Wanting as a self-propagating plant. I think about what I want a lot, tending - perhaps unnecessarily - to something already vital and without need for extra attention. I feel it would be good to know exactly what I do want, but I suppose that’s not really the point in the end. Freedom from desire?
I just read a Chinese proverb posted on Instagram by a Portuguese healer living in Germany. It said “Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.” I screen-shotted it. Google confirmed: it’s true.
A teacher once suggested my mind is like a garden; that I should be careful what ideas I let take root, and to decisively pull out any I don’t want. Gardening is a practice, and weeds are always growing. One doesn’t weed just once a season.
Can I be relaxed while reaching beyond my comfort zone? I suppose the proverb is not qualifying tension and relaxation. So, I will go ahead and be tense sometimes, when I am challenging who I am. What plants have I been tending? Which ones will I decide to stop nurturing? Make some space for something new to grow! That makes me relax and breathe deep. After all, I am not the plants, and yet, that is exactly what I am.
Who am I as a context for ideas to grow in? Nothing isn’t just nothing. There is always a context. What a feat to find nothing. Perhaps it’s the most precious thing; making existence possible for everything. Nothing sounds like God to me. Does nothing even exist?
When I meditate (right now, not very deeply) on nothingness, I find a lot of fear. That nothing feels like a void- a sucking feeling, which doesn’t feel loving. But maybe that is something, my experience of nothing is actually movement, suffocation, hopelessness, fear… so it is FULL. So maybe yeah, I’ll keep looking.
I could talk to you forever about all this. I spent the week submitting a proposal for a public art piece and today I am caught by how much I followed the rules and did the thing only because I was supposed to and not because I truly wanted to.
If I did what I wanted I would make us a sandwich and fill up a jug with water and follow my daughter off into the hills.
But instead I’m supposed to be actively making CHANGE. In the end, what makes the most change?
In your notes from a few weeks ago you were talking about navigating different realities and asked if any of our realities feel performative. Yes, is the short answer. And somehow related to what I like doing most. I’ll jump through a lot of art world hoops for the chance to make a cool project. Your week of proposal writing sounds like a lot of hoops, and I totally get that you’d rather spend time with your daughter.
I wish I had an answer to what makes the most change. Hopefully you’ll get to make the public art piece, I’m sure it would be awesome. I somehow doubt you would be willing to jump through the hoops if it wasn’t connected to something you believe in. What kind of change are you telling yourself you’re supposed to be making?
There is a constant inner dialogue I feel with this kind of question. How much can I expect from my artwork? I think that art can do a lot. Sometimes I get carried away with this. The peaks and valleys of this are that art is going to enlighten all the people that experience it, and art is useless respectively. When I’m in the valleys what I’ve usually forgotten is to have fun.
I just attended the UNM CA Conrad lecture, at the end they were talking about the importance of creativity even in the midst of all of what isn’t working in the world right now. What I got out of it was the affirmation that creative activity is valuable in and of itself. I don’t think this is in question, but some part of me feels affirmed! It feels affirming because sometimes I really want to have it all sorted out. And I’m compelled by institutions to conduct my art business in a certain way—write about it, talk about it, label clearly. Is this archival? Hope so, or it’s not very collectable… And I’m already way ahead of myself—it should have little bearing on my life. I could go on, but then where would I stop? It’s a durational performance.
I’ll end with saying that when you get the public art project maybe it can be all about the research trips into the hills with your daughter; and if any of the rules that you felt you had to follow in the proposal try to interject, maybe they can be a crunchy snack on the road.