Thursday, January 10, 2013

Confessions, Wrestling & Clean Drawers

Pixies reading "A Mythic Life" by Jean Houston

Confessing your sins to others is a compassionate act, don't you think? There is strange kindness in it. It's like an offering of sorts. I mean your confession is a comfort to other sinners, right? You let them know they're not alone in their transgressions.

Hold on a fundamentalist minute, in Buddhism we don't have sins or sinners, do we? But it's a cultural context that's hard to escape don't you find, words like sin or confession, they're tattooed onto some hidden part of us? But I wander-- circuitously. So hard to find your way back to the point when you do that. (Note to self - wander more or less in a straight line from now on.)

But here's where I'm going.  I've been having this feeling that I didn't want to talk about and then I see one brave soul and then another, out themselves. And I stand up in my kitchen, and shout, yes, that's it. that's what's happening to me too!

Nicholas Wilton said it here. And Kris Fretheim said it over here.  And I felt so much better when I read their posts, really, I did.  I felt part of the coven, part of the secret society.

Strange frost fibers in the forest

You see, what I've been doing since this new year reared it's cheeky little head,  is cleaning and tidying my house, tossing out mounds of paper, preparing bags of things for the thrift shops. I am getting down to another layer of ruthlessness in culling "stuff".  It's good in it's own way and I was inspired by a friend who was doing some year end tossing and cleaning. It feels satisfying and freeing to have clean drawers (foolish pun intended).  But after a while I can see the devil in this work. (Goodness those Christian images are certainly busy tonight). Must have something to do with a post Christian holiday haunting?

December was mostly spent in merry making and distractions and now I have forgotten what I used to do, who I used to be.  I have no one to blame but myself, the passage of time, habit, and perhaps my own human nature.  Nicholas Wilton aptly said something like: "I feel like a stranger in my own studio." But what I sense deep in my bones is an aversion to the discomfort of facing the empty canvas; an aversion of being with the squirmy, quivering unknown. So I putter and stall. It's a common artist's tactic. When it's time to create, suddenly there are a thousand mundane tasks that need doing.  And so I wrestle with the demon of cupboard cleaning.  And I am down for the count.  He has me in a figure four leg lock, counting and sorting bits and useless pieces. And the problem is something in me knows.  Something in me cannot be fooled by all this cheery, task oriented busyness.  Something in me knows there is a great chasm between what I am doing and what I need to be doing and therein lies the angst. The truth is never far from us if we are willing to look.

But this I have learned.  It's all okay.  The stalling; it's okay for a while.  Actually it's kind of amusing and touching in a way. It's part of the game by now. And how could I ever get all this cleaning done, if I didn't have something more  important I was supposed to be doing?  How would I ever have a spotless pantry if some tender, vulnerable part of me wasn't deathly afraid of being shown up as a failure?

Buddha's Back In Town

And slowly the movie will play itself out.  Soon I will follow some inner longing down the windy stairs to the studio.  I will  poke about when I get there, maybe have a little tantrum, mess about with some things, wipe a little paint on and off a canvas, maybe fix up an old piece that is calling 911 for help.  I might tell myself I'm not really supposed to be doing this and who am I kidding anyway. And then quite by accident, when I 'm not looking I will fall into a place where things just happen, where I disappear.  And my deepest fears will be dissolved like chalk dust in a drop of wine. I will come to see that I am not as talentless and hopeless as I feared. I mean that's what it was really all about anyway, wasn't it?  Avoidance and distraction is always about that faithlessness that sneaks up on us when we're not looking.

And it's all just fine: what I'm doing now, what I'm going to do and whatever comes in between and after that. I have tidied up the drawer where the nasty words live and  I have placed my sharp tongue back in it's protective sleeve and put them both in a box marked "thrift store".  So be careful when you go shopping. You might get more than you bargained for.