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Warning! Resentment Construction Zone!

Note: It has been a long time since I posted a blog, What follows was mostly written late March. In April my brother died. This caused me to look with new eyes at my life and everything around me. Someday I will write about grief and living with absence, but for now here is a blog about an experience I had as an artist that is common to all of us when we attach our definition of happiness to some extrinsic occurrence. I have been meditating for over three decades now, and I am here to say that this has not resulted in walking around in a steady state of joy and happiness. However I do notice pretty quickly when I am creating stories in my head that are contributing to my own sadness and suffering. Then it is up to me to adjust my thinking and release that suffering. Funny thing, sometimes it takes me a while to give up those thoughts that are causing me grief.

Expectations are resentments under construction. Anne Lamott

I think all of us seek happiness and wish happiness to those we love. Yet we persist in pinning happiness to achievements and often these achievements are beyond our control. If someone came to us and told us they wanted some achievement so that they could be happy, we would be hard pressed to keep ourselves from pointing out the folly of that plan. And yet.... we make this deal with ourselves all the time. I did this, recently. A few months back there was an opening of a two woman show, where one of the two woman presenting work was yours truly. The opening was well attended. Many friends from different corners of my life came out in support of me. Many lingered. I did have the opportunity to speak to new people about my work on display. One of the attendees that I had not previously met told me that she loved just looking at my work, that she could totally get lost in the paintings, she found them so soothing. There were so many positive aspects. And ....there were no sales from the exhibit. I had hoped for, nay, I had expected there would be sales. The lack of sales took predominance in my thoughts. I questioned why I am doing the work at all. Specifically the work on exhibit. My work has evolved over the years, and is evolving still, but in these paintings I had been experimenting with cloud-scapes that were much more directly tied to what we see every day, than the synthesis of my experiences (which has been the focus of my painting for some years now.) As I was working on these paintings I knew they were worthy paintings, but now that I was showing them I was looking for extrinsic confirmation of their worth. And I had predetermined that the sales of paintings would be the measuring stick whereby I would prove to myself the value of my work. I know that when I set expectations and get attached to one particular outcome, I am breeding disappointment. And to seek affirmation of one's worth (or prove the worth of one's work) via some external source is a fool's errand. But it is so tempting to look for affirmation outside of one self. We shore up the sense of our self that we carry around and polish up by looking to others to acknowledge and affirm that narrative we weave. What I want, what I believe, what I think I love, what I regard as the aim of my life, all of these are tentacles of the ego, and a false sense of self. So here is a lesson for me to learn again. Do not breed disappointment by binding myself to my ego, that false self. Meditation helps me release attachment to the false self because when I sit in meditation the hold of expectations and self definitions is loosened, opening the possibility of growth. Regular practice enables me to notice when I am falling back into that self aggrandizement or self belittling. It enables me to chose when to stop that chatter in my head.

Every second, every minute It keeps changing to something different Enlightenment, don't know what it is Enlightenment, don't know what it is It says it's non attachment Non attachment. Non attachment I'm in the here and now, and I'm meditating And still I'm suffering but that's my problem Enlightenment, don't know what it is Van Morrison "ENLIGHTENMENT

Quieting the chatter and keeping the ego at bay, maintaining an open channel, is very important to my painting as well as my spiritual growth. In the gallery are more paintings in the cloud series, the paintings are playing increasingly with the idea of contrasting the flat surface of the canvas with the illusion of space.

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