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.

Gutted
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.

21 comments:

  1. My pure pleasure reading here...great new work and best of building days ahead. Celebration of new space soon...!

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    1. thanks Mary Ann! yes, built in time for winter!

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  2. Carole, you have the most insightful way of putting the human condition into words... I'm loving the new work, and just think of the wonderful things you can create when the old building is "new" again!

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    1. ah, kind words, thanks, Sharmon. yes, looking forward to having a real space with real light!

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  3. Beautiful post. Love your new studio, full of envy :-).
    Love the new work too. I have a friend who lives on one of the islands some times I think of joining her there. xoxo

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    1. Yes, come visit the islands, Annie. Jeane is nearby too!

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  4. Hey Carole, best wishes on the studio - your carpenter sounds like a great guy. Love that which used to be a Buddha!

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  5. Thanks, David! If you ever need a carpenter I am happy to pass along his name :) I feel lucky to have found him.

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  6. Outstanding post, Carole! Congrats on the new studio. May you do beautiful work there -- looks like you've already gotten a good start on that! xo

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    1. Thanks, Connie. Looking forward to move in day.

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  7. Absolutely thrilling! And that last painting is wonderful!

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    1. Hello Jeane. I think the thrill will really hit home when the walls go up!

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  8. lovely what you are saying here. best of luck with the new studio. exciting. love your new paintings too. as ever, you articulate that which is difficult to put into words.

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  9. Thanks Suki! As you know, always feels good to put those thoughts into place.

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  10. I've been in that situation more than once...wish I had read this before I moved across the country twice! I finally know through this experience that what you describe above is so true. But I keep hoping that I'll figure out that I'm exactly where I need to be. Thank you for sharing your insight

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  11. well as long as we finally get it! my old Zen teacher used to say "it takes as long as it takes". we can comfort ourselves with the fact that the possibility exists(ed) that we might never get it. how fortunate we did. now we can move from that point. and we are always exactly where we need to be! listen to the Jacob Liberman youtube I link to in the blog. He adds a little fuel to this fire.

    Thanks for stopping by!

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  12. five years?! i remember when you moved to the island - or am i imagining that? in my mind i remember when you moved to your present home, and it doesn't seem possible that it was five years ago...

    i can certainly relate to building stories about how where we live could be better. a lot of people have moved near us in the last few years, making our once quiet home not so quiet. when the dog barking goes on for hours i can build fantastically intricate stories, ha ha!! and then i walk out into the woods and forget them. ; )

    i wish you many peaceful and happy hours in your new studio, carole - and i LOVE 'used to be a buddha'...

    xoxo


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  13. ah, Lynne, yes we have been on this journey together for quite a while, I think!

    Stories and barking dogs, yes. Why is it that barking dogs seem to be a fixture of country life??

    Used To Be A Buddha has undergone a tiny bit of tweaking Literally, it was "Red Buddha" from way back, which I decided needed a new life!

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  14. I'm TO THE MOON excited for your new project unfolding!!! I have had a similar journey on my farm these past 5 years...there's something golden about that 'mid-point' that 'middle way' in any creative decade that makes for the 'repair release' swing of the pendulum...Bravo!! for your excellent next step.

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  15. Thanks, Donna! It's interesting how many people can relate to this story! And we always think, ah, it's just me. Time for another studio post. It's almost done which is exciting for me as the darker days approach.

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  16. Congratulations on your lovely studio. I found you through a happy series of stumbling around on links from Pinterest to someone's blog then to Instagram and somehow I found your site. Love your art and loved this post. Which brings me to another wonderful bit of serendipity that, I too, just wrote about the stories we tell ourselves. Hope you like it. http://www.colleenfriesen.com/2015/12/08/whats-your-story/#comments

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