I recently wrote about my morning ritual. Listening to new age music, consulting several books: Everyday Serenity by David Kundtz and 365 Tao Daily Meditations by Deng Ming-Dao, among others. During those sixty minutes, my world is focused on words that inspire, challenge, and ask more questions than I ever thought I needed. This is my time. A meditation on one moment in my life. To begin the day aware. I am prepared to make every second count, even if that means doing something or just letting life pass by me by doing nothing. And I’m okay with that.
“No matter how much restriction civilization imposes on the individual, he nevertheless finds some way to circumvent it. Wit is the best safety valve modern man has evolved; the more civilization, the more repression, the more need there is for wit.”“Wit and Its Relation to the Unconscious” (1905) Sigmund Freud
I probably don’t laugh, tell, or listen to enough jokes. Or laugh at me enough. Be silly enough. Speak enough witty statements. Look at the world and scream laughter at how silly this all is. It’s shocking and laughable all at the same time. How foolish we are here in the United States of America, where the past is being exposed as untruth for some, and for others, the past is being revealed for its truth. Someone has been lying all the years I’ve been alive, or maybe they believe what they want to think. I should laugh about that more often because, in the end, I need to understand how all this will impact me at my age.
“Remember that you are always your own person. Do not surrender your mind, heart, or body to any person. Never compromise your dignity for any reason.”“Youth” Page 239- 365 Tao Daily Meditations by Deng Ming-Dao
I often tell myself I am a leader more than a follower, but I question that sometimes. I come across a piece of writing that grabs me, and I tell myself I would like to write like that. I read about a person who inspires me with a quick wit and charming charisma and is a famous writer, actor, or visual artist, and I’m like, “I wish I could be like them.” And I know that’s silly because I know that I have much to give and be, and I find those qualities endearing and with a certain amount of charisma and hell, I’ve made it this far without being successful at killing myself, and I think “That has to count for something.” It does. I know it does, so why do I sometimes think that’s insufficient? One is unsure of themselves because they have spent a good part of their adulthood (45 years to be exact) running away from themselves and smothering themselves with drugs and alcohol and fear and insecurity. Yet somehow, there were flashes of brilliance, genius, hard work, successful work, and play that didn’t involve unnatural stimulants, illusions, or delusions. Just naked me. Open to all possibilities.
“Living life as an artist is a practice. You are either engaging in the practice or you’re not. It makes no sense to say you’re not good at it. It’s like saying “I’m not good at being a monk.” You are either living as a monk or you’re not.”The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin
I dream of being an artist. And yet the truth is that all along, I know I am. I have been one since I first remember looking up at the clouds when I was very young and seeing people, animals, buildings, and plants in them. My imagination would run wild like a spinning merry-go-round that has come loose and is out of control—spinning faster and faster. It took me years to slow it down and realize that I was going around and around and seeing and being the same things. To change and strike a single path forward to open myself up to different views of life, different people, and truths that were opposite of the ones I believed for a long time. Being an artist allows me to immerse myself in life even when it often feels too much to take in at once, and I would drown, even if it was for a moment, three, or years.
These were the painful moments when I would shut myself down and be blind and unable to hear, speak, or feel. I didn’t want to feel anymore because it hurt. Deep down inside.
Now and then, a sliver of light would break through, and I would create a poem, a story, a video, a line of great thought, and there would be a relief, an insight, a truth that would inspire me to do it again and again and again. But, the pain would return, and I would have to wrap myself in a cloak of doubt, insecurity, denial, confusion, and wonder if I could ever live free again.
Learning. Opening my pure self to new life, new thoughts, and new experiences that’s what drives me now. To create. To put out evidence of my art while being my art. Living unencumbered by foolish memories and instead using them to hold back any thoughts of pain and to focus instead on the warmth of the sun, the tranquility of the ocean, the unique nature of a flower, the shade of a tree, the sizzling touch that comes with hugging those you love and the friends who support and love you with their trust and support. And in turn, you give back a hundredfold in the circle of life.
It’s all good. It really is.