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Pivot

So much anxiety.

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Even here, in this small town Shire-like piece of Ontario, we dutifully find our regular dose of Fox news or its equivalent so we can chew on our worry in a bizarrely informed way.

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If not Fox or Sinclair and the suspicious smell of fascism, or the use of our tax dollars to bail out yet another oil pipeline through the wilderness project, then about Stan the heavy-bearded wanderer toasting muttered anarchy with Listerine; about the goose wandering alone for a month in the open field; the pencil thin young woman entering then leaving the methadone clinic to the profit of some private business person who would rather she stay addicted.

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The young, ballcapped man, tight with sloppy rage, yanks an aging woman out of a broken down house, her shirt still open to a tan-coloured pushup bra.  Every window in the house is smashed.

Here in the shire, on my way to the store for cream.

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We share our news in the bank lineup, the grocery store, the gas station like chatter over an undertow of unease… is any belief system, economic system, political system, educational system not showing signs of extreme erosion, even as others crumble?

It’s not just the climate that’s changing (…weather’s odd for this time of year, doesn’t feel right….).

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Today a friend asked, “What do you know for certain?”.  About anything, she meant.  Gave me pause.

I said that I suspect I have a working theory about how things change, but certainly no certainly.

Whatever work I’ve been able to accomplish – internal and external – in these past few years has been a more or less messy mobius of intention, action, and reflection.  All three balanced and juggled like plates or knives, never still, never dropped.  But this is abstract.

Think.  Choose.  Do.  Think again.  Do differently, Think.  Choose again. et cetera.

My working theory is that, A) pivot points occur only in the doing. 

B) well-considered doing (not just ‘busy-ness’) is an effective antidote to worry.


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Wonder, wander

Loved that concert on Saturday – what a beautiful piece!.  We are so lucky to have that venue here…

At my annual check-up, my Doctor referred to the  Vivaldi Gloria performance, which to me was five concerts and seven rehearsals ago. Each one of these has been marvelous – food for curiosity, stretch for skills, a jeweled strand of eternal moments …

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Meanwhile at home, we found a night in between all that to put the tree up with care, good humour.  This required a large degree of shared determination – that this WILL happen, no matter what work schedule demands.

The tree fell crashing to the floor the day after it went up…

Oh well, it happens.  We had too many glass decorations anyway…

It’s been that kind of approach to Christmas.

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Tricky time, this season, especially in a year of profound change.  We have not had a death to adjust to – a large pulsing place of Absence – but many of my good friends have lost mothers, dads, kids, grandchildren, friends, brothers.  I can feel the larger community shuddering with the effort of containing these losses with dignity and grace.

Though thankfully not as dire, we face our own new internal tender spots here too.  Death comes in many forms, and it’s name is change – one accepts this & shares this, or does not, choosing denial instead.  Each family is a country with it’s own cultural dances, tales and music, all learned by rote and later either challenged, updated, amended, revised – or not.

The holly and the ivy - a gift from family this year

The holly and the ivy – a gift from family this year

Our larger family is spread thinly – glue that has been there in years past has let go in places.  In the rituals that remain though there is deeper value felt, because of this.

I have answered a call in these past two days to slow myself down.  An instinctive urge to consider and observe what I love, right now, to recall what I admire and respect in people who are dear to me.  I have made some time to wander these things, name them in wonder, and make gifts of them.

Happy Christmas, all.


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#Selfie 13: Loving Narcissus

This wire is familiar – the one I’m down to.  Six paintings, eleven days – I’m now working on two at the same time.

(also workshop and rehearse the Performance Piece for Opening night, compile the Book for #Selfie and make at least two.  Then my breaks:  three rehearsals, two concerts, teaching cello lessons and art class, sleep, exercise, eat….)

 

The one just finished.  Biggest in the show, and difficult to understand scale here (thumbnails are same size as my face).  It had me on lock-down for the last two days of its' fulfillment.

The one just finished. Biggest in the show, and difficult to understand scale here (thumbnails are same size as my face). It had me on lock-down for the last two days of its’ fulfillment.

This past weekend the most difficult task was to hold my own in recurring conversations with self doubt.   I managed it, I think, by utilizing every trick in the book – bull-headedness, steel-jawed determination, nonchalance, distraction, humour, tears, goading….

Next up (one of two) is on red linen, just for a challenge.... (what was I thinking?)

Next up (one of two) is on red linen, just for a challenge…. (what was I thinking?)

This morning and late yesterday as I worked on the content of the next two I began to think differently.  It’s as though each piece is a school.  When I graduate, I get a few hours off (though this will undoubtedly change as the days pass), and then I start a new series of courses in the examination of #Selfie and … me.

As I wrote to Kristan this morning (he and I are in workshop mode with tandem and solo spoken word for the opening performance), School Rules are:

1. go consciously and directly at whatever chafes and disturbs you, or makes you squirm in discomfort.

2. find imagery that resonates with that.

3. draw, paint, sing, write – quickly, to manifest it as clearly as possible.

4. Do NOT succumb to melodrama, self-pity, cynicism, terror or denial.

5. Remain open to shock.

6. Don’t forget to breathe, sleep and eat.

Here's the photoshop sketch for Red.  Looking also for another image to layer on top of this for symbolic reasons... it will come.

Here’s the photoshop sketch for Red. Looking also for another image to layer on top of this for symbolic reasons… it will come.

I want to say something about the myth of Narcissus, which has come up in conversation as a way to describe #Selfie behavior.   Ovid’s telling of the story has been most resonant in western culture (book III of Metamorphoses.) though it’s interesting to see what Encyclopedia Britannica has to say:

Narcissus, in Greek mythology, the son of the river god Cephissus and the nymph Liriope. He was distinguished for his beauty. According to Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Book III, Narcissus’s mother was told by the blind seer Tiresias that he would have a long life, provided he never recognized himself. His rejection, however, of the love of the nymph Echo or (in an earlier version) of the young man Ameinias drew upon him the vengeance of the gods. He fell in love with his own reflection in the waters of a spring and pined away (or killed himself); the flower that bears his name sprang up where he died. The Greek traveler and geographer Pausanias, in Description of Greece, Book IX, said it was more likely that Narcissus, to console himself for the death of his beloved twin sister, his exact counterpart, sat gazing into the spring to recall her features.

The story may have derived from the ancient Greek superstition that it was unlucky or even fatal to see one’s own reflection. Narcissus was a very popular subject in Roman art.

Narcissism has long since become a psychiatric term used to describe extreme self-centredness – often so pathological that it prevents any meaningful engagement with anything not self-referenced.  A Narcissist will project himself and his needs onto anyone and everyone he/she meets, and then become confused when that ‘other’ has needs of their own.  We all do that, to some extent, myself definitely included.  It’s conditioned into us.

Obeying School Rule #3:  I will never ever get used to this #selfie thing.  Still very much squirming.

Obeying School Rule #1: I will never ever get used to this #selfie thing. Still very much squirming, but I needed an image, and so I shot myself, again.

I want to offer another idea about Narcissus and why he died.  It refers to my last post – #Selfie 12:  My face belongs to you.

I actually do believe that our outer selves belong more to those people we relate to than to us, and that we need to recognize this.  What if our fascination with our own face is more about a longing for relationship?  I would propose that taking a #Selfie and posting it online is the action that follows that longing.

Do we do this because we believe that someone out there will actually be able to ‘see’ what’s inside us (as in Avatar’s “I see you”)?  It’s interesting then that instead of this ‘recognition’ what often happens is that the anonymous viewer projects his or her self-image onto your Selfie, and then writes hateful, destructive messages in response.  Artist Lindsay Bottos has published a compelling piece that illustrates this perfectly, called Anonymous.   It’s worth taking a look at.

I like it better when they're blurry.  Does that mean something.... oh, probably it does.

I like it better when they’re blurry. Does that mean something?  Oh, probably it does….

I need to get back to painting very soon, and I’m struggling to articulate the crux of this idea.  Here goes:

If we all search for meaning through relationships, but find that meaning only when we stop projecting our internal needs onto ‘the other’, then really what we long for is a good, honest, trusting relationship with our own Self.  My needs are my own; I am responsible to and for them, and I respect that you are different from me.

Certainly Narcissus’ beauty was legendary in the myth – so many pursued him, gazed at him, idolized him for it.  What if he died because he got caught in the idea that his outer beauty was so great that it completely overshadowed who he actually was?  What if he died out of starvation for himself?

That’s happened to a few people in this culture that makes gods out of movie and pop stars.  How terrible.

a place I love.

a place I love.

So, back to it.

Wish me luck and speed and clarity, if you would.  It’s all corners on two wheels time…

Here’s the actual invitation, no longer a work-in progress.  Please come if you can.

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...back.  The gallery would like you to R.S.V.P., so they know how many to set up for.  much appreciated, K

…back. The gallery would like you to R.S.V.P., so they know how many to set up for. much appreciated, K


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#Selfie 9: Hounds of Hell

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

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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.

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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”.

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That requires humility.  Always.

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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.

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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


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Children killing children

Here are two voices that ring true for me in response to the shootings in Connecticut – please read what they have written with your best self, and think about it.  Then decide what your part of the solution will be.

guardrail on a superhighway in North America

guardrail on a 6-lane superhighway, North America

From Morgan Freeman (or I’d like to think so – maybe this is some fb person’s idea of Freeman’s “God” voice):

“You want to know why. This may sound cynical, but here’s why.

…It’s because of the way the media reports it. Flip on the news and watch how we treat the Batman theater shooter and the Oregon mall shooter like celebrities. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris are household names, but do you know the name of a single *victim* of Columbine? Disturbed
people who would otherwise just off themselves in their basements see the news and want to top it by doing something worse, and going out in a memorable way. Why a grade school? Why children? Because he’ll be remembered as a horrible monster, instead of a sad nobody.CNN’s article says that if the body count “holds up”, this will rank as the second deadliest shooting behind Virginia Tech, as if statistics somehow make one shooting worse than another. Then they post a video interview of third-graders for all the details of what they saw and heard while the shootings were happening. Fox News has plastered the killer’s face on all their reports for hours. Any articles or news stories yet that focus on the victims and ignore the killer’s identity? None that I’ve seen yet. Because they don’t sell. So congratulations, sensationalist media, you’ve just lit the fire for someone to top this and knock off a day care center or a maternity ward next.You can help by forgetting you ever read this man’s name, and remembering the name of at least one victim. You can help by donating to mental health research instead of pointing to gun control as the problem. You can help by turning off the news.”

I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother from Liza Long:  http://anarchistsoccermom.blogspot.ca/

Damnit, I am angry over this.

But I believe that positive response, no matter how private or how small is the only way we can truly change course as a community of any size.  These horrific, preventable, tragic events Should alter the way we live, the way we interact with one another – getting better at being human is the only way to go from here.

Live Bottom System, superhighway, North America

Live Bottom System, superhighway, North America

So I am going to register for an information session at the Arrowsmith School in Toronto about learning disabilities and how to understand & work with them to support the intelligent, creative, otherwise capable person in his or her path through life (as opposed to the widely accepted approach:  ignore, work around, deny, or demean, berate, punish and/or imprison).  I’m going to continue to read “The Woman who Changed her Brain”, by Barbara Arrowsmith-Young (see link above), and learn to think differently about my own abilities or lack thereof.

I’m going to keep reading and keep asking questions, so that I can use what I’ve learned to teach young people how to play music (which is the same as being human and adding your voice to the culture of Human).

I’m going to stand with the Anishnabe on 12-12-21 in protest of Stephen Harper’s Omnibus bill.

Kensington Market, Toronto, photo by Marcus Vichert

Kensington Market, Toronto, photo by Marcus Vichert – write to me if you want a print please.

Of course, it would be very sane and mature of us to acknowledge that automatic weapons should not be available for sale to anyone who isn’t fully capable of controlling his/her own emotional self.  To decide, finally, that even 22-calibre hunting rifles, which shoot bullets at killing speed for 2 miles (Miles!!), should not be permitted in this place or in any place unless the finger on the trigger belongs to someone who gets that ALL life is sacred (and it’s a crime to waste even one spark of it).

Also – and this is big – … we would be so much more sane if we realized that Big Bank Economics do NOT govern our choices.

But I think we won’t get there until we find the balls to fully admit the fact that we are all decidedly off-balance in this distorted, pressurized North American culture.

We then need to find the forgiveness and the compassion & the courage to dig out and work with our damaged selves to make it better, for Everyone we know.  Hard work of the best kind.

country lane, in a simpler place.

country lane, in a simpler place.

We’ve spent a long long time soiling our nest, eating the wrong food, abusing each other, supporting addictions, getting ahead at the expense of the other guy, eroding our selves and other selves with toxic criticism, emotional violence, psychological abuse, impossible economic pressure, and War.  War War.  Money money.

The kids are killing each other, and we’ve taught them how.

It’s time to turn the ship around.  Change your mind.