Some days I get up and read the news. Drink my coffee and attempt to make sense of the turbulent and messy place we are wading through right now on the planet. I’m an intelligent, highly skilled professional and even on my best days I find it difficult and challenging to sort out the truth from the ferment of garbage that is clogging up the entire internet and the world at large. It’s hard. It’s hard not to get angry and feel incompetent and inconsequential. Even hopeless and helpless. It wears you down.
Some people suggest turning off the news, not engaging in social media, cutting ties with negative people… or people who don’t support your views. Offering the sage advice of Joseph Campbell, “Follow your bliss….” or the Newage anthems of, ” Create your world”, “You attract what your thoughts focus on….”, ” Follow your heart….”, “Believe”… etc …
These give temporary relief to a much deeper set of issues. It supports the non- action, non-engagement, and the privilege some have to do that.
It is this action of looking away, pulling away and pushing away that is root of the problem. It is called emotional or spiritual by-pass. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiritual_bypass
The avoidance of difficult feelings sets a danger precidence towards a purposeful denial that does not allow the resolution of those feelings. It creates a conflict with in the individual or group that seeks the need to numb out which can lead to self medicating, associating within social groups that share the same view that further the isolation. Over time this can lead to addictions and actions that insulate the person more to keep and elevated measure of dopamine in the individual and the “feel good” vibe going.
The piece for me that seem to get lost in all of this shuffling about is that challenges, difficult stuff, the seemingly impossible are the places where imagination and problem solving thrive. That is the stuff that makes the warrior. In mythologies and folktales these things are the tests the protagonist must face for the magical thing… the gift of wisdom… the key… Challenges are not against you they are for you to see the person you are in action. If you don’t like what you see then that gives you the metric for where you need to grow. Nothing grows in the world without breaking an old and sometimes no longer useful way of being. The cliche symbolic image for this of course is the seed.
As an artist I am all to familiar with this. My journey has been everything and every where on the life spectrum. It took me a long time to figure out how to stand my ground and do something in the face of challenges. Some were big and some were at times out of my control. Today, problems stimulate a process toward resolve in me.
Art has been a great teacher. Whether it is across a canvas or the construction of a thing. The years of training were all about how do I take an idea and make it real. I how do I take what is there and do something interesting with it. I learned how to draw by exploring all the tools and matetials for creating space on a page and then I drew apples on the table, my hand, landscapes, trees, nudes, the feelings, and visions in my head etc… until I came up with an articulation of my vision and intention.
Art takes time. It takes the effort towards mastery of one’s skill set and the ability to take the time to be in all the emotions and struggles that go into the process.
What Art taught me was how to approach almost anything and figure out how to create, fix, design, restore, recycle… I didn’t think just good thoughts or imagined my finished product. I risked failure, my limitations, my emotions, my ignorance, and all the other stuff that comes into place when I engage the “to do” process.
Now when I’m looking at the world and seeing the enormity of the craziness that it has become, I am willing to risk my skill set and knowledge for the challenge of maybe doing something that matters.
I feel this is perhaps the single most important thing we all need to do. If we are not willing to risk ourselves to the great challenges and changes that need to happen we will not know the powers of our humanity and its capacity to love as action and participation.
We are the ones to negotiate the next millennium. That will not be a reflection of our bliss or the size of a paycheck. It will be in the sweat and dirt we get under our nails in the creating, struggling process of know ourselves, each other, the world and how we want to live together.