As 2018 winds down, I’m contemplating changes I made back in January which have had a profound impact on me this year.
First, I began walking the 2.5 mile R/T length of the commercial street in my neighborhood. I walk solo, and keep stops or talking to a minimum. I’ve done this daily since January, and hold this time sacred as my time to just THINK – not about work, chores, To-Do lists, or concerns – just conscious, intentional time for pondering.
I call it BRAINCATION.
Second, I turned off my radio. All day, every day, cold turkey, OFF. No more NPR, no more Terry Gross (sob), no more music. The only thing I allow is Glenn Gould’s Goldberg Variations, on repeat (the ’55 version with his commentary and humming). A quick calculation reveals I’ve probably listened to it over a thousand times this year. And with good reason: the effect it has on me is like listening to stunningly beautiful math explained; my work is more focused and precise when it’s on. A musical meditation.
I’ve found that – slowly – over the course of the year, these practices allow me to better connect with my waking body, the day’s weather, the community around me. The increased attentiveness and clarity makes me feel more able to discern when to say yes vs when to say no and which people/events feed and inspire me vs which drain me, also to hear what resonates vs what rings hollow.
The new-found quiet feels like listening to life on a different frequency. When you aren’t distracting yourself with information 24/7 (yes, even very smart, interesting information – (lookin’ at you, T Gross) you’re forced to think about the things you usually allocate to a back burner. It pushes you down a more direct path through your own STUFF. For me, new cues form a better understanding of what it means to be a working artist in today’s money-centric world. The 24/7 media mantra siren call ‘MORE! FASTER!’ is best; ‘LESS… SLOWER’ is, well, less. And slower. The race to Keep up!, Speed up!, Buy!, Sell!! eventually just dulls the mind & stirs mental fog. For the time being I choose to TUNE IT ALL OUT.
WHEW. Srsly, I feel better already just writing this.
The good news is this new path has led me towards incredible art/artists, all of whom speak a common truth and a unified message: love for craft, respect for the gift, power in collaboration, importance of community /service. Here, just a few to share.
‘Westerners tend to think of emptiness as absence and lack. In the eastern context, emptiness is the essential source of being. In Daoism the metaphor of bowls, baskets and barrels are essential. These objects represent strength on the outside with great receptivity at the core. Emptiness is an openness to life, universal energy and the source’.
Absence as open space becoming a cauldron for creativity = clear mind, clear potential.
RYAN COOGLER Local treasure CFI (the California Film Institute) recently hosted a screening w the Black Panther director who, in the Q&A following the film talked about creativity, collaboration, and timing. He said he was 100% excited/invested in Fruitvale Station (w its comparatively-miniscule budget) and would never have considered doing Black Panther instead – had it been offered him then – despite its astronomical budget. He prioritizes based on what’s most important to him as an artist, and then surrounds himself with friends who bring ‘A game’ to the table (paraphrasing) to help him successfully accomplish the task.
GIFT Director Robin McKenna has created a loving film tribute to gift-based economies via a trilogy of artists working in different locations around the world. Translating inspiration from Lewis Hyde’s profoundly brilliant 1983 book The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Art of Property, a meditation extolling the virtue and value of creativity as gift (vs commodity) in which he explores humanity’s historical & societal relationship to the act of giving and its importance. This book changed my life when I read it a few years back, it in itself is a perfect gift to any artist’s mind.
Listening to them, the common thread running through my own work is revealed: the intent to manifest expressions of LOVE. Celebrations of love for new life, love for oneself / for others, love for merging lives, love for lives no longer with us – this task: putting my full attention on the process of designing and creating precious objects imbued w intention & emotion – it is my great honor, and my life’s work.