Sent two pieces of work out into the world last week, both a big focus in 2009 and completely consuming me since October. It feels good to have them launch, affording me a certain release from them both.
Archetypes: Journey to Self is a piece I started in August 2008 while at Penland - a crazy, strangely obsessive need to create this Mandala-shaped three-tiered box, full of hidden compartments, drawers and potential meaning. Then it sat, beautiful but empty, for over a year. I'd designed it with a vision of filling it with content-laden books and hidden treasures, but was too intimidated to really interact with what the piece was asking me to confront. It took the pressure of an exhibition for me to dive in, and even then, I orchestrated so many obstacles that I nearly missed the deadline.
It was in the creative process that I came to understand more about what this piece represents for me, but even now, I know I don't know the whole story. For now I'm satisfied that I've "birthed a courageous work of art" (thanks, Jen!) that asked me to push beyond what I thought possible.
Archetypes is in the Pandora's Box exhibit at the Torpedo Factory's Target Gallery through January 10th.
That was Thursday. Then on Friday, we launched Moving Parts.
As individual an effort as Archetypes was, Moving Parts has a cast of thousands. Well, dozens. This baby may have been my idea, but it has morphed into something well beyond me at this point. Friday's launch event was a delightful mash-up of book art, live dance performance, experimental music, and lovers of the visual and performing arts, all brought together at Hillyer Art Space. Our raffle package (boxed collector's set of ten artist books, project documentary on DVD, complementary tickets to a CityDance performance, workshop at Pyramid Atlantic, and behind the scenes tours) and silent auction netted us enough funding to help defray production costs, while bookartist talks and dancers moved us - some to tears.
Having never done something like this before, I didn't know what to expect. We didn't raise as much money as I'd hoped for, but we did host an innovative and exciting event that put CityDance, Pyramid Atlantic and Hillyer in a good spotlight. Attendees seems genuinely interested in and intrigued by the whole idea, with more than one person telling me how much they were learning (book arts? contemporary dance? wow!). So a very positive response, at a busy time of year, in the worst recession ever? I'll take it!
Nor am I under any delusion that selling 39 more of these boxed sets (properly priced, not giving them away) will be easy or swift. Next year will be one of learning how to market and sell art, a task I'm eager to understand and accomplish.
Putting deeply personal content out into the world has broken its hold on me, while at the same time, renders me clearer. What a miracle, art.
I've got enlightenment on the mind. Reading Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth, it's hard not to. Yesterday, as my husband and I hiked along a rushing mountain stream (actually, a creek with full-fledged waterfalls in the middle of Shenandoah National Park – who knew?), my thoughts turned to Tolle's story about how the Zen Master tells his disciple to listen for the mountain stream, and then "enter Zen from there."
Shaking off my week of feeling buffeted by a lot of unconscious acting out (clients' and my own), the power of Now -- in this current book, Presence -- feels like a port in the storm. And, hey, it's a lot easier! The timing of this book's appearance on my radar is just what the Zen Master ordered.
I don't make light of these ideas. I take them to heart, in fact. Designing a life is another way of living consciously. My daily task has been to attempt do so, yet it's weeks like the last one that remind me this is a journey.
Right now, this very moment, I'm loving these passages...
There are three ways in which the ego will great the present moment: as a means to an end, as an obstacle, or as an enemy. How do you go beyond a dysfunctional relationship with the present moment? ...see it in yourself, in your thoughts and actions. In the moment of seeing, of noticing that your relationship with the Now is dysfunctional, you are present. The seeing is the arising Presence. With the seeing comes the power of choice.
Presence is a state of inner spaciousness. when you are present, you ask: How do I respond to the needs of this situation, of this moment? ...instead of reacting against a situation, you merge with it, the solution arises out of the situation itself...then, if action is possible or necessary, you take action or rather right action happens through you. Right action is action that is appropriate to the whole.
The more reactive you are, the entangled you become with form. The more identified with form, the stronger the ego. Your Being then does not shine through form anymore -- or only barely.
Nonresistance, nonjudgment, and nonattachment are the three aspects of true freedom and enlightened living.
My own little satori (flash of enlightenment) for today? Well, several actually:
- Being judgmental is just a bad habit that I can choose to give up, starting now.
- After being judgmental, resistance and attachment are my favorite defense mechanisms. I think I'll give them up, too.
- My attraction to working with archetypes makes sudden sense -- they're a powerful tool for bringing that which is unconscious (and the root of a lot of needless suffering) to light.
- Compassion and loving-kindness have felt elusive to me until now. I've wanted to feel them, but fear stood in my way, masked as my three favorite defense mechanisms.
- None of this is new information to me, it's just being presented in a way that I'm ready to move into it at a deeper level. Whatever has opened this up for me -- acupuncture, yoga, accumulated Western therapy, a walk in the woods with my husband -- I'm not afraid.
The idea from Tolle's book that made me smile the most? Something he quotes from Ram Dass: "If you think you are so enlightened, go spend a week with your parents." Which reminds me of my friend Mandy's useful reminder: when we recognize unconsciousness in others and then feel all judgy about it, we're reminded that we're not the Dali Lama yet. That's okay, though. Because right Now, this very moment, I get it.
They're everywhere, these ancient inherent truths... and an example of how things seem to be converging in my life. Reintroduced to them in 2006 by my acupuncturist (Pilar, an amazing healer), I'm now an avid student of them. They just make so much sense, on a number of levels.
They have some pretty intriguing applications, some of which I'm exploring through my client work (branding and organizational development), and through my art. Just this morning, Julia Cameron made reference to them in her book, Walking in This World. If you don't know her work, you should.
Don't take my word for it, though - check archetypes out for yourself.