Who designed this?

The Harness is off.  It’s over there on the floor.

Curious, to see this thing I’ve worn for 30+ years…  Who made it?  Why so tight?  Why the rough rope?  It’s ingenious, actually.  There’s a pull cord I see that will jab thumbtacks into my backside when I’m slowing down, and simultaneously tighten the collar around my neck…  added incentive to get through the last 10% of every project?

I recognize that this harness was designed by me, however unconsciously, from the inherited protestant ethic of Work as Suffering.  Life is work, therefore (inevitably) Life is Suffering.  Extrapolated:  If you don’t suffer, you’re not working hard enough.  This idea can take the joy right out of any task – even if it’s your highest calling.  It can in the extreme lead to the wearing of hair shirts, to self-flagellation, martyrdom/victimhood,  the false rationalization of the need to live like a starving artist …

up next.  Two paintings about how we choose to use our energy - to engage, or not.
up next. Two paintings about how we choose to use our energy – to engage, or not.

To be clear – I’ve had a super-productive, satisfying time since April, when I began work on the #Selfie project.  It’s been an experience full of engagement, surprise, transformation – rich with reward on every level.   I also met my harnessed self full-on several times, too, and recognized someone driven in a way that is not healthy.

With several new projects on the table now – each one full of promise, potential and fascination, I find myself wondering about this.  As I take the breath one takes before diving in, I wonder

Do I really need the thumbtacks?

Does it need to come to suffering and self-denial, this finishing?

Must it be a battle, every time?

 

resist underpainting
resist underpainting

At the very least I need to radically alter the design.  To find and use material that I like – softer, padded. No thumbtacks, no injectors full of anxiety, no neck collar.   Maybe it should be more like a well-crafted tool that will help me to pull a heavier load.

Or maybe the work isn’t heavy, and I don’t need a harness at all.

This is quite a thought.

dance step 2 resist underpainting.  The power is in the space between
dance step 2 resist underpainting. The power is in the space between

Maybe I just need to change my mind.

This is exciting.  So is 2014-2015.  So many neato, challenging collaborative and solo projects ahead.  So many Incredibles to work and play with.  Without suffering for any of it.

So, Honoured Protestant Ancestors.  What you lived and suffered in protest to is no longer life-threatening; the ethic no longer applies in any way that’s healthy and life-affirming.  Sleep in peace, with big smiles.  Grins, even.

 

“If you bring forth the genius within you it will free you. If you do not bring forth the genius within you, it will destroy you.”

– Jesus, gnostic Gospel of Thomas (which didn’t make it into the bible.  Too bad.)

 

 

trip theme

I’ve had early morning conversation with one of my rarely seen Incredibles, who is now off to work.  Two others flop in their beds – they will be vertical, and then verbal, soon.

but hang on – the snow is blowing from left to right through the alleyway behind my head.  Horozontal snow is normal in the wilds of greater Kemble where I live, but odd here in this city of 2.6 million.  A Toronto adventure lies ahead – in which folks will perhaps be shocked out of their daily sub-routines into something more…  accessible?  Present?

We are here, for a short time, to float – metaphorically – on a deep urban river in sea kayaks, letting the currents of humanity determine where we will go, and only occasionally choosing paddle-directed routes when compelled by curiosity.  I know of no better way to clear my mind of what has been, and then open it to possibility.  Maybe a long, deep sleep comes close.

The opossum who appeared at our house on New Year's Eve - on a walkabout from Virginia perhaps?  He didn't stick around in any case...
The young opossum who appeared at our Southern Georgian Bay house on New Year’s Eve – on a walkabout from Virginia?

In the next morning’s pause after the early Incredible has left for work I feel a need to name a sub-focus for these 40 hours away – ideas explored several times in conversation with both familiars and strangers.  Allow me to summarize these surprisingly intense discussions – with Enzo at the coffee shop who is working his way off the street, with J who is walking with himself in friendship, with F, M & D, who have their antennae out, with the Norwegian-born writer interviewed by Eleanor Wachtel on CBC radio who’s really not sure he should have taken the risks he has taken…  here goes:

The most difficult thing to do with our lives is to make a positive, functional plan that nourishes ourselves, first.  The plan needs to answer an internal passion, utilize natural skills & beloved tools, fan the embers of curiosity and feed back sustaining energy.  The idea and what it manifests should have a built-in capacity to serve a larger community  – i.e. – someone you have nothing to do with can look at, read or hear your work and say, ‘a-ha.  That’s me.’ (or “that’s my aunt.”  etc).  Or they can pick up what you have made and appreciate it’s design and function as part of their own plan…

Imagine the concept is a well-designed garden shed.  The plan becomes the framework.  The work that follows is ‘fleshing it out’ – making it functional, accessible, dry, light etc.

It’s so very easy to make everything else more important than this – even and perhaps especially care-giving, groceries, the internet & a trillion things that can be taken personally but are not that important.  It’s also very easy to believe that unless your work brings in income, it’s not valid.  This is just simply not true.  What is true is that if you find the concept, make the plan (custom-sized to fit what you can realistically accomplish) and then persistently apply the work, what you make will sustain you – more than possibly financially, definitely psychologically.

It will also make everyone else around you much happier.

framework for a concept
framework for a concept

Further to the Theme as discussed :

Once you reach that inner “I’ve Got it!” place,  Forward momentum comes naturally.  Priorities fall back into an order that makes sense, you will have abundant tolerance for all the silliness of your friends and family and the next task and the next will become crystal clear  (as in:  If I’m going to do this, then I’ll have to make a functional space for the doing part – done.  Then I will need a little money – done.  Then I will need this much time – done.  Then I will need a deadline – etc).

I believe everyone and every community on this planet should be engaged in some part of this process right now, for the sake of humanity and the ecosystem we are part of.

The alternative is depression, anger, rage and eventually despair.   Add guns and greed, and …  well.  This is what we’re in the process of healing, are we not?

Happy Monday, all.