Friday, 26 August 2011

Detangling




Much has happened this summer and unfortunately I haven’t had a chance to update my blog. Actually, who am I kidding, I actually haven’t WANTED to update my blog.

The reason is I have been working on some very big life issues this summer. I had got admitted into grad school and was planning a move to the city of my dreams, yet there felt like something was missing. A couple of months ago my partner actually turned to me and voiced some concerns about my plans. It’s not like he didn’t want me to go to school, but he did ask me why someone who is avidly pro-financial independence would be willing to go into tremendous amount of debt for art school.

And I couldn’t give him an answer.

Isn’t it that way with those who are the closest to us? They can sometimes see big truths in us; truths that we just overlook every day. I decided that since this question vexed me so much, I would give it the attention it deserves and for two months I did nothing but soul searching. I spent my time, planning the move, packing, selling my belongings, and in between: I meditated, talked with friends, and read some amazing books. I got inspired by authors that wrote about living an authentic life, about fear, and learning to be vulnerable and imperfect in a world that pressures us to be conformist. I searched blogs of people who live non-conformist lives like:

Niall Doherty’s “Disrupting the Rabblement”
http://www.ndoherty.com/

Lori Deschene’s “Tiny Buddha”
http://tinybuddha.com/



These guys really made me think about the possibility to create change and do some of the stuff I love without having to go the “conventional route”.

In the end, I finally realized that the main reason I wanted to go to grad school, was because I felt illegitimate as an artist without a degree. For ten years I have been studying and sketching. I have sought out professional artists for their advice, critique, and methods. I have taken night classes to fill in gaps of my education, but I have no art degree…and I finally realized that the one thing that has been keeping me back from submitting my artwork to galleries and selling aggressively online was because I felt like I wasn’t a legitimate artist. In fact, I felt like I wasn’t even an art student….more like a pre-art student, preparing myself for art school.

Not only that, but in the process, I uncovered a deep seated dream of wanting to help affect social change through my writing and art and I really had to sit and seriously had to weigh if spending 3 years and $80,000 was really in line with the things I wanted to do.

The resounding answer I got was no.

Now I’m not saying that I feel all happy and carefree, because honestly, I am scared shitless. I have no idea what I’m going to do now, but like all the other amazing movers and shakers I’ve been researching, I know that is actually a wonderful place to start.

I do have plans, though. I sat down in the last month and wrote up a list of things I would like to do:

Travel: Peru (to visit Machu Picchu), England and southern France (to visit friends), and Japan (to study Japanese calligraphy and visit Shinto temples)

Blog: I want to take my blogging to a more professional level about not have it only about art, but psychology and emotional identity

Move: I still want to move to San Francisco. I really feel like it’s the right move for me and my partner and he thinks so as well

Mentor: There is one professor at the Academy of Art that I would like to take classes with: Henry Yan. I had fallen in love with the way he captures portraits and I really wanted to learn his techniques.

Community: I want to get more involved in art communities and help develop programs to get both artists and non artists together to collaborate and express ideas.

So there you have it, some of the big things that I wanted to do when I got out of school and now that I realized that I don’t need a degree to do any of these things, I’m kind of excited to start tackling them.

The first thing I’m going to do is start a blog based on my personal philosophy of learning to find beauty in anything…and how to overcome obstacles to creativity and self expression. In fact, once I pick a domain, this will also be the first post for that new endeavor.

The small picture I drew above represents exactly how my heart feels right at this time. When I started to ask myself some hard questions, all I saw was a tangling of emotions and thoughts. I saw excuses that I used to avoid acting on my dreams, and ways in which I hid so I wouldn’t have to face my fears.

Yet, there is an incredible beauty to entangling forms. Like roots, our entanglements can not only ground us, but protect us and provide endless hours of exploration. Just like a tangle of roots, strings, or cables, emotional entanglements can carry a beautiful asymmetry to them. All tangles grow organically and are all very much a product of both time and action.

Through all this I learned life is very much a series of entanglements…you untangle a set of emotions, you create a new set, you unravel it yet again. Each conundrum that we face is not permanent, nor is it the last one we will face.

Like all living things, I think we excel in getting tangled, but if we can learn to unravel every once in a while, we just might find incredible treasures we once thought were lost.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Almost The Weekend


I keep encountering this common conversation at work that happens in office hallways and elevators. I’m sure you know this conversation: One person turns to the other and asks “How are you doing?” and the other slumps in exhaustion and goes on about how much work they have. Now , after this point, I’ve noticed that this conversation can go pretty much one of two ways among polite people; either the original person gives their sympathy for the second person’s hard week or they say something along the lines of “Well, It’s almost the weekend!”
I’ve found this “Almost the Weekend” conversation to so pervasive as well as amusing that I would sometimes experiment with my responses…such that I once got a coworker tell me on Monday, “Well the weekend is only a short 5 days away!”

How interesting that we as office workers spend 5 days a week wishing it was those magical two days a week!

Now that I’m starting to live life more fearlessly, I wonder how healthy this way of thinking is. Granted, I’ve heard the benefits of delayed gratification and certainly there seems to be no harm in looking forward to happy times when you are going through a particularly rough time…but is it really that healthy?

I remember this Ted Talk by Renee Brown where she talked about some of the principles of happiness and said that when we suppress one emotion, we suppress all of them. So when we deny yourself grief or anger, we're actually suppressing our ability to feel happiness and joy. She goes on to say that instead of denying our feelings, we should embrace them, accept them as a part of us and we would go a long way to being much more compassionate towards ourselves. That’s why she says the act of being vulnerable is essential to being happy.

I wonder if this applies to our sense of time as well.

Certainly I hear, all to often, that the coveted weekend was way to short and there wasn’t “enough” time to rest, recreate, ect… I wonder if we weren’t spending so much of our week wishing we were somewhere else, perhaps we wouldn’t be suffering from time going too fast.

I decided that I’m going to try an experiment: I’m going to plan to do something artistic, something magical, and poetic three times a day, while I'm at work. Instead of taking a coffee break or lunch break, I will work some sort of personal improvement into that time. Coupled with the fact that I’m trying to be more present at my job emotionally and mentally, I wonder if I could, in fact, slow down time and maybe not feel the sting of weekends passing from me too quickly.

I wonder if time is very much like the saying: Life is what you make it.


 
"Everything in your life is there as a vehicle for your transformation. Use it!" – Ram Dass