#Selfie 9: Hounds of Hell

Mama said there’d be days like this.  It’s been weeks of days like this.

AboveScratchingHeadBlur

When you need to change your mind about something that’s buried deep in your blind spot, getting a good, swift sucker punch or two from someone close will do the trick.  It’s best if the motivation behind the attack is baffling and irrational – spawned from psychological guck buried in someone else’s blind spot that gets torpedoed into your gut.  I wouldn’t wish the experience on anyone, but I do acknowledge the effectiveness of it.

Everyone I know has had this happen to them.

Above_lookingdown

The three that recently occurred in my life (from three different sources) have all had slightly delayed impact, but each one came from out of the blue, stopped me in my tracks and caused internal damage. To regain functionality required three full days of full, focused attention each time.

Always, in my experience, the job is to absorb the blow but maintain some degree of objectivity, since the immediate temptation is to release the Hounds of Hell, to throw the mighty Mjölnir, to call down the Furies on the head of one’s beloved perpetrator with a howl that would elicit a sympathetic whimper from Cerberus.

That’s called “Reaction”.

What’s required in situations like this, if you want to avoid escalation into permanent, irrevocable damage, is “Response”.

AboveFixingHairBlur

That requires humility.  Always.

Above_ConsiderBlur

Where shall I look for this?  How shall I name my new wisdom, claim my newly exposed misconceptions, embrace my tender vulnerabilities, and maintain vigilance with my Amazon self, who twitches and chafes so (in full battle armour, sword razor sharp).

Clearly there’s work to be done here, in this tender blind spot.

Above_LeavingBlur

I shall gather all of this into one place, then, and paint with it.

“Of our conflicts with others we make rhetoric; of our conflicts with ourselves we make poetry”
William Butler Yeats

…major dharmic interventions…

It’s become a bit like being in my own reality TV show, this process of getting paintings out the door.  The day has just passed that I’d targeted as my deadline, barring a major dharmic intervention.  I will say that I have made great progress, and these two huge impossibles are very close to being their actual selves.  And out my door.

detail of one of the dharmic interventions
detail, Axe

But there was a major dharmic intervention on Sunday – one that snuck up on me like a viper and bit me so subtly I didn’t realize it until later when I felt myself go into shock.  I kept painting, but in fact I was at full stop.

detail d. intervention 2
detail d. intervention 2

To back up and provide some clarity, I’ve found a description of dharma that fits here,

“Dharma means the intrinsic nature of a thing. Just like the dharma of sugar is sweetness and the dharma of water is wetness. The dharma of the living being is to render service to God….”

(my apologies, this is not sourced properly in the Urban Dictionary where I found it, so I can’t tell you which guru originally said it)

In my world then, a dharmic intervention is an unexpected event that hits you on all levels – emotional, physical, psychological, professional, personal  (insert others of your choice) and shocks you enough that veils you’d never known were there are ripped away to reveal some Home Truths – the difficult ones.  In these instances there’s no avoiding or denying whatever has become crystal clear.  It’s impossible NOT to have a new perspective about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.

So to translate:  I thought I was painting about something incredibly deep and wise and well-crafted, from a place of experienced and well-honed detatchment.  Something big and unexpected happened, and because of it I now know the paintings are about something else entirely. In a way, they’ve been painting me.

So, another week will do it, I think.  I begin an intense course of study today, and every evening is also booked with rehearsals.  But I don’t need that much sleep…..

The sound of a giant awakening

My desk is in a new place – not sure I like it yet.

table saw
table saw

To my right, a pile of ash and cherry lumber, drywall, moor vents, a roll of typar, a garbage bag full of roxyl & strips of R20 styrofoam.  A rolled-up rug, boxes of Christmas decorations from 2 years ago.

To my left, other, more domestic piles – rolled up clothing, socks, a towel, plant bits on the floor.

In front of me are five large bags, each representing one fiscal year of our taxes.  Beyond that, seven small piles of clothing I will keep but have no drawer-space for.

If I were a giant waking from a long sleep to find this mountain of stuff piled on top of me, I would be irritated.  I’d make a huge crack in the earth, shove it all in, and that would be that.

the current state of the shovel painting.
the current state of the shovel painting. 

We’ve been at it all week here.

Instead of creating art, Grant has built shelves, sorted tools, filed rolls of electrical wire; plumbing, mortar, drywall materials, kitchen appliances; saws and drills and bits and screws.

Instead of working in my studio I have armoured myself with high purpose and dug deeply into corners that were like dark lairs – every one stacked full of toxically functionless Stuff that should have been gone from here a long long time ago.

Now, on the second day of 2013 in this short break from the battle between Positive Forward Movement and Clogged Paralysis, I’m well and truly exhausted and still uncertain as to the victor.

edge of a small cliff
edge of a small cliff

Enter Joseph Campbell:

I don’t believe people are looking for the
meaning of life as much as they are looking
for the experience of being alive.

Huh.

[insert pause, as I stare out at the gently falling snow…..]

south window
south window

I’m going to light the wood stove now, and BURN STUFF.

happy 2013 all.  & just to reassure – it’s a (mostly) friendly giant.