Keirartworks's Blog

hmmm. hmmm? Observations, actions and connection points through art.


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internal inquiry into a considered response

There’s no other way to heal, I think.

I’ve read this many times.  It is lodged in my blood now, where it often sings me awake at night, sometimes until dawn.  It is in my belly too, still mostly undigestible.

The difficulty lies in the difference between what my heart reads and what my head understands.  Or maybe that’s where the difficulty lies. I’m not sure yet.

We learn battle-readiness, to defend our tender new-budded truths.  We are misinterpreted; this can break our hearts.  We misconstrue, often to preserve the rightness of blame, the righteousness of feeling hard done by; this will initially comfort and inevitably constrict.  In the end the effect is the same:  diminishment and poverty. 

I can’t name all of the possible alternative choices, but they are known by their effect: gratitude, openness, expansion.  Love.

Oh, the bluster and the poverty of me!  As though what sparks my interest should dominate all else, till there’s no breath left in the room, and the small simple beautiful thoughts creep away to hide their perfect nakedness.  Lest they get burned by the mocking loud, the snorting judgement, the braying, betraying complaining whine.

I don’t regret this bluster- it has been an important tool for survival these many years.  I do amend it now that I’m out of survival mode:  more heed paid to the exquisitely naked, small simple thoughts.  The tiny observances, the two-way conversations held safely in trust.  All the time in the world to listen well, with love.

It is one of those nights – my blood sings me awake at 3am and now dawn sits pregnant in the east.  Sheets and sheets of luxurious rain cool street and soil after weeks of heat too strong for the season.  I am grateful for the known comfort of this natural balance, counterpoint to my tender-sore conundrum. 

What to do?  I ask the morning, as she emerges. 

In response, the rich rain sings of gravity, release, surrender.  

Family. We are family.  I have no good answer to this difficulty, for how can I be who I am not, even if who I am offends so?

So. Let the rain and the tears fall where they may, in gravity, release, and peaceful surrender.  May the good answers come over time like waves on the shore, with no urgency. Small and simple, held safely in trust.


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Value

What an intense beginning to October it has been.  It feels like I’ve been birth canal-ed – squeezed into a ‘passage through’ from that September of structural change (schedule, mental, energetic) into this October of ‘Now, GROW’.  This is the first morning of stillness after a massive storm of People and Events and I find myself looking around in wonder, like a newborn.

bridge on the way to my weekly class at Laurier

Bridge on the way to my weekly class at Laurier.  Like a birth canal, save that I come back through it every week at midnight.  Always an odd sensation.

I played back-to-back gigs in three completely different genres from Friday until Sunday at 2pm – the fallout from those rehearsals is over there…

Oh yes, and Friday was also my birthday. Why the roses...

Oh yes, and Friday was also my birthday. Why the roses…

I threw my old loveseat in a dumpster on Saturday too – the old pullout that didn’t pull out was my bed for the year after my marriage ended in 2013 and despite its’ size and brokenness, the ragged sides ravaged by cats and the seat pillows I never did finish reupholstering, I loved it dearly.  We pushed it over the edge and it opened one last time to say goodbye.  I whispered thank you for holding me before we drove away.  The tears that came then (and now, I’ll admit) are proof of my exhaustion.  Change.  Sigh.

Plaid. High back, which makes me feel short. Longer by two feet. hmmm.

Plaid. High back, which makes me feel short. Longer by two feet.

This new old couch has good pedigree (people very very dear to me have sat and slept here) and I have high hopes for it’s eventual ‘rightness’ in this space, though it still feels awkward. The studio cats have shunned it, so far.

I suspect it will grow in usefulness as I settle in to the habit of reading books, annotating books, blogging about books and commenting on the blogs of classmates.  This is how doing a Masters in Community Music translates into daily life. Ha – even as I write I know that’s not even the half of it.  This masters pervades all levels of now – how can it not, when books entitled Music and Mind in Daily Life (Clarke/Dibbin/Pitts, 2010) are on the week’s menu?  Every class from 7 until 10 pm) we talk about what is meaningful and authentic. How this changes when music becomes a commercialized product.  What does it feel like, to share musical space, to tell true musical stories that resonate and mix across personal and political cultures.  How music is so naturally inclusive, yet so easily distorted by projections of class, identity and politics.  How Music changes things, always.

Books like food. Masters is like eating and eating when you know you are already full. An exercise in stamina...

Books like food. Masters is like eating and eating when you know you are already full. An exercise in stamina…

I have not found ‘normal’ yet.  In the openness of this morning I look at my weeks and think, something has got to go.  There’s not enough room, currently, for the things I need to do, for the books I need to read.

And yet this is a stage in any valuable long-term project that I recognize, and relish – a good exercise in using emotional intelligence to understand what’s going to be supportive, gain me greater clarity, sharper focus.

And what is not.

chair_floor_studio

I’ve added things.  Cello lessons every other week (we are changing my right thumb position, working on my bowing, and fine-tuning my ears).  New cello students.  A string ensemble gathering every other week.  Learning lead vocals on two songs – one gaelic, one by Robbie Burns, for a mini-tour in Toronto in 2 weeks.  A drawing class for people who think they can’t in November, functional art making, and visual art making for a Studio Tour in December (this is how I will PAY for the masters – I have commissions and buyers, but so far no time to do the work).  Christmas mini-tour with my favourite musical collaborators.  Regular family visits.  Good, slow time with my dear and significant other.  Time spent listening and laughing with old and new friends.

It’s a lot, yes.  Doable if I practise smart self-care.  If I can find and work from a new lightness of being.

There is is.  I know what I need to let go of.  All the old heavy I carry that’s not mine.  Stories that are long over but still stuck in a run-on sentence.  Time to close those old books, and burn them.

Ah, that crazy beautiful bridge.

crazy beautiful bridge.


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fathoms

I stare at the handle of a red screwdriver and use my ears to see the space around me.  There are tires scribing the wet street three floors down; the clock ticks each second in counterpoint to the keys on my laptop.  Furnace just kicked in like a huge breathing thing acres wide and deep; the cat licks its’ shoulder. I cannot hear walls.

Audio memory kicks in now too, adding the plink…plink! of piano tuning from this morning; the breathless excited scramble-wiggle of dog claws on studio floor; footsteps like signatures in the hallway; doors squeaking open and banging shut – punctuation for arrival.  All the voices who spoke here today, each carrying different degrees of anxiety or humour,  as we navigate the measured hours before Christmas.

StudioDec2014_Piano_Cello

My ears cannot hear the sound of a to do list.  They hear only what is, and record what has been, for playback later.

StudioDec2014_Sewing_Books

These small moments I get –  to explore the shape of the room with my ears, to examine with just my fingertips the shape and texture of my cello, of a book, or a pencil as my blind grandmother did for 50 years – they are possible because I’ve chosen to make gifts, not buy them.

I have also given myself the gift of time.

StudioDec2014_selfiewpaintingwall

Happy Christmas and Hannukah everyone.

May the time with yourself and with those you care for be rich with love.


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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 …

treeHipCello

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.

Tree_GlassAngelBall

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 4: inside out

I honestly don’t have a clue what I look like from the outside.  Or- I have clues, from friends (hopefully most honest, but still undeniably subject to mood changes & emotional wellbeing), family (often distorted by… family), men who have been drinking in bars (predictable), random encounters with strangers…  and more recently in my Selfie pilgrimage… mirrors, photographs, & video that’s been initiated and shot of me by me.

Aside from those hints and clues I live my life looking out of this face, so there’s absolutely NO way I can say:  I look like this.

Buzz Aldritch on the moon in 1966 - perhaps the pinnacle of Selfies, brought to my attention be James Keelaghan, singer-songwriter extraordinaire and our insightful & resourceful AD at Summerfolk in Owen Sound (thanks James)

Buzz Aldrin (thanks MV) on the moon in 1966 – perhaps the pinnacle of Selfies, brought to my attention by James Keelaghan, singer-songwriter extraordinaire and our insightful & resourceful AD at Summerfolk in Owen Sound (thanks James)

 

So here’s what I think today:  our visual image is always and only subjective.  It’s Always about where we are, what we are doing, how we feel, what we feel… endless facets, all capable of changing and shaping the configurations of muscles on our face, and the way the light hits them.

So what makes a Selfie a good selfie?  Authenticity?

I think so, Buzz.  I do think so.

A quick shot of my left hand & shoulder from a mirror in Feb.

A quick shot of my left hand & shoulder from a mirror in Feb.

Awkward shot of my Right hand in a mirror for reference, Feb.  Music stands work as a matte black ground...

Awkward shot of my Right hand in a mirror for reference, Feb. Music stands work as a matte black ground…

 

singing, now....

drawing (anatomy mistakes in the RH knuckle – now fixed)

this morning by 9:30am.  Includes a heretical symbol for the wings of enlightenment, used by a printer in the 13th century to signal gnostic pilgrims that the way was safe...

this morning by 9:30am. Includes a heretical symbol for the wings of enlightenment, used by a printer in the 13th century to signal gnostic pilgrims that the way was safe…

3pm today.  It has since transformed again...

3pm today. It has since transformed again…

 

What’s my point?

We create an image of ourselves that is constantly changing; we are constantly changing.  There is no true constant image when viewed from the outside.

Maybe there is from the inside, though.

A working theory.


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Demons and Memory

My friend these forty-eight years and fifty to come is reserved but possibly this is because he is so exquisitely aware of and compassionate with his audience.  If you can lift yourself to the place where he responds, appropriately, to the dynamics and currents of the moment,  you will hear him, clearly and cleanly like a gift.

Is it not true that everything we do, all the sounds we utter, each move we make is designed to signal a thought – to communicate?  Most are unaware of this and favour instead the heavy sludge of daily complaint to the fine turn of a thought, a phrase, a reference that might lift laboured conversation to the place that …fireflies inhabit.

Demons vs Memory; grace wins.

Demons vs Memory; he/she who has more Grace, wins.

I recently worked all night long, alone with my 49-year-old demons, to make something beautiful.  We had twelve hours before the deadline, starting at 7pm.  It was inexpressibly difficult and clumsy; a fierce battle of wills waged in a field far away from the golden nugget I’d thought I was seeking.   Their arsenal included everything I’d ever done wrong in my life, no matter how subtle or appropriately catalytic.  The only weapon I had was a healthy form of ego-depricating humour, and humility, which turned the tide in the final battle, to my utter astonishment.

I woke the next morning feeling beaten and brutalized by Our Fight and went to a nice birthday breakfast.  My Demons came with me, as they do.  I realized, with the effects of my all-nighter still resonant that in that birthday full of the terribly unintentional distortions of Family the only thing I could do was … um … try to make a clumsy internal peace and um… move to another place less habitually toxic… keep my head down…

and try not to be pulled into, try to make make peace with the heavy collection of family demons who’ve all been firmly consigned to Our Too-small Basement.  Like a tide, they Will Rise, if bidden by emotional moons.

clumsily, I left at the right moment, so overall I think I hope I won over my demons.  This is good, because I can no longer remember the details of their rage and its origins so I’d lose if challenged in a Family Fight.  Or if I were enraged enough, in an unguarded moment I’d set them loose with the power of a thousand thousand raptors to wreak death upon the Multitudes.  Did I mention that I am by nature intolerant?  Loosing my demons, therefore is a thing to Avoid with Great Intention.

I just sent the awkward result of that night’s recorded audition thousands of miles over the internet to people with Criteria, whose job it is to measure what I did.

Let the chips fall where they may, and thank you for writing what you write, my friend.


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in the dark of the moon

The clouds are pale indigo-violet, then a blustery bruised grey shot through with long warm lines of golden sunlight  and rich blue – this sets the red reds and the yellow yellows and the living greens in brilliant, stop-in-your-tracks collaboration.  I feel as though I’m watching the gods at play in a game where they best one another in acts of impossible beauty.

From far and away family gathers to roll around in the astonishing splendour of where and when we are together at the end of growth — so brief this year.  Together we stop in our tracks and wonder.  Then we move on, we joke, we sing, we cook, we eat, we drink – though it’s perhaps true that this year that none of us are left without feeling privately humbled by the world through which we’ve hiked.

Three days, then family leaves reluctant, less difficult, more compassionate maybe than last year, though it’s hard to say.  Then the wind whips up every leaf from it’s branch to dance it high like opera, like gregorian chanting for four days – then pitches each one down in its own time to serve as mulch for 2013.

The rain, the hail and the heavy heavy sky nightly calls the woodstove to warm, and we feel compelled willy-nilly to finish what was undone – to clear, stow away, cover up, rake and dig while we imagine the day soon come when we cannot.

We know this in our skins, just watching the feverish feeding birds and chipmunks.  We catch ourselves nodding up at the sky as though to a partner we know well who sends clear signal:

it will be a heavy winter.

An incredible January hike in 2009 – ice formed on the tops of all the trees along the north-facing shore of Georgian Bay. We were astonished, all of us.

There’s a part of me that’s eager.  The fast pace of things this year flows in my veins and there may be at last some time to slow down and warm up on the inside, to listen to the resonance of what has occurred, in this year the Mayans were so clear to note in stone.

…we hike in North Sydenham, while the ground shifts beneath us, which it always has done, and always will.

I do hope, wherever you are, that you feel just as deeply grateful for what’s right in front of you – including your own self.

This is dedicated, in part – in a large part – to Amanda Todd who died last week.

Hug from me, A.T.

K