Saturday, September 19, 2015

Building A Story Or Building A Studio

Beware of Low Hanging Prayer Flags
These days it's not so much what's going on in the studio but what's happening "to" the studio.  There is an old outbuilding on our property, the size of a small garage. Since we moved here it's been on my radar that it could be "my studio". One winter I dusted and swept and tried painting there. But the wood stove leaked as did the roof and the mixture of smells from smoke and mouldy chipboard  made me feel a bit woozy.  I grudgingly dragged things back to the house and tweaked the lighting in the basement a bit.
New Roof!
This year we hit the five year mark on our little island and we weren't sure if we were staying or going. You know how the mind grumbles, how it finds little things that pain it, how it likes to scan the horizon for problems. "This property is too much work.  It's dark. The ferry is too expensive. This is not right. That isn't quite the way I like it."  And on and on as the mind has a habit of doing, building it's case, sinking it's teeth into the juicy parts of aversion.  Jacob Liberman who has a wonderful TED talk here says we shouldn't call it thinking, we should call it worrying.  I might just call it "grumbling".

36"x36" each  that's big for me! and they quite accidentally go together!
And so I didn't "make a studio" in the old workshop building because I might not stay.  You know the kind of story, built on a teetering wall of doubt. You've probably done it a few times yourself, wrapping yourself in indecision because well, this is not right and that is a problem, and well, what if, and you just never know. So it's best not to commit. There's a snug comfort to doubt.

To make a familiar story short, sometimes you need to come to the edge of jumping into the brink to realize you want to stay where you are.  You start to really appreciate what you will soon lose: the grocery store clerk who says she hasn't seen you in a while, the stunning drive into town, the people that wave at you on your way by, the neighbours who organize the most idyllic summer evening of "boules". Suddenly you feel affection and amusement at the characters who used to seem, well, annoying. It strikes you as odd and you feel a lightness of being. You have the strange sensation of feeling at home in a place where you always had a back-up plan. You wonder if someone is putting something in the water.

And then you start to clue into something, it's the movement of the mind.  Mostly we believe our stories, rather than question them. It's just easier. It's what we do.  We build the stories, we live in the stories, we are the stories. But sometimes, something in you calls you on your stories and you have the chance to say, HA.  And maybe you even tell yourself a different story, because you can (all the while knowing it's a story, that's the important part).

Blowing a hole in the old story and watching the wind whistle through frees up new energy.  Energy to build can replace the inertia of doubt. And so it's in progress, the building of a new studio.  Maybe it's just a story whose time has come. I don't know.

24"x24" Used To Be A Buddha
The carpenter ants (who knew?) have been sent on their way, the leaking roof replaced and the soggy press board removed.  We have an amazing carpenter (who is not an ant) who quietly, efficiently and with joy is rebuilding the place.  He says things like, "there's a solution for every problem." He's a dharma speaker without even knowing it.  When  the order for a new door gets delayed he says things like, "you never know what kind of day people are having."

 The new roof is on in time to keep out the fall rains and it's fun to watch the wizardry of the old becoming new.  It's always like that, the old becoming new, the new becoming old. Nothing stays the same for long. Doubt transforms into energy, energy into new things. And of course the stories, rising and falling with the movement of the mind. If only we can remember to hold them up and see them for what they are, strands of shadow and light illuminated by the movement of the mind.