Tag: comfort

the year of friendship

This is the time for reflection, i suppose, a cultural urge to look back on the past year and mull over the good and bad as we try to discipline ourselves into smaller sizes and better behavior.

For once, i have no inclination to do any of that nostalgic reminiscing or self improvement. The past year was what it was, things happened both good and bad, and i am oddly at peace with it all – every moment my heart was broken and all the times hope returned. As for right now, i am keenly aware that i am doing all i can to make my situation better – no resolutions needed.

There was one remarkable aspect about the past twelve months, though, that is worth commenting on. This was the year of friendship. All illusions i harbored about being alone, about being isolated, about being someone who could just disappear from this world without anyone noticing were vanquished in a flood of help and love. i do not think i would have survived without this outpouring. Truly, though, it did more than just get me through one day and into the next, this experience transformed me.

And, i could not be more grateful.

customer service

IMG_1439Yesterday, working in Art Space Gallery, i had a conversation with a customer that was worth its weight in gold.  Indeed, over the course of my fourth nearly sleepless night in a row, and through the drive back to ArtSpace this morning, her words kept coursing through my mind.

It had started out like nearly every other encounter in these walls:

As soon as they cross the threshold, i wait two heart beats before i smile as brightly as i can and speak with as much enthusiasm as possible without sounding weird.  “Hello!  Welcome to Art Space!”

“Hi.”  She started to look at the art.

“How are you doing on this fine day?”

“Good.”  She continues to look at the art, but she is not unfriendly by any measure.

“i don’t know if you realize this, but you have entered an artist coop – if you have any questions about any of the artists and their work, i can help.”

“Thanks.  Just looking.”  She did smile though, which is always encouraging.  However, unless people ask questions or seem open to conversation, i tend to let people look for a bit without bothering them further.  Once she reached the back room, i greeted her again – too many people miss that Lara Max has these amazing bells or that Roger Barry’s boxes have fabulous locks built into them.  Then we started talking about Lori Davis’ photography.  i told her i was in awe of the patience that it takes to be a wildlife photographer.  You have to set up before dawn, hope the sun, the clouds, the wind driven waves, the birds and the animals all do what you want or create marvelous surprises.  Then, after hours of waiting, you have to have the reflexes and the skill at composition to get the shot.

loridavis_06042015_012“This is not something that would come easily to me.”  i laughed, “This is why i am in awe.  i have a different kind of patience: i can write a book, i can spend weeks on a sculpture, i can work on a painting for two years.  However, by the time twenty minutes would have passed with me waiting for something marvelous to photograph, or for the light to get just right, or to figure out how to frame the moose, my mind would wander, my hands would fidget and i wouldn’t be able to react.  i have traded days of my life for her work, and time is the most precious thing i have, because i am in awe of her skill, her composition and her patience.  Without the patience, the other two wouldn’t have a chance to shine.”

The customer looked at me with wide eyes, nodding her head.  In a quiet voice she responded, “Thank you.”  Her hand went to her heart, “You have no idea how much I needed to hear that right now.  That feels like something divine just happened.  I feel like the message that I have to have patience is flooding over me, but you made me see it a little differently.”

A half an hour later, once she had gone through the whole gallery – and we talked about my sculpture and much of the fabulous art here by this amazing group of people – she stood in the front room as i took my seat again.  She smiled at me and said, “I don’t know why I feel the need to say this, but you know, sometimes at your darkest moments, when everything seems hopelessly lost and you have no idea what to do or where to go, that is exactly when you find your way – or get what you need.”

Instantly, tears welled up in my eyes.  “You just returned the favor.”  I put my hands out to her, hoping she could see the gratitude they were holding.  “You have no idea how much i needed to hear that.”

A few moments later, we lost something else – my surprise at finding out we had lived in the same state knocked wiser things out of the conversation – but I have been splendidly grateful for her reassurance.  She pulled me out of my fear and into a space of possibility – a great gift, particularly during this spat of insomnia and pain and stress.

addiction to art’s flow

IMG_1554Over the years, i have known too many people who struggled with addictions to things like cigarettes or shopping or sex or alcohol or drugs, or some combination of the above.  Watching their struggles, i felt this immense gratitude (along with waves of compassion) that i had not fallen down the same path.

Only, recently, i have realized that i did not escape the gene or the effects of environment that can foster addiction.  In a very real sense, i developed an one of my own – to getting lost in the flow of art.  When i make art, everything else disappears; my entire being seems to dissolve in the way the clay, paint, ink or story moves.  i crave this.  i demand it.  i seek it out, even if i am scribbling on a napkin.  Indeed, i will continue chasing after art even when every speck of evidence tells the sane rational people around me that this is a foolish, self-destructive path.

For the past several weeks, I have been trying very hard to redirect a portion of my effort and energy into finding more freelancing jobs, exploring other options for employment that can coexist beside my current business and obligations. Indeed, i am even preparing myself for the very real possibility that art must be put on hold for awhile, so that i can keep a roof over my head and food in my animals’ bellies. In addition IMG_1545to seeking non-art solutions, i took an amazing small business class to see how to better move through the troubling arena of selling art.  i am doing all i can to put myself in a better position.

i acknowledge that all these chores are necessary things, and good places to put my energy.  After all, financially at the very least, something has to shift quickly.   However, there is a drawback. i do this knowing that the energy to which my body has access is limited. Therefore, devoting a large portion of my effort into these areas has meant that other responsibilities and joys suffered. My dog is shamefully lacking time at the beach to romp and roam.  Except for meditation, my self-care has flown out the window.  The stress is wearing on me; i am letting everyone down while i scramble for better paying jobs and new galleries to sell my art.

As i fill out applications and take tests on my competency in different subjects (discovering that i am happily quiet competent at many tasks), i have been doing the same thing i did during graduate school and undergraduate and nearly every traditional job i have ever held: i am leaking poems and art like blood dripping from my hands.

The more i try to focus on other things, the more the art surfaces. If i swear off art even for a short period, my entire being destabilizes IMG_1547and creativity bleeds into inappropriate places and spaces.  Dialogue for plays murmurs from my lips while i am in the shower. Poetry finds itself scribbled in the margins of notes i take, just like in college.  Drawings swim around in my mind until i have to draw them – not just once, but twice or three times – in order to expunge the image.  Stories that were put aside earlier due to lack of time haunt both my waking and dreaming mind; characters shake me and demand their due.

For six days, an intense, nauseating migraine has been wreaking havoc with my brain, eyes, thoughts and coordination.  My  memory is off; my attention span, worse.  Writing, like i am doing right now, actually hurts as much from the effort of putting one letter after another as from trying to focus through enough visual distortion to make the IMG_1556whole world brighter than a sparkly Twilight vampire.  The one thing that has soothed is art: the flow of ink, experimenting with watercolor, the comfort of line and form.

Even when i am at my worst, i bleed art. If i try to pretend i am a normal person, like the adult that i imagine everyone else to be, then the bleeding becomes a hemorrhage. The compulsion to make it grows irresistible.  It wails within me, disconsolate and brutal, until i give in.  So, i feed the addiction, no longer caring if i am forgetting other things, neglecting important obligations or crumbling into dissolution.  Inside the flow of creating, nothing matters but what pours through me.

And, for that, i thank the entirety of this super-sparkly Creation, every moment, including those dripping with pain.  There are worse fates than being a hopeless artist.  This strange little addiction feeds my soul; it helps to pull me back from despair; it fuels the rest of the struggle to move through this life.

the floor

All day, i have yearned for the clarity of a thin ribbon of ink – the desperate purity of art to come and wash away my doubts.  i wanted to work on a story, one that explores the depths of our human ability to survive when the rug has been pulled out from under us.  However, neither were in the cards for me today. This is the fourth day of a migraine.  Quickly, the rest of my life conspired against my artful urges. Instead of throwing or painting, i have taken tests and done busy work and had my heart broken.  Over the course of a few hours, i found myself accomplishing much, demonstrating my limits and failings again, and landing once more on something solid and firm within my depths.  This strength always shocks me.  Usually, i see my spirit as having no floor, that i could collapse down into the void, frictionless falling that would never cease.  Yet, every once in awhile, something happens so grievous to my soul that this miraculous floor appears.  It keeps me from falling into complete devastation.  It gives me a chance to rest, to catch my breath and to think about how to climb out of the pit. Yesterday, this strength was not there – or rather, i did not know it was here.  Today, it is keeping me aloft as beautifully as any drawing or painting or story or poem.

Hopefully, as i gallery sit tomorrow, i will find my way to more words and ink.  But, for now, i will be going taking this strange, solid stillness and letting it coax me into dreams, into sleep, and perhaps tomorrow, if i remain seated on this foundation, i can build myself a way out.

twenty minutes

raining i just used up all the hot water in the tank doing the dishes and it will take twenty minutes to get some warmth back.  The limitations of my hot-water heater has given me a chance to blog.

Part of the reason that the dishes had stacked up for so long was that my injured hand could not hold the dishes well or without significant pain.  The other reason is that when confronted by the desire to make art and the need to do dishes, the former almost always wins.  At any rate, while i cleaned plate after plate, rejoicing over my left hand’s healing, i started mulling over the other things i have not been doing as i should: blogging, posting on social media, just generally reaching out even to my customers.

Part of it has been a conscious choice as to what kind of art i should make. i am aware that what is welling up inside me contains sorrow and fear.  The decision is whether or not to give those emotions a stronger voice.

Years and years ago, a friend typed in a lot of poetry for me when i was having health issues that made the job impossible.  Those poems contained vast despair, interspersed with moments of bliss.  Watching how she reacted to that collection silenced my pen for a bit, even though she kept thanking me for the rare poems of joy.  Then, a couple of years ago, someone blue hairwas looking at thespirit_goddess paintings to the left and shook his head, saying no one wants to see pain.  By that time, my art had already shifted toward things like the holy spirit to the right.  Despite whatever internal grief i suffered, my art channeled happiness.  So i smiled at my friend’s advice,  because, somehow, i had already taken it.

That is, until this winter.  i cannot count the times i stopped my hands from drawing or painting or sculpting because i sorrowknew the things rumbling about in my mind would produce art like that to the left which flooded out of me six years ago.   Art can be a purging – an exorcism of grief and sorrow.  This helped heal my soul all those years ago.

If i want to be honest about my experience of life, there will always be a bit of art that will evokes the darkness.  Sometimes, even when i give myself leave to create something just for the sake of my sanity, the joy still peaks out.  A drawing of howling despair turns into song. There will also always be joy – peeking through even during the hardest times.

This is not one of the hardest time.  i know that, deep in my soul.  i can go back to poems written years ago and realize how much sunlight has conquered the sorrow.  An indefinable, unconquerable strength has kept me going this winter and for that spark of grace i am wildly grateful.  May it continue to keep me slogging through.

However, i have made a choice, for myself alone.  i don’t think i am going to quiet the art that would come forth, even when i know it might be soaked in blues.  The cost of keeping it bottled up is too high – for it stifles what other art that would come.

 

pecha kucha redux

Well, if the weather is our friend, the Bucksport Pecha Kucha will be this coming Thursday (now nearly tomorrow) at the Alamo.

i should be practicing tonight, but a migraine laid me low for a few hours and still has not left me. (Why do they tend to come after an asthma attack?) When even the still, silent darkness got to be too painful, i decided to make myself useful since i was just as wretched resting. So, i have been doing a job that does not require much in the way of thought: putting more poems on the online store. The poems are already written and recorded – i just have to listen to them (my brain is not working well enough to remember what i wrote!), do the tags/keywords and create the product. Really, this is something half my brain can do, which is good because that’s about all that’s functioning right now.

Only, these poems have been soothing me. Mailboxes – written sometime in the past six years – could just as well have poured from my pen today. Losing cohesion reminds me that no matter how stressed and insecure this moment feels, i have fallen apart before and found a way to put myself back together. Love poem to sleep made the thought of rest and dreams, even while alone in my bed, titillate.

i am not quite halfway through this process and i have 160 poems already available. i can feel productive even while wondering if my brain will actually explode within my skull, or if it will take my skull with it into the room.

However, the real miracle is that these poems remind me who i am. In my pecha kucha presentation (titled Recreation) i will be talking about (SPOILER!) transformation on a personal and community level. This subject is immediate for me – and visceral.  The risk and change in my life over the past couple of months has been intense.

whispersThese poems have been reminding me who i am, down in my depths. When i work, the ego dissolves: i become nothing more than the words, the lines of the poem, the forms and stories. In those moments, the universe aligns and all is well. My burdens find me quickly enough when i step away from what i do – stress can overwhelm me when i cannot work. If i deviate from art long enough, i forget who i am. i become the stress, the vulnerability, the financial stupidity, the isolation. The fact that i live on a razor’s edge, like every other artist i know, because i have chosen to pursue these dreams, can feel like a condemnation of my being. Yet, when i pick up the pen, or like tonight, when i drench myself in what i have already done, i am soothed. Granted, there are things i would reword now. The chronic editor could always change something. But, they are proof of my passion.  This art pours out of me: thousands of poems, several novels, at least two dozen short stories, God knows how many pots – thousands  both large and small by now, hundreds of drawings and paintings.

i can forget that i have created much, and it has been wonderful. Tonight, i am using the realization that i am not as useless as this migraine makes me feel to inflate my heart. Let it fill me up.  Let it give me courage and hope!

cognitive dissonance

I took another day off today.  I wrote, I surfed the Internet, watched Hulu, listened to the storm outside my window.  There was no great master plan behind the time off, just pure emotional and psychological need.  I woke up so low this morning, I was having to find reasons to keep moving through the day.  The inertia was crippling, and I could not make it out of the house.   The weather meant firing a kiln was out of the question, so I convinced myself fate meant for me to have another chance at rest and relaxation.

Before bed, though, I started painting.  I blacked out the canvas, letting the darkness of my mood take over.  This is what I came up with:

image

 

it it could not be more different from my mood.  Indeed, she is the sibling of another painting, the one I took off the easel because I thought my mood was too desperate to work on something that happy.

Tucked into bed, I am marveling.  I do feel soothed from the time with the paintbrush and pallet knife, and utterly mystified at the art pouring through mt at this desperate hour.  Where is the joy, and the love, and the shining brightness coming from?

brokenhearted series

These are drawings aching over on heartbreak and coming to terms with it.  The last panel made me giddy when I finished it.

I promised to post these a few days ago, but I have been spending an inordinate amount of time wallowing in how crummy and manipulative people can be.  Thankfully, I appear to be getting over it today – digesting more and more through the written word.  So, I can start moving forward.  But before heading off into the new, I will share these brokenhearted drawings:

brokenheart#1

brokenheart#2

brokenheart#3

brokenheart#4

brokenheart#5

brokenheart#6

brokenheart#7

brokenheart#8

brokenheart#9

brokenheart#10

brokenheart#11

poem: one good day

A day of bliss.

Sleeping until well rested,
and awaking refreshed.
Miraculously, i accomplished everything
i needed to do.
Even better,
these hands formed loveliness
with clay.

My heart felt strong,
after days when i thought
it had broken beyond repair.

Joy over this grain of hope
bubbled out of me.

i sang rhymes
to grumpy cats
and watched my dog
run down the beach.

i rejoiced over the quietest moments.

Even arguing
with the phone company
did not leave me
despairing.

One good day.

One good day
and i feel almost human;
the realization that i can come up
out of the darkness
for a quick breath of air
and a moment in sunshine
makes me giddy.

written 26 october 2011