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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.)



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Calmer seas

In honour of the obscure fact that the equinox sun will be square to a little-known planet called Narcissus this Sunday, I spent an entire evening being as narcissistic as possible.  I examined ten years of journals, poetry and photos, the nice way my fingernails grow, the diversity of engaging and informative titles of the books on my shelves here, my excellent sense of colour and form, some of the mighty things I have accomplished in my lifetime which have led to the SEVEN excellent interrelated projects I currently have on the table.  Oh,  and my persistence at keeping them alive and breathing and developing over the years.  The World is so lucky to have me.

Soundtrack:  Carl Orff, Carmina Burana.

Then The Dutilleux String Quartet Playing Ainsi la Nuit.

I did did get bored a few times.  Then I found things like this (thank you Michael McLuhan):

What does a dyslexic, agnostic, insomniac spend most of his time doing?
Staying up all night wondering if there really is a dog. 

This somehow gave me strength to go on…..

which I did for as long as possible until I put myself to sleep.

Jerusalem Artichoke flower, which reminds me of... me.
A beautiful Jerusalem Artichoke flower, which reminds me of… me!

The upshot is that oddly, this was good to do.

I think more of us should celebrate our greatness, with just ourselves.  Just for the heck of it.

Thanks Narcissus,


Now I’ll take the garbage to the dump.

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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.