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Archive for the ‘Making a Living and Making Art’ Category

Dark, Terrifying Places, and What I Learned from Leonora Carrington, Mina Loy, Lorine Niedecker and Emily Dickinson

 

To know that human beings can do evil to each other almost breaks my faith over and over again. The almost is pivotal. Part of faith is doubt and to face this is important. The paradox of beauty and terror is something I wrestle with on a regular basis. This seeming impossibility of two powerful forces calls into question all of my beliefs about humankind. To accept that there are people who can do such horror is beyond comprehension, but also, I am drawn to trying to understand.

 

For me, it was learning about the Holocaust that triggered the all-too-human terror that exists in all of us. The specific trigger is important up to a point. What matters and what lights our way along this very dark path of navigating fear is that we all feel this, we all struggle with mindless horror, and our stories all contain a memory, a trauma, an experience that stays with us throughout our lives and makes us confront our startling vulnerability and mortality. How we move through this fear, this grief, this anger, this desire for things to be different than they are defines us—we develop survival mechanisms, avoidance techniques, addictions, and also courage, strength and a deeper understanding of what it means to be part of the human race on this earth at this time.

 

Just before beginning my adolescence, I found out about the Holocaust. Not only did I find out about this horrific history, it was told to me in a barbaric and traumatic way that would haunt me for the better part of my adolescence and twenties. I was away from home for the first time, at summer camp. That same summer, my best friend decided to be best friends with another girl in our grade and left me alone, lonely and alienated, during this time when I desperately needed comfort and love. The fear and despair this all instilled in me was potent, a deep trauma that I have spent a lifetime healing. There was something of that fear that became a fear of being who I am inside, deeply, as a human being, as a living creature. This was my first intimacy with suffering.

 

For most of my pre-adolescence and into my teenage years and my twenties, I was obsessed with tragedy. I read countless books about the Weimar Republic and World War II, looked at photographs that Lee Miller took after the war, read about families that saved other families, tried to understand how this genocide of so many could happen. This dovetailed with my fascination with and adoration of tragic heroines, those women who suffered at the hand of fate and created art that was so beautiful, it set the world on fire. The fire was bright and its sparks cascaded down to earth in a silent parade of the invisible, of those who were erased, who disappeared and then reemerged in a torrent of color and dream, pain transformed into beauty.

 

Leonora Carrington’s paintings and life encapsulated all of this, her and Max Ernst’s tragic love and the deepest suffering that she bore and couldn’t bear anymore and went mad and then lived a long, long, long life after tragedy and the war, during which she continued to make sculptures and paint and set the world on fire with her beautiful creations, with her beauty. I bought tons of gorgeously plated art books on the women Surrealists and read the work of the male Surrealists, because at that time, I couldn’t get my hands on the women’s work. Then I discovered Mina Loy, who shone like a newly discovered planet in the solar system. She was my lighthouse through my twenties. She also had a tragic love life.

 

This obsession of mine with women artists who all seemed to have tragic love lives started with Emily Dickinson, whose love life can be seen as tragic, but that is not the way I see it. She made a decision to remain unmarried at a time in which that was virtually unheard of and created her life around her passion. This is not tragic. So first there was Dickinson, then Loy, bringing me to a center of my soul I had never known before. They made their own language. Then there was Carrington, whose characters and surreal settings in her paintings were like the images in my imagination and dreams. They were my soul mates and guides at a time when I did not know either of those existed.

 

In my second stint at college, I read Lorine Niedecker. Her poems and life story hit me the hardest. I cried my way through the entire semester, reading her poems, so bare and lonely and real. There was a truth in them that I had never confronted, that love and loneliness go together, that we are all alone in our deepest struggles, and that nature feels this with us, feels this for us. And that words are incantations, calling forth the hidden spheres with their music and plea.

 

Natural Light

 

These women taught me how to be myself. They taught me that feeling pain is okay. That there is beauty in the world and in the darkest times. This saved me and continues to save me. Being able to write and draw (I drew many pictures of trees and birds, sitting alone and quiet in the woods) and have hope was life-affirming and strengthened me in ways I didn’t even know at the time.

 

I think about how all of these women had tragic love lives. The four women I admire most in the world of art and language. Does that mean anything? In my time now, I don’t think so. But I used to. Those definitions of being a woman artist. What does that mean for your personal life? I used to think it meant a lot of things, including the necessity to endure pain and live a life of extended monologue superimposed on passionate dialogue, neither of which were clear or understandable. I used to think it meant being alone. At the same time, I thought it meant having an intense love affair that included bonding on a bone-soul level so that our bodies and hearts and minds were subsumed ecstatically in each other. This electric bonding happens, chemical, whatever else bonds one to another in passion.

 

Now things have evened out—I trust myself to be in a committed relationship with a man without losing myself. This has been hard-won. Crazy hard-won, as the forces exerted on women and men to lose themselves are volcanic and atmospheric. And human. What it has taught me above all is that I can survive and endure, feel deep pain and face the world, myself and others, with truth and courage. And that I can make beauty out of all of it.

 

The darkest time in my life led me to discovering the deepest beauty and courage and hope. There is hope in our actions, in our creations, in our compassion and love.

 

I have no answers to the paradoxes. I have learned to balance opposing forces for small amounts of time, struggling with them, accepting them, fighting against the darkness, entering the darkness. I have trained myself to keep coming back to that part of myself that tells me the truth. What am I feeling right now? Is this true? This is core awareness, the center of my daily life. Within this is love and washing dishes and feeling lonely and feeling cranky and being mad and ecstatic and in love and the outside world and the inside world and writing and lights.

 

All of it matters. The strange beauty and terror of life right now, right where we are.

 

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Language finds a place in the world. Language finds a place in the body.

 

One of the best things about working for myself is that sometimes almost everything just stops. There are lulls in the workflow, where regular work comes in but it’s not crazy. The daily to-do list is manageable. There are spaces in the rush of New York. I love being busy and working on a huge project and kicking ass on it and being inspired and energized by deadlines and the great teams I work with. And I also love when it slows down and I wake up to quiet mornings and slowly drinking coffee and reading and answering emails without the pressure of fifteen deadlines ticking through my brain.

 

I have been working on getting more honest, with myself, in the words that I speak to others, in what I write. I’ve been working with observing what I’m feeling and thinking and asking myself, are these honest thoughts? What am I really feeling? This bareness of observing and awareness to come to a place of truth is a solid path. Awareness itself becomes the stability, is the stability. When the pace of life and work slow down, there is room for this inquiry. And for noticing and listening without agenda or goal. Giving up of goals is difficult in an accomplishment-driven era. But that is the only way to really see your basic nature, hear your heart, allow your soul to express itself in unbidden and unpredictable ways.

 

So, lately, work has been slow. I finished up two big projects that took up much of my time and energy and mental space about two weeks ago. The silence and slowness have allowed me to get back into the imaginary worlds of my poetry manuscript and novel and spend lengths of solid time there. These are the stories and lines and paragraphs I write and live inside that are distinct imagination and creativity.

 

Then there are the other stories, the psychological constructs and emotionally driven patterns that are created. The slow pace of days and nights has also allowed me to separate my emotional reactions to events and see where the raw emotion is and where the story that accompanies the emotion starts. We all have memories and past hurts and past joys that connect to present events and we have overarching stories about who we are, what our lives are, what they’re going to be. These stories are based in fear and reaction, not the true presence of what is actually going on in our lives. It’s easier sometimes to create scenarios and outcomes in our minds than to face an uncertain array of futures, the fact that the future and even some things in the present are uncertain.  So we build stories, attributing opinions and actions to the people in our lives that we don’t know are real, but they comfort us, in their known-ness. When we allow ourselves the time to look at these stories honestly, and really break out which of the storylines are ones we have clung to so that our lives make sense, it becomes clear that most of what we think we know is not actually known to us. Then we are left with the honesty of that: that we don’t know what other people think and feel, we don’t know what’s going to happen, we don’t know the outcome of the path we are taking. When we face this, it is easier to stay grounded and make good decisions and choices, based on where we are right now, rather than reacting to a scenario in our heads.

 

Our concern then is: what can we do now that is true to ourselves and honest? What can we do now that feels right in a grounded way? This is a beautiful thing, this awareness and slowness and quiet. From this aware, slow, and quiet place, we make decisions based not on fear but on that quiet, still space inside of us that is connected to our root, our heart, our soul. Right action for the sole purpose of itself. Not to get anything or get anywhere but simply to be in the right place doing the right thing. The attunement to what feels right becomes steadier and is easier to gauge. This affects every action, from answering an email, to making a salad for lunch, to whether or not to move or take that job or sign that contract.

 

From this place, we naturally do what is most beneficial in a wholesome sense for ourselves and those around us. Beneficial in promoting peace and understanding and growth.

 

From this place, writing becomes a measure of silence, of the spaces between lives, where the dead speak and the unknown reaches of time and universal space inhabit themselves. Life, the way it moves, is an uncertain paradox. My connection to the words and the space that words represent becomes deeper and more intimate. Language finds a place in this quiet and quiets me. Quiets my breathing and my mind and my heart. This allows the stretch of language, of writing, to go deeper, to awaken musculature that has been sleeping, to open up the prime numbers of the mathematical equations that underlie grammar. I love the quiet intensity of these times of writing where I feel closer to language itself because it becomes a code through which the world is deciphered, for a minute, then the code breaks in another direction and is as soluble as so many substances in water.

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6:30pm, Saturday, May 26, 2012


Part 1

 

Lately, it’s been: brief, slight pulses of blood and light. Always writing. In snippets, on pieces of paper, on my iPod or Android notepad, between emails. Coming back to poetry is like coming back to the mother, [mothership], whalebelly.

 

Now is a Spring that feels like summer. It is May and the air conditioner hums in the window,- inaugurated. The industrial-strength fan pumps cold air from the bedroom into the rest of the house as I do chores, clean, take a shower, get laundry together, water the plants.

 

Spring, and the sun is out in full force and I am happy, consciously happy, and want to stay here for a while. It has been a long time since I felt and thought contentedness. Here is good, comfortable, beautiful, gentle. I don’t feel the need to move, to get away, to change, to fix. I am broken open, not broken.

 

I come home. To the joyous, all-consuming belly of the whale that is writing poetry. Interesting how writing other kinds of writing is so different,- with poetry, there is a {cosmic} DJ and transcendence- grateful to be back. Now the need to commit myself to it and work. That work is everything: sacred, problematic, complex, excruciating. The hardest thing in life besides being a parent.

 

I am at once broken and whole. There is this and there is that: two open points of, seemingly, reference, absurd referential points of entry into presence. In poetry, these converge, wake and bow the same, waterline, direction. Continuous flow of water.

 

Weight, gullet, stern,- patterns left by being. Pattern that truth leaves- [investigation].

 

I think: I could be [someone else>the way someone else is me, made of time, words, deliverances, propositions, letters>] made of matter of myself. I am not anti-social- that would be familiar and usual, commons of common-place-, find myself waking up over and over again from a dreamdrenched sleep into a bizarrely hazy, motionless morning, usually late morning, navigating some universal tantric waters or some such thing- not sure how to explain it, really, but listening to the wind to set my direction. If this sounds like I’ve gone back to the ’60s miraculously somehow, maybe I have. Becoming part of the landscape- in touch with all things I never would have encountered. I’m there, in the unknown of it all.

 

When we are present, we glow with a light that transcends physicality, see the unseeable, know the unknowable, enter the empty space of consciousness.

 

So many thunderstorms. I have 15 umbrellas from always being caught out in the rain and ducking into a bodega, head bowed, to grab a $4.99 one from the rack by the open door.

 

I don’t know- the beginning of everything.

 

Bureaucracy of emotion- we put up walls and walls and walls. The heart reaches, like the internal organ it is, for life. There is magic there, and unknown languages- of which, poetry written in a native tongue, in English, is, that unknown, that specific, bare unknown from which all water blooms, flowers emerge. The letters themselves glow with a pale obsolescence, as if truth roots in them only to take different forms,- of ghosts, dead phonographs, radios used to broadcast war [peace declared] in past centuries. Discerning patterns, rhythms, root, of life, of all I’ve been through, even premonitory-  {promontory} -here, in this inquiry, poetry begins.

 

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Part 2 coming

 

 

 

 

 

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This weekend, I finally wrapped up the current issue of Turntable, the online arts magazine I edit. It didn’t even require more than the usual one cup of coffee per day. My schedule had just finally cleared enough so I had a good part of two full days to devote to posting and editing. In the past several months, I’ve fit in uploads between work deadlines and proofreading jobs and coaching appointments. I thought of time and space and downtime and uptime and whatever else kind of time and how schedules and urgencies and deadlines make up a life. It doesn’t matter how busy we are, how many hours a week we work, busy is busy. Comparing hours logged doesn’t matter. What is busy to us is busy to us and we can tune in and listen to what our own personal thresholds are. And, what I’ve found is that, even in the midst of this busiest of times I have just gone through, a breath in the middle of it all, letting myself rest even a little bit, with eyes closed and computer off, expands time in an almost miraculous way. I say “almost” because there must be some law of physics that addresses what happens when taking a pause to be aware of the present moment. Quantum dharma.

 

Measuring Stillness and Deep Acceptance

 

The beginning months of this year have been a lesson in acceptance. Acceptance isn’t partial or occluded. It is the essence of unconditional view and attitude, bearing carried through in every situation, with every person, with every thought and feeling. This kind of dedication to truth, to the underlying reality of each experience, is a skill. In some ways, it comes naturally to be where we are, to experience life in a raw and immediate way. But life teaches us to shut down, protect ourselves, place barriers between ourselves and our experience, our own thoughts and emotions. Seeing through these constructions of rules and expectations and busyness, of entanglements and denial, is a lifelong pursuit. In the pursuit, there is revelation and a constancy that can only be found in the shifting of the very ground beneath us. The paradox of acceptance and constantly shifting reality is that it cuts through to the core of experience itself—a conflagration of quantum and four-dimensional reality. The reality beyond reality, in reality, existing parallel and intertwined like DNA strands in our daily lives. The very inaccessibility and uncertainty of subatomic particles is what builds the ground under us. We are made of illuminated substance that isn’t substance at all, yet it’s tangible on levels we can’t even fathom, can’t see. The measuring and acceptance of these two seemingly conflicting states of reality is reality itself.

 

We deal with an ever-changing world that we try to hold steady with toothpicks, we try to keep warm with flames from small matches. It’s like trying to hold the planets in a colander. The orbits and gravity and attachment of the universe to itself are transcended by the speed of light and dying stars and black holes and dark matter, elements of reality we can’t explain fully, elements that exist and we know of their existence only by their effect on other elements. The universe is, for the most part, unknown. Our lives are, for the most part, unknown. Yet we try to build structures and schedules and goals and even dreams that sustain on the tightrope of time, emotion, flesh, and thought.

 

Since January, time has not gone the way I expected. Schedules have been disrupted to such a degree that whatever original plan there was dissipated into ether. I spent a lot of the last few months being angry and frustrated and worried. What I found, to my surprise, was these disturbances were only on the surface. When I went deeper, there was a beautiful silence, a steady peace, the cradle of acceptance that felt like birth itself, death itself, where all things merged into one whole piece of sustained reality. All of the science in the world, all of the psychology, coping mechanisms, clotheslines, dish strainers, family albums, house walls, pay checks, are no match for this world beyond time and space, this connection to a divine peace, a mystery that will never be solved, and in which we sit like babies on a mother’s breast. The truth of this mystery is comforting, once we get beyond the sheer terror of everything we think we know expiring into nothingness, emptiness.

 

How does this all relate to daily life? It has had an astounding effect on my mind and how it works, and how I think about things, and how I maneuver through my day. Stress, fear, tension, sadness, anger, joy, desire, longing all still arise, frequently, and every moment, I turn to them and, instead of interpreting or craving or distancing, I look toward them, and inquire into their nature, their feel, texture, bodily sensation, accompanying thoughts and beliefs. This inquiry was first done so I could find peace, be at peace, cultivate acceptance and comfort and relax into my life. The stage that came after this wrangling with, again, trying to pin down peace and comfort, was the deepest lesson I have ever learned in my life. I learned to be with the experience, without looking even one second ahead, with full immersion in the emotion or bodily sensation, full presence. This is a constant vigilance, one that requires awareness each moment, and a willingness to not define, predict, tell stories about, or repel or drown in any particular experience.

 

Our stories are powerful, seductive, compelling, melodramatic, fascinating. They make our lives into epics. The thing that is so heartbreaking is that, without these stories, we are even more heroic, more epic. Being with what is without effort, without trying to frame it, is the deepest, most powerful experience there is. We can want so desperately that our hearts feel like they will break out of our chests, feel grief so intense that it weighs our bodies down like lead, feel love so overwhelming, we shy away from it with our beliefs about relationships and intimacy, and we can train ourselves to stay. To stay with all of it, intense and overpowering as it is. This is true intimacy.

 

So during these first months of the year, when I have been unable to do everything I wanted, everything I set out to do on January 1st, I have been learning, slowly, achingly, how to accept this. To accept that I can’t run three businesses, see my friends, edit my arts magazine, work out, do yoga, do my dishes, breathe, walk, make coffee, cook healthy meals, open the windows, be there for my family, feel everything I am feeling, pay attention to my thoughts, meditate, look up at the stars, attend events, sleep, watch TV and have downtime, all at the same time. I have not learned how to not sleep. I have not learned how to multitask to such an efficient degree that I can get everything done faster. I have learned that I can’t do everything.

 

Balance is a trick of the mind. In the middle of everything, I have learned how to balance. When nothing is getting done and I am ridiculously behind on everything, I have learned how to balance. What are my priorities, what are the real quality activities I want to do, where is my energy highest, deepest, most rooted?

 

I think about those little atoms dancing and the beautiful, unpredictable electrons, neutrons, and protons, quarks and unknown subatomic particles dancing, and moving, never knowing where they will move toward, never even knowing where they are, and there is amazing and awe-inspiring hope and openness there. The very nature of physical reality is built on a movement so unknown, it becomes a stable ground for us to understand and feel and live toward. We live on this earth and can feel physical earth beneath our feet, air in our lungs, our heartbeats and senses and the experience of light and darkness, fear and pain, ecstasy and faith, and it is all of apiece. It is a whole, the cradle of which is deep reality, immediate presence, and constant shifting, movement that is so constant, it holds stillness within it. In this, there is peace and we can develop skill to stay there. Stay there and work with accepting each experience exactly as it is. This is being true to ourselves, to our lives, to our experience. This discipline leaves no room for denial or interpretation or prediction. This loyalty to our experience, every moment, obliterates any lie, any protective mechanism, survival skill, learned resistance and distancing from ourselves and others and life and death. This is divine and wondrous. In each new moment, there is each new moment. Balancing this out with getting chores done, striving for goals, forming relationships is the essence of truth—in all of these pursuits lies the very nature of reality itself. It’s about how we approach our lives. We can stand open and vulnerable to our lives, letting our thoughts pass, working with our resistance and compulsion, and holding steady, heart engaged, releasing our stories, letting ourselves fully experience our lives, without trying to change them.

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There is a compelling truth these days that it is harder to make a living for almost everyone, and the uphill battle of making ends meet is staunch and, at times, merciless. These are essential concerns that are shaping our times and each one of us living and breathing and working now. The crux of our society and our world rests on being able to promote social and political reforms to assure wealth equity and economic justice.

There are many wise and compassionate and powerful voices that are writing and talking about what needs to happen so that people have enough food to eat, roofs over their heads, enough money to cover medical costs when they arise. Those of us who are working at writing, painting, music, dance, and other forms of artistic expression that don’t usually earn us a pay check have particular and specific questions to ask ourselves about how we support ourselves and, with that paid work, how we make enough time and have enough energy to work on our art. This goes for anything we want to do in life—how do we make enough time, have enough energy and make a good enough living to support our goals?

At the same time we look and see all that needs changing, we can also accept—accept ourselves, others, the world, just as we are. Accepting does not mean we give up and do nothing. True acceptance, with an open and forgiving heart, a heart that feels and gives love in the face of whatever comes, changes everything. Acceptance means having and nurturing compassion and understanding and respect in the face of anger, fear, despair and grief. With this compassion, we move to change our world from a place of love and strength, solidarity and hope. We work to make our world and lives and future better because we have hope, not because we’ve given up. Through this transformation, we can build lives and schools and studios and desks and performance spaces, equitable public policy and law, strong and warmly knit communities, lives of inspiration, creativity, spiritual wealth and material sustenance.

At the same time we are aware of what’s going on around us and we practice acceptance, we can continue to live in line with our passion. What we choose to do for a living is social, political, emotional, provocative and rooted in deeply held personal beliefs and values. In order to have a true balance of passion and work, you must make choices based on your most essential ethics and ideals. You decide if you want to make a living solely as an artist, from your art, or do other work for which you are paid and weigh many other choices along the way. This goes for anything you want to do in your life—you can make choices from a place of strength and passion. Living a creative life means living according to your own values, principles and passions. You ask yourself how and what can I contribute and build your life around those actions and ideals. In all circumstances, you must continue to inhabit and be true to your passion.

As a musician for a decade and a poet for the rest of my life, I have gone through periods where I’ve been so broke, I wondered what I was going to eat and how I was going to pay my rent. I was never in danger of starving or being homeless, as many people are, because I had and have the support of my family, but supporting myself, being financially independent and not relying on others has always been a strong driving force in my life. There were times that, even knowing I had that security, I wondered and worried every day about money coming in, money going out, what I would do if I had a medical emergency or a life-threatening or chronic illness. As Oscar Wilde said, many horrible tragedies have befallen me, and most of them didn’t happen—not to make light of the very real anxiety that is so prevalent for all of us these days.

In my early days in San Francisco, I was working as a freelancer and put most of my time and energy into my band and curating two poetry reading series. I worked hard but sporadically, so did not have a regular income. This was a semi-conscious decision on my part, to devote most of my resources to being creative and not to making money. One day, I was walking up Pierce Street, a block away from my apartment, thinking about exactly how much money I would need for food to get through the rest of the week. I figured I could do it on $10, if I ate mac and cheese and didn’t go out at all. The $10 would cover coffee and mac and cheese. I looked down at the sidewalk and there was a $10 bill, edges flapping but somehow staying put. I looked at it and was overcome by a sense of sweet fate, everything working together in order to get me through. I remember not being afraid that the bill would blow away. I bent down and picked it up and, right then and there, decided that I would figure out how to support myself and make art.

Finding that $10 bill was one of the biggest turning points in my life. All at once, I felt the almost unbearable strain of being broke, the certainty that I would always be taken care of financially, a sense of security that came from a place deep inside of me, and such gratitude for what that simple $10 bill gave me. That $10 may as well have been a million dollars. I knew, in that moment of picking up that $10, that I could be an artist and not starve.

The phrase “starving artist” is a phrase for a reason. Living on the edge, not knowing where your next meal is coming from, is both a romantic notion and a concrete reality, as an artist must constantly make decisions about how best to spend her time and energy. There are other characteristics of the darkness and core moral values that come with being an artist, that you are against the world’s systems, trying to reform and restructure a broken society, that your work on this earth as an artist is meant to be painful, self-sacrificing and agonizing. That creating means setting yourself apart from the mainstream, from the path that would allow you to make a decent and even lucrative salary, that somehow, if you made enough money to feel comfortable, the edge needed to make your work powerful and meaningful would disappear and that you would be aligning yourself with everything that is wrong with the current economic system.

It is true that, as an artist, you must continually challenge your limits, emotionally, physically, spiritually, artistically. You must put yourself in bare and raw situations where you don’t know what will happen. To live on the edge financially seems to be a given part of this life. What has become apparent to me, over the years of being an artist determined to have all of my survival needs and more met and taken care of, is that the “edge” is found in day-to-day, ordinary living. My reverence for and awareness of the brilliance of ordinary life developed over years of suffering and exploring what would make my life bearable, what would end the intolerable pain of struggling to make things work in a meaningful, practical and sustaining way—in work, love, friendship, family, music, writing and art. There have been many ups and downs on this path, and I am continually learning about myself, work, money, income and creative power, its root and importance in both art and daily life. A beautiful article is written on Belladonna and written about on Harriet, The Poetry Foundation’s blog dealing with these concerns, Ana Božičević’s Our Material Lives: A Working Poet’s Manifesto:

http://belladonnanews.blogspot.com/2011/10/our-material-lives-working-poets.html

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet/2011/10/belladonna-reading-sparks-discussion-manifesto-about-poets-material-needs

It is dharma to take care of yourself and make sure you have enough food and a comfortable place to live. We make a living, sweep our floors, take naps, write poems, play guitar, build chairs, cook meals, hug and kiss our families. This is dharma. Dharma is found in the struggle and constant navigation of the paradox of balancing money and art. Today’s times call on us to be compassionate and productive in our efforts, in our works to create sustainable lives for ourselves and our children. You make an income to give back—that is the only reason. To give back to yourself, health and food and shelter, to give back to your community, to give back to the world. That is making a living versus making money. Making a living is making meaning. It is up to each of us to determine how to make a living and make art in a way that will benefit and sustain ourselves and all of those around us. I admire and respect so many amazing artists, poets, musicians, dancers, woodworkers, potters, collagists, novelists, actors, whose presence in the world is a blessing, a catalyst, a lightning rod of hope and change and illumination.

Art is indispensable and imperative and artist’s work is invaluable to society and the world. Art is the way, the dharma. It is vital to take care of yourself and tend to a stable and grounded heart, a healthy body, an uplifted spirit and an open, compassionate mind. Gratitude for all you have and creating your life around your passions is sustaining and generous. We all have so much to give to the world. The way is constantly opening up before us, as we look at ourselves and our lives with deep honesty and courage. The struggles we have are opportunities to do work in a more efficient and productive way and create our lives and the world the way we desire it to be—beautiful and just, meaningful and creative, balancing and navigating each moment with openness and kindness, toward ourselves and others.

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Please contact arielleguy@gmail.com with any questions about Dharma not Drama coaching.

© 2011. All words and photographs are copyrighted and may only be used with the permission of the author.

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