Explore

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Openness is a gift

Without end

Lacking parameters I can

Freely explore all that is

Available to me

In this world,

This vast, expansive world.

But I sometimes get lost

Exploring,

Discovering,

Understanding,

My head and heart

Overwhelmed

With the promise of possibility

And the blur of

All that I have yet to learn.

I’m yearning for answers

But only finding

More questions

Leading me to

Embark on

New beginnings

New journeys in

Newly found worlds

That multiply over time

And my web grows thick with

Connections

Restraining my

Progress

But enriching my

Mind.

Intentional Carelessness

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Intentional carelessness is the act of purposefully choosing not to attach ourselves to what happens or to what happens as a result of what happens. It is a stance that promotes curiosity and openness to experiencing life as it is lived without judgment or regret. It means that we do not take ourselves and our preconceived, rigid ideas about the world seriously; however, the fate of the world, and our actions or lack of action that contributes to its status, remain worthy of our reflection and commitment. We care about what happens but long to understand it through the hue of multiple, interchangeable lenses that together form a more comprehensive yet mysterious snapshot of reality. We effortlessly move on when we fail, and we are humbled by this experience. This is both our choice and our undeniable privilege because we choose to care about what matters most and to not care when caring becomes a hindrance to our humanity.

Mind = Action

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What happens in our minds and our actions are mutually influential. Our minds offer us the freedom to be open, continually metamorphic, and generative. What we think or feel is followed by what we do. We respond and react to what we do with our thoughts. Actions are more permanent than thoughts as they impact or are observed by other people, or, if they aren’t, involve objects if only the molecules in the air that we breathe — and therefore have a broader consequence than our thoughts. Our actions are often based on methodical, careful, purposeful deliberations that occur in our minds; however, they represent a closure to our thoughts — they are the result what occurs when what we have mulled over in our minds within the context of our environment and identity leads to some movement, some word, some formative engagement with the world. Our minds offer us the opportunity to explore without the constraints and finality of our actions. So mind itself is detached action that will, in some way and at some time, manifest in some type of expression that has transformative potential. To think is to take action, and to take action is to invest in our thinking.

Le Pièce de Résistance

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Recently, as I presented a casserole made for my grandmother out of a certain canned spare animal parts product, with love as only such a casserole could be made by a vegetarian, I sarcastically exclaimed, with my best French accent — which, according to my middle school French teacher, is pretty darn good — “here is my pièce de résistance!”

Too often, we fail to engage with life because we think our actions will not be consequential. Lack of impact becomes conflated with meaninglessness. We hold back, toiling away in private, until our unique pièce de résistance is ready for the big reveal.

Interestingly, great ideas emerge through immersion in the real world. We can try things out, get laughed at or ignored, and maybe even be appreciated. Regardless of the reaction, sharing our ideas and art with others even in preliminary stages can spark creative evolution. Creativity can also be developed by not taking ourselves and our work so seriously that we feel it is too privileged to be enjoyed by others.

So if you have not yet created or discovered your pièce de résistance, that thing for which you hope to be known and revered, fret not. Not only are you in good company, but that thing or things can be provoked through exploration, trial and error, and open reflection.

Hungry Muse, Naughty Muse

I yearn to create writing that is imaginative, playful, honest, and luscious — and to do so on a consistent basis. Writing is not only an emotional outlet, it is a reflection of who I am. It serves as documentation of the interconnected processes of self-exploration and transformation which I continually experience. It is an exhumation and selfless giving of the most special, sacred spaces in my heart. Writing is what makes me come alive, and in turn it gives life to ideas that hopefully inspire others in unique and meaningful ways.

At one time, I barely wrote anything for about four months. I was depleted, uninspired, and exhausted. My life felt heavy and stagnant. I was unable to produce anything of merit, anything worth sharing, anything worth reading. The less I wrote, the less I wrote. I was sucked into a downward repressive spiral from which emergence seemed more and more impossible. Was this it? Was there nothing more to say? Was I all but gone?

There was a lot going on my life at the time, and as a highly sensitive person I am often unable to filter out certain types of difficult experiences. I absorb them, ruminate, and internalize other people’s insecurities. Eventually my despair serves a purpose — connecting me with greater awareness and understanding, and illuminating new insights. This lengthy and difficult process is necessary for my spiritual awakening. But I could have been writing to help me make sense of those experiences along the way.

When I get stuck, it is usually because my naughty, naughty inner muse is assisting me in this self-sabotage. And like unruly children who are neglected and unfed, that naughtiness comes from a lack of attention and nurturance which renders her incapable of engaging in a creative relationship with me. When I feed my inner muse, she astonishes me with her support and tender loving care; In other words, I am better able to invoke passion and love through the written word when I take care of myself and indulge my desires — regardless of how often I stare at a blank piece of paper or screen. Because my writing is so deeply connected to, and a part of, me — I need to be well in order to write well.

There are certain special things I like to do to feed my inner muse, like immersing myself in sunshine, bubble baths, ocean waves, and spectacular music, eating ripe peaches at the height of summer, and traveling to previously unfamiliar places. Daily rituals, like meditation and physical movement, also fill her heart with joy. I can also approach every moment with openness, wonder, and curiosity and engage with the world as my playground, rather than a battlefield. Neglect her, leave her hungry, and naughty girl will once again emerge. At every moment, I need to treat her, my most wise and beautiful inner self, with lovingkindness so she, and my writing, may flourish.

Art for the Masses

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A few years ago, when visiting a major museum in the Mid-Atlantic area which shall remain unnamed, I was absolutely mortified when an employee — or perhaps it was a volunteer — handed me a device through which I was expected to listen to a narrative about the artwork I was about to view. I said to my mother who accompanied me at the time that it was like the scene in Amadeus when they perform the ballet without music. Art is meant to be personal and intimate; a group of people looking at the same piece but in their own little worlds listening to a streaming audio track in their headphones is practically sacrilegious.

Is this trend a feeble attempt to make art accessible to more people? A response to declining budgets and volunteer availability? A cruel social experiment intended to update what some people see as antiquated traditions with modern technology? Whatever it is, I refuse to take part in it. If the museum cannot or will not provide the service of a friendly and knowledgeable guide, I would rather engage with text than passively listen to some unknown, unseen, distant person speak. So hand me a pamphlet, or allow me to find the text that is typically installed as part of every exhibit on my own, and spare me the headphones. Or I shall do my own research instead.

My resistance to the integration of new technology at art museums is not in any way a hesitation to dismantle the old order. In fact, I was an early computer adopter, writing simple programs when my age was still in the single digits, and I value what technology brings to our lives. But when it creates a distraction, noise, and separation among people it is, in my opinion, no longer serving a useful purpose.

I may be a snob, but I am an inclusive snob. I believe that all people have the right to enjoy good and beautiful things by virtue of their human nature (of course some people vehemently deny and reject this right, and who am I to argue with them). If indeed the headphone thing is what needs to be done to engage people in the fine arts community…no, I can’t accept that as the best or only solution. There must be other ways to make the arts come alive for people, like small group discussions led by artists or complementary art forms like film. And what could possibly be more engaging than opportunities to create art right in, or adjacent to, a museum when visitors’ souls and imaginations have been stirred and stoked?

Yes, the way we preserve, view, and appreciate art can and should be modernized and made accessible to more people. But let’s do it in a creative and inspiring way.