Reflecting on the past while living in the present, we make decisions that will reverberate in the future. Our daily actions, thought patterns, and the concepts we choose to cherish will create the paradigmatic structure of our life story; our collective decision-making determines our final manifestation. Kilroy J. Oldster
Last week I wrote a blog about how we use stories to keep the ego firmly attached to its physical, social and cultural identity and the consequent stunting of our emotional and spiritual growth. I want to stress that while these explanations are often helpful to our well being and help us navigate through daily life, there are many others that are having a negative effect on our well being. If we are not aware of the ongoing commentary, we cannot distinguish a story that supports our well being from one that causes us to remain stuck and bound to one perspective. It is important to be aware of stories that cause us to view the world and events through a lens of the past. Even if a story is making you happy. That story may be protecting you from a truth you don't want to face. You are limiting yourself, stunting your own growth. If you’re not aware, when you’re stuck in a narrative that loops and loops through your mind, you are completely controlled by these stories. I am presenting 4 pieces today, the first from the last day of November, the remaining three from the first week in December. The first two incorporate multiple mediums; oil paints and sticks and powder pastels filed in resin. The paintings are very dense with many choppy marks, dots, blots and tiny marks suspended by larger areas of translucent color creating smooth and abrupt transitions around and through. Chaos! Confusion! The last two open more and more, fewer marks and no additional layers of color. It is as if we are listening to noise growing louder and louder and then dissipating.
Maybe hope has to engage despair and re-narrate it. Enuma Okoro,
How can we change this habit started in our infancy? Becoming aware of the stories and how we have been hooked is the first step. Pay attention when you characterize an occurrence as being part of an unending pattern, “He always acts this way.... She never listens to me.” or you hear a strong judgement arising in your mind ”He is so stupid!”. Shift to a mode of witnessing, as you would when watching a movie, or view it playing in your head as you would when you are waking from a dream. As you watch your inner reactions, pay attention to your emotional and physical being. Hear yourself, “When she said that I felt totally ignored, as if I have no common sense.” and ask yourself “ What sensations do I feel right no?” Accept the physical feelings and notice the hurt, shame, frustration, anger whatever it is you are trying to sidestep. Once you have allowed, and accepted the emotions, feel the frustration, the shame, the vulnerability you can release the script that was in place to keep you from that emotion. Note: it is not always possible to accept or even allow those emotions and reactions the first time we try. Sometimes you have to say to yourself I am open to accepting how I feel right now. This seems elaborate, I know, but once you have accomplished this task and changed the inner dialogue you will be freed from a limiting pattern. You will experience the difference between staying stuck in an old story and finding yourself, your true self. You will be able to allow what happens, to just happen. This particular piece took days to finish. There are three different mediums including resin to float pigmented there are oil sticks there are oil paints and oils crayons used. It is amazing that there is air in this piece. The busyness of the lines, marks and dots, is contained by the border.
A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead. Graham Greene
There is another way of being: where you don’t cling to the stories but instead drop below them, and are just aware of the moment as it is, without interpretations, judgements, preconceptions. Stories will still come up, but you can notice them and not get caught up. If we can stop telling ourselves stories for long enough we will be able to take our eye off ourself. Once we stop being so fascinated with ourself, we can recognize that we are all connected, When we see other possible scenarios, we can allow for the possibility that the other person had no intention to hurt us. This painting is quiet compared to the two that went before. This piece, completed on 12/7/2019 while minimal, using 3 colors predominantly (another 2 that sit quietly back) relates to the cosmological paintings on large canvases that are multilayered and dense (click here to see Celestial Musings). This daily work has become for me a way to explore.
Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I have begun to change myself Rumi
Let’s face it, none of us is really very important. That stings doesn’t it? But of course If we are not so important, neither is anyone else. I am not more important than anyone else. No other person is more important than me. We are interdependent. Each of us contributes to the whole. It is as a member of the whole, that our significance lies. When you begin to become less attached to the ego and live more fully in your soul you will begin to feel your life has meaning; you will begin to use your gifts and talents to benefit others and not just to promote your individual “success”, and you will notice a deeper connection with others. All these pieces posted here today truly exhibit this truth, only in the totality of all the parts creating one piece is there any meaning. I went to see the exhibit of work by Vija Celmims just before sitting to work on this one. Seeing her exhibit caused me to wonder about using minimal information. How much is enough? Is this enough?
If we stay where we are, where we're stuck, where we're comfortable and safe, we die there. We become like mushrooms, living in the dark, with poop up to our chins. If you want to know only what you already know, you're dying. You're saying: Leave me alone; I don't mind this little rathole. It's warm and dry. Really, it's fine. When nothing new can get in, that's death. When oxygen can't find a way in, you die. But new is scary, and new can be disappointing, and confusing - we had this all figured out, and now we don't. Anne Lamott
My challenge to you is to start to notice what you’re telling yourself about what happens to you in your life. Let some air in!!