Buddhists make bad artists or is it the other way around?

I.

Feeling out of sorts yet knowing what he should do, he texts me, partly to whine, partly to ask for advice he won’t take.

“I don’t do that anymore,” I tell him, and as I type the words, I decide it’s true. No more advice, gentle or forceful. No more suggestions. No more answers to questions either explicit or manifestly implied. Figure it out on your own.

Also, no more listening to anyone’s whining.

I make that explicit, too.

“In a mood?” he asks.

“Yes. And I like it. I hope it stays permanent.”

We end up talking about religions, gods, and faith—or lack thereof—will, mindfulness, and discipline—or lack thereof—and the relationship between art and suffering, also the connections between inner discipline, the ability to exist in a place of discomfort, and sex and its permutations.

Much better than him whining and me offering solutions and advice he doesn’t really want, won’t implement.

“So what happened?” he asks after a while. “Advice given gone horribly wrong?”

I’d tell you I shrugged, except we were texting, so, well, I couldn’t.

“I’m in a mood,” I say. Tell him a little more and we return to bigger, more interesting topics.

I won’t tell you what I told him about my mood because A. it’s a boring story and B. I’m done telling it now. Its summary and my take-away is that you can’t save people. I used to have a caveat on that—you can’t save people if they’re not willing to save themselves, but now I’ve struck it. You can’t save people. They have to save themselves.

The only help you (I) can offer… I suppose, really, it’s your (my) presence. I’ve quoted Thich Nhat Hanh’s Mantras of Loving Speech at you before, right? This is the most important one:

I’m here for you.

Except when I realize even that doesn’t help you—and it actually harms me—and then, I’m not.

I’m a terrible Buddhist.

It’s ok. I’m not trying to be a good one, or even an indifferent one.

“You’re a pagan,” he says.

I shake my head. (Well, we’re texting, so I actually write, “No, I don’t think so.”)

“I’m an artist,” I say.

Last week, I purposefully did not write about selfishness versus self-care (and, more importantly, versus self-actualization).

Today I will tell you this: a certain amount of selfishness is critical to physical survival and emotional stability… and to making art.

Not too much. An excess of selfishness makes your art meaningless and self-indulgent—unable to reach people, without resonance… and thus pointless.

Not enough selfishness makes your art… non-existent.

I told you, I’m a terrible Buddhist.

But I’m a practicing and producing artist.

II.

I’m still meditating, twice a day, and laying down in savasana most days.

I’m doing it wrong, because instead of infusing me with boundless compassion, it’s giving me cruel clarity.

And also ramping up my productivity… exponentially.

Like, holy fuck.

So… I don’t actually want to do it right, you know?

;P

xoxo

“Jane”

You might want to re-read this: Meditation for writers, “Mom! I need you!” and struggling to stay on that tightrope (but for fuck’s sake, don’t misconstrue it as advice)

A colourful life

I.

Pop culture rules, according to Flora:

“If you wanna be a pop star, you’ve got to have a rapper friend.”

I think she nailed it, don’t you?

II.

Agriculture, as Ender sees it:

“Wheat is the most important crop, because you need it to make cupcakes. Everyone should grow more cupcakes. And also, popsicles.”

Goddammit. When I wasn’t paying attention, I raised a proponent of the default agricultural-cultural hegemony. Where, oh-where, to start the deprogramming?

III.

Cinder wants to make my life more colourful:

Jane: “What! The! Hell! Did! You! Do! To! The! Toilet!”

Cinder: “I put red food colouring in the toilet tank. See?”

Jane: “OMFG. You’ve dyed the porcelain of our toilet pink.”

Cinder: “Really?”

Jane: “Really. Fuck. I don’t know if bleach will take it out. What were you thinking, baby?”

Cinder: “That it would be pretty?”

Well. That it is.

IV.

So, this just came out of my mouth:

“Just because you don’t understand it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.”

No, I did not just give you an argument for the existence of God. Did I? Fuck. That was not my intent… What I meant was…

You know what? Do with that what you will. I have no control over what happens in your head… Indeed, I don’t understand what happens in there are all…

But that’s okay. I’m a mystery to you too, aren’t I?

Yet we both exist… 😉

V.

The six mantras of loving speech, by Thich Nhat Hanh:

  1. I am here for you.

  2. I know you are there, and I’m happy.

  3. I know you suffer, and that’s why I’m here for you.

  4. I suffer. Please help.

  5. This is a happy moment.

  6. You are partly right.

(The Art of Communicating)‎

VI.

Flora: “You’re going to blog about the pink toilet bowl, aren’t you?

Jane: “How can I not? But I gave you the lead, chickadee. Look.”

Flora: “Ooooh. Cool. Who are you going to close with?”

I think… with Hafez. Sort of.

VII.

This is for you. And you. And you. And her, the one hiding over there, her too:

Those kisses you sent, I found them wandering
around the house. They were acting a little
lost, not knowing exactly where I was.

I was busy upstairs. But now we are all having
tea and talking about you, and wishing you
were here.

And they imparted all you intended. They did
well.

One more thing: I have seen you at your best
and at your worst; still you are always welcome
near me.

Daniel Ladinsky, channeling Hafez

xoxo

“Jane”

photo (71)

Photo: Pimping our ride for Beakerhead (also, messy hands from another art project)! If you live in yyc and environs, you’re Beakerheading this week, right? Right.

Look!

Fragment 1

Her: Look!

Me: No. I don’t wanna.

Her: Look! Come on! How are you going to understand if you don’t look?

That’s the point. I don’t want to understand. If I don’t look, if I don’t see, I don’t have to start to understand. I can stay here, away. On the periphery, full of judgement, empty of compassion.

Her: Look. Please. Look.

I look.

Fragment 2

An on-the-fly-translation of a Rumi poem in response to the burning of a manuscript:

“She said, I set this fire for a reason. Don’t question what you don’t understand.”

But if I don’t question what I don’t understand how the fuck am I ever going to know anything, learn anything?

Her: Look. Just… look…

I look.

Fragment 3

I have not idea what I’m looking at. What I’m looking for, I know. Truth, right? What else do we ever look for?

Truth. Some version thereof.

Flora: Mom? What is truth?

I look at her. I try not to lie.

I suspect I do.

Fragment 4

Look, a quote from Thich Nhat Hanh:

“What happens next depends on you.”

Of course. Always.

Her: What are you going to do?

I look.

xoxo

“Jane”

nbtb-look

This should have a post-script, I think, don’t you? OK. Let’s do it:

You: Fuck, Jane, were you stoned?

Me: Stone sober, beloved. But pensive and playful at the same time. Also, generous. I wanted you to look. Did you?