On the importance of carving out time to simply be. “More and more I find that is the issue: how to create time, how to create buffers around us so that we are doing nothing. I think that may be our biggest disease right now–the disease of busyness. With all these modern conveniences that are supposed to be time-savers, I think we’ve never had less time. So I think creating open space, time to do nothing, time to love, time to be, time to dream, to think, to walk, is its own act of civil disobedience.” -Terry Tempest Williams (In an interview with Michael Toms, New Dimensions Radio.)
I haven’t posted here in weeks. Carving out time in the fading days of summer to “be” without stress nor the desire to do more than that while attending to the necessities of everyday living. Some activity in the studio–new sculpture and painting in progress–but allowing time to dream them into being. Spaciousness. Silence. Even though fire is the element of summer what I have been most alive to has been the element of air. The wind. The feel of it on my skin, watching the movement of the leaves in the trees, the birds playing at the feeder, and the breath. Spirit. In Hebrew, Ruah is the word for breath but also for spirit. Air, breath, spirit are one. Air is the one element (out of the four including earth, fire, water) that we can not see but is most essential to life itself and perhaps most taken for granted. In The Spell of the Sensuous, David Abram writes, “The air, we might say, is the soul of the visible landscape, the secret realms from whence all beings draw their nourishment. As the very mystery of the living present, it is that most intimate absence from whence the present presences, and thus a key to the forgotten presence of the earth.” By being present to the air we breathe, we remember the sacredness of life, in this present moment. I have often felt that the most radical thing we can do is slow down and the quote above by Williams reinforces that for me. It is an on-going practice. And not always easy as it can open up emotional wounds that have been suppressed by the busyness of life. (A therapist or spiritual director can be of support during this time as it has been on my own journey.) Slowing down doesn’t mean we are lazy or that we don’t do our work in the world. We tend to our lives but we become mindful of the places where we create more stress than is necessary? In the desire for more stuff, more money, or the search for fame or the perfect partner? All the striving, which the Buddha recognized as the source of our suffering (along with our aversions). Simplifying our wants and our desires in order to live a more balanced, peaceful life. We only get one twirl around the dance floor of life so, for me, I want to be as present to life as possible. To beauty. Love. Art. That’s what’s been on my mind these last few weeks. How about you?
Reading Alex Grey’s Art Psalms as I begin my days in the studio. His voice and vision encourage me to go on in spite of lingering fears around the challenges of making a living as an artist (and a spiritual artist!) in this world especially within the current economic climate. Making a living these days is difficult enough for many here and abroad and with so many cutbacks, the arts and all creative sectors have been hurt badly. However, once we answer the call there is no going back and it takes fierce courage to stay the course. I believe if we as artists answer that sacred call, it is important to nurture your relationship to the Divine, the universal creative energy that guides each of us, and continue to walk ‘confidently in the direction of [our] dreams’ to quote Thoreau. It’s what is being asked of us during this evolutionary time where new ways of being are emerging as old structures break down. Never give up on your dreams….I love the first line of this mystical rant as he calls them. Art CAN transform the way we see ourselves and the world. Yes!
From “Theosis” by Alex Grey
Art can transform the way we see ourselves and the world.
Sacred art has always depended on this possibility.
Theosis means coming closer to God by contemplation of icons.
New ways of seeing lead to new ways of being.
When your being is transformed,
The world occuring to you transforms.
Contemplation of a Buddha or Christ
Implants the possibility of our own enlightenment.
Icons of a United World, a Sacred Plant
Are essential now, to implant
The possibility of saving our collective lives,
Reverencing our Mother Nature Goddesself,
The One WorldSpirit of all plants and creatures.
Note: There is another stanza between these and I highly recommend buying the book in support of your sacred art calling. As an artist, I try to be mindful of copyright laws for other artists as well even though there is so much available on the web. www.alexgrey.com.