad." If I were faced with that moment now, my response would have been entirely different. I would have experience on my side and instead of criticizing him, I would have encouraged him profusely. I would have told him that sitting there stewing in unhappiness was his choice and that for as long as he did that then his song was indeed true. That IS "all there is" if that is the choice you make. And I would have told him that it could all be different if he'd only TRY to be open to the possibility that he'd been wrong all those years.

I've had a hard three years; My first husband and friend passed away recently, I don't speak to my mother, my Dad died not wanting to speak to me and I've been going through a nasty divorce for 3 years now for no reason other than the other person wants to punish me for not accepting abuse for a lifetime. The things that have happened in these three years at times boggles my mind. I admit to being a woman in crisis in the middle of her life. For as hard as it has been, it's also been a blessing. That's right I said a BLESSING. There's an art to crisis and I'm becoming quite practiced at it. If my Dad were here now, I'd tell him that this is not all there is. What I know about my Dad and so many other people is that they are seldom willing to gamble the small comforts they have garnered over the years. They'll settle for a crumb of miserable comfort rather than willingly run toward the crisis of change. I see people spending their lives avoiding adversity at all costs and recoiling when it presents itself. That's an epic mistake. Because while crisis does come with "growing pains", the result is profound. We grow, become stronger and reinvent ourselves for the better. So the "Art of Crisis" is actually to embrace (and walk toward!) what on the surface seems like a very negative experience.

I wish my Dad could have had a mid-life crisis. It would have at least given him a 50/50 shot at dying a happier man than what he was. I think now about those early stories of men having mid-life crisis' and the supposed fruit loops that trotted off to Africa or wherever. I'm proud of those people. They were brave. Maybe they wound up happier, maybe they didn't. They definitely wound up with some great adventures and probably a whole lot of pride that they gave life every effort. There's honor in not settling.