It is widely known that jazz is America’s only true art form. But let’s just look at music and dance in general — my god — it’s unbelievable the gift we have been able to witness. The Greats have been nameless and thankless. Their courage and creativity are unfathomable to me. Divine and out of this world! It’s beyond words.
In the Mahabharata, Yudhishthira, the son of Dharma and Arjuna’s older brother, has his wisdom put to the test. To restore the lives of his brothers, Yudhisthira must answer a slew of philosophical questions posed by a mystic crane.
One of the questions the crane asks is, “What is the most wondrous thing, the strangest thing?”
Yudhishthira responds, “Every day, all around us, by report, by implication, by direct knowledge, all living things are hurtling towards death, and yet all of us behave as if we’re immortal. It’s the strangest thing.”
The contemporary artist, Janine Antoni.
Her work concentrates on process. Antoni uses her whole body or parts of her body. Including; mouth, hair, eyelashes, and brain as instruments and with them acts out everyday events to generate her artwork.
“I mopped the floor with my hair…The reason I’m so interested in taking my body to those extreme places is that that’s a place where I learn, where I feel most in my body. I’m really interested in the repetition, the discipline, and what happens to me psychologically when I put my body to that extreme place.”
Janine Antoni’s work Loving Care, 1992
She uses her hair as the paintbrush and ‘Loving Care’ hair dye as the paint.
I randomly came across a blog post I wrote on July 18, 2015. In the post I mention two quotes. I’m not going to share them here. It will make this post way too long. Just know that they were by Junot Diaz and David Foster Wallace. For now, I just want to share what I wrote. Because it’s 8 years later and I still feel the same.
Tell the Truth, Tell the Truth
This year the words ‘tell the truth’ have been rolling like waves in my head. Not because I’ve been lying, or have been hiding something, but because I’ve come to a breaking point. My desire after 40 years of life, is not to be brutally honest, but to live compassionately with integrity. Living and feeling compassion first for myself, and then seeing myself in others. It’s interesting that the word Integrity means to be honest, but it also means to be whole, undivided.
Two quotes come to mind. (Wait, I’ll share them in a moment.) Often ideas feel abstract in my mind, but sharing them along with other artists’ work somehow helps to paint a clearer picture (not only for others, but for myself), because it allows me to create a context. I don’t like when my thoughts seem obtuse or isolated. I like them to feel like they are part of a conversation, a universal one, that might not be getting the attention that it deserves.
So quickly, before I share the work of others, I just want to say that telling the truth, for me, simply means to stop f*cking around. I’m getting too old to waste time. I’m getting too old to act like I’m not seeing what is looking me dead in the face. And the words ‘too old’ are not implying that 40 years of age is old. It means, that I have lived enough to know when life is being wasted. It means that I know the difference between an authentic conversation and a superficial one. It means I know the difference between falling asleep with the feeling of ‘Is this all there is?’, versus the feeling of falling asleep with my heart wide open, eager to see what tomorrow brings.
This feeling of wanting to be more authentic and open has been bubbling since I was a child, but only in the last decade has it come to a boiling point. I guess I’ve reached a point where I feel like the only life worth living is the one I have, and it’s only worth living if I make it my own. Making it my own, means to be an honest expression of the life force that I am. The very thing that was born of the unknown cosmos, manifesting through a, seemingly knowable, human form.
I’ll stop there. Today’s post is really only a feeling. I’m just sharing a feeling.
“There is nothing else than now. There is neither yesterday, certainly, nor is there any tomorrow. How old must you be before you know that?“
“Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”
Quotes by Ernest Hemingway
“Death is the only wise advisor that we have. Whenever you feel that everything is going wrong and you’re about to be annihilated, turn to your death and ask if that is so. Your death will tell you that you’re wrong; that nothing really matters outside its touch. Your death will tell you, ‘I haven’t touched you yet.”
“Forget the self and you will fear nothing, in whatever level or awareness you find yourself to be.”
Quotes by Carlos Castaneda
“Be anchored in fearlessness. What is worldly life but fear?“
“How many lives are frittered away, age after age, in endless coming and going. Find out who you are!”
“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man’s-land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again.”
Quote by Pema Chödrön
“A bird is safe in its nest – but that is not what its wings are made for.”
“Burying and planting. The culmination of one love, one dream, one self, is the anonymous seed of the next. There is very little difference between burying and planting. For often, we need to put dead things to rest, so that new life can grow. And further, the thing put to rest—whether it be a loved one, a dream, or a false way of seeing—becomes the fertilizer for the life about to form. As the well-used thing joins with the earth, the old love fertilizes the new; the broken dream fertilizes the dream yet conceived; the painful way of being that strapped us to the world fertilizes the freer inner stance about to unfold. This is very helpful when considering the many forms of self we inhabit over a lifetime. One self carries us to the extent of its usefulness and dies. We are then forced to put that once beloved skin to rest, to join it with the ground of spirit from which it came, so it may fertilize the next skin of self that will carry us into tomorrow. There is always grief for what is lost and always surprise at what is to be born. But much of our pain in living comes from wearing a dead and useless skin, refusing to put it to rest, or from burying such things with the intent of hiding them rather than relinquishing them. For every new way of being, there is a failed attempt mulching beneath the tongue. For every sprig that breaks surface, there is an old stick stirring underground. For every moment of joy sprouting, there is a new moment of struggle taking root. We live, embrace, and put to rest our dearest things, including how we see ourselves, so we can resurrect our lives anew.”