Saturday, April 4, 2009

Art and my inner compass

In art school I went to the quick sketch every week where the routine was always the same: ten minute poses, then fives, threes, and finally the ones. I couldn't help remembering these workshops, four years worth of them, while at the De Young Friday. Regardless of what year I was in, freshman to senior year, it was my physical and emotional state which determined the quality of my drawings. Anxiety, frustration or extreme fatigue, resulted in tight, uninspired or sloppy work. But on a normal evening, if I could trust myself and forget about controlling the outcome, then I produced good drawings, drawings I liked. It was, come to think of it, my introduction to meditation. Friday, despite my moody blue-hooing, I produced some drawings I liked. Well, one mainly. And I think it's only okay. But I truly enjoyed the experience of drawing to the sounds of awesome word play and musical coolness.
At the De Young, even the bathroom was cool...
I almost went to the Cellar afterwards, but went home instead. And, the De Young effect wearing off all too soon, I spent the rest of the weekend trying to reset my inner compass. And I'm embarrassed to report that it did take the entire weekend. This afternoon, for example, I was in the Asian Art museum staring at sacred artwork from Bhutan trying to calm my mind managing no more than a fleeting quiet second here and there. And this morning, during coffee with my girlfriends, the presence of the woman I consider difficult (from Mar. 25th post) was more than I could stand. And I was, I confess, a little short with her. Actually, I was a b---- to her to the discomfiture of everyone. What good is that? So I tried to set things straight later on. But even if in the Buddhist way of looking at things she may be one of my greatest spiritual teachers, it's difficult, impossible really, to imagine her ever becoming one of my favorite people. But if it were possible...wouldn't it be one of my greatest achievements? To embrace someone as a friend and sister who has time and again stung and challenged me with her passive aggression?

Now, I am feeling calm, finally. And starting to laugh at myself again. Life should never be taken seriously. It takes away from one's natural charm. It makes one perilously close to a b----. Tomorrow, 80's night in the Castro with L. Yeah!

Lesson I'm learning: Unconditional love... for all beings, for myself, may seem impossible sometimes.
But shall I choose this?................................or this?In short:


  1. I get b----y when I'm tired, sometimes, but I try not to. Good work patching it up, even if you don't like her! That should be a lesson for everyone :)

  2. Art is so soothing...

    Thanks for sharing.
    I enjoyed that.

  3. i love your images- my jury is out on unconditional love though...wonderful post xx

  4. I think spending brief stints of time with this "friend" may be beneficial as a teaching tool. She seems to come highly concentrated, and limited periods of exposure may be best for developing an "immunity." Also, does a substantial part of your anxiety come from seeing her effect on others? If so, trusting in their abilities to learn and deal may go a long way in soothing you.

  5. Rachel- Yeah, I can too sometimes, especially with members of my family, a replaying of old habitual roles. But I'm trying to be more mindful of things like that. Lashing out at people, it seems, never makes the situation better.

    Disturbed Stranger - Yes, art is my therapist.

    Lisa - Thank you!

    SparkleMirror - Yes, she's definitely a teaching tool. The other women, yes their reaction to her depends on their degree of sensitivity. But I can't say I feel any anxiety on their behalf because of her. I know they can take care of themselves. It's just uncomfortable in general around her. At any moment one of those nasty remarks might come flying at you.

    But, one of the most sensitive (who can only take an hour or so of her) is always ready to counter any negative remark this woman says. Another who by and large is never bothered by anything, just lets whatever she says go in one ear and out the other. It's her example I've been trying to follow. And when I'm feeling well grounded, content and positive, I'm able to manage it and treat her with the respect every being deserves. But when I'm feeling low it's much more difficult. Maybe I should follow the example of my more sensitive friend. Maybe speaking out more is what I need to do.

  6. I think your lesson is spot-on worthy. For me, unconditional love means that I see in others where I may once have been, or where I may one day be; in short, compassion for where a person is in their personal journey. Looking back on my life, I see several versions of me, some of whom would challenge my peace today. So, accepting and loving others just the way they are really means loving myself.

  7. SparkleMirror - That's a really wonderful way of looking at things. I'd thought that since I'd reached a state of total acceptance with my father I'd be better able to do so with everyone I found difficult. I was evidently wrong and this is my next painful lesson. I think I have to get over the fear of being hurt again because in this fear lies an accompanying sense of victimhood and self righteousness, the same things I see so strongly in her. Oh, lessons, lessons...


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