Lately I’ve not been finding too many friends in history. After the November elections I wanted to write about how much better it used to be.
I did some research, looked up Aristotle, Copernicus, a few golden ages and a renaissance or two only to find a lot of human foibles expressed and not as much wisdom as I was hoping to find.
In fact I found that we are better today. I also know that we do not always hear or know about all the small acts of courage, the gentle touch, the passing of a smile, a clear and profound desire for clarity.
These can escape with the deadline, the editor’s knife, the eye of the beholder.
You and I, we are stuck here and now. In the moment. What to do, what to do?
I started by taking my eyes off the past and giving the present a look. My dogs Sadie and Georgi and Henri are very helpful. Guinnie is downstairs on her bed and is fine in this present. But the moment I look around the other three stand up and see me back. I keep my focus on the present and notice how beautiful each one is. Eyes of love could not have better representation.
I notice there is heat on a cold day, light when it’s dark out and my chair supports me well enough. I love my pens and the feel of my paper, there is a linoleum stamp empty of design waiting for me on my desk. Water for tea is available and I have made coffee. These days may have shortness of light compared to other days and that will change. Things always do. I didn’t do anything to make the day appear. It did as it must. I haven’t thought of my breath for at least a half hour, and that too comes to me without struggle for which I have much gratitude.
So, nevermind history. I love Aristotle but I can leave him be for now. And George Herbert and Marie Curie and anyone else I need to re member can be had on Google or with my library card.
I’m good. It’s a good day. Leading into a good month and with some consciousness directed at what’s right in my world, I can make it a good year.
I’ve been out campaigning, going to people’s homes and calling them. They and I are likely – very likely – to be nervous and at least a little defensive.
What do you want? In your life? From your surroundings?
If I were to ask you that, even if I were to put it more mildly; “What are your concerns? Do you have questions for my candidate?” In my experience, no one wants to put themselves on the line. “I care about health care. I don’t have insurance and I don’t know what to do. My electric bill is too high. My road needs paving. My kid’s school buses are unsafe. Are gas prices going up?” Sometimes you don’t even know what there is to want.
Do you know that the people you elect to the legislature of your state, whether you vote or not, whether you care or not are responsible for the environment in which you live? If it’s hard to vote because you’re black or Hispanic, if the schools in your area allow your girls to play sports or your boy who dresses funny to come to school (and support him while he’s there), or even if you go to the police station thinking you’ll get help and you don’t – these are the policies put into place by the commissioners, judges, senators, and treasurers you have put in place.
Sometimes they are there because you didn’t vote. Maybe it was a mid-term election, or “just” a town or county election and you thought you’d do something else. Sometimes you don’t know who to vote for, who would/could serve your interest and you didn’t/wouldn’t/couldn’t go to the polls because . . .
Every person elected to government – local and national – makes decisions for all of us every day, including weekends sometimes. They bring integrity or deception, they take away and they give. Every single one of them has gotten where they are by a few votes.
Know what you want? Have a complaint? Speak up and out. VOTE!
Oh, and I’m not doing much art because I’m out making calls and knocking on doors. You can leave me a message or come to the polls where I’ll be working on Nov 6th.
What we do every day defines us. Thoughts, actions, intentions and avoidance (it’s an action, but an important one and I wanted to give it its full valence); are the mark of us. Do we see ourselves? Would we recognize our description from someone else’s mouth/mind?
We are saying “Happy New Year” a lot right now and my Vipassna teacher Narayan Liebenson says, “Happy New Moment.” Which she can say any time. Which is when we can give ourself a wish or a boost for the new life we are uncovering in this moment and every other.
Can we be serious about that? Can we forgive ourself enough to get to the next moment without falling backward? I work in paint and different colors allow me to show the history of the painting or obliterate it. I wish for my mind to be like my paper or canvas. Every moment a choice to bring history to light or let it go. Every moment to bring the color of acceptance, concealment, ambiguity or awakening of that color on that substrate/paper/form.
If I threw away each piece that did not work for me in that moment I wouldn’t be able to paint for long. If I allow myself to come back to it perhaps I will see something else. I will be different and so will it. I have to let go of being “sure” of it – whatever that means. If I don’t like anything or like everything I cannot let my expectation of good or ill overpower what I paint or allow it to direct me.
For me this new moment of painting has to be planned in that it needs space in my life, but the outcome has to remain a mystery. I cannot plan to make a master piece and remain open to the magic or gloom of the next moment – which will bring me who knows where which is where I want to be.
The point of meditation is not meditation. The point of time management is not about time. Time doesn’t exist, it’s a synthetic device or tool that we use as a bludgeon to one and all. The worst “one” we put it on is ourself, the very person we are supposedly “helping!”
You might or might not have a habit of beating yourself up about not getting enough done, not being enough or, perhaps when you look on FaceBook, feeling insufficient and insecure. Over what? Is there a list of what’s makes a “good person,” or a “productive person?” Of course there is! And it’s made up by you!
Making things up is great. It’s what we love about movies and books, sports and plays, business and politics. As an artist, I make up stuff all the time. What I make up that isn’t so helpful is different. It starts in my mind. Every cell in my body has what we call mind in it. I notice thoughts and actions I generate have a widely, vastly different origination. What I use to beat myself up or what’s telling me I need more of something is conceived in a vastly different location in my body from where I get the vision for my next painting.
So what’s the point? Well, the point may be different for each of us. What is your passion may or may not coincide with mine. But if we are both playing out our passions then we will have commonality and something to share with each other. That’s a point. If we are living our lives in a coherent way that can satisfy many of our most important hopes and dreams, well, then we have another point in common and we have something to talk about.
If we are treating our bodies with respect and gratitude, as well as those bodies of others’ – then we won’t have any fear of each other. Why would we? There isn’t much to argue about if we position ourselves for love and acceptance. There are so many studies done showing how we as children embrace the new, expect success and accept difference – until we get a bit older. Then we say, “reality kicks in.” What’s the point of that? Give yourself a star for doing something you consider good and beneficial. Don’t listen to hate, you can’t help hearing it but you can stop reacting to it. Color something. Draw something. Look at art. Take it in. That’s what we are here for – to give beauty a chance and a featured place in your life. Moving your body changes your mind!
That’s the Point. Do it!
How does a flower grow?
The above photo is a Passion Flower, it arrived in a plastic bucket at my house some years ago. I thought, “cool, passion. let’s see what it brings.” At the time I was thinking that passion could get in the way if it was too strong. Sometimes my double-Aries self gets in my way and I over-think it as passion. But it isn’t. It’s just me being bull-headed.
Where I live a Passion Flower is an annual. In more southerly climes it can be perennial. It has a lot of flexibility and adapts to its environment – to a certain extent. It is always a Passion Flower nonetheless.
This particular flower spent the summer blissed into constant bloom. I found its ability to keep going admirable and thought about all of our abilities to bloom – constantly or not. I didn’t fetter it in any way, although I gave it some guidelines, which were followed. Watching it softened me and it felt as if it helped me hold myself with compassion as I saw it moving up the trellis. Compassion will awaken the heart and action can come from that opening. I am reminded of the story of the sun and the wind vying to get a man to remove his coat. You know who won. That’s what I experienced with the summer’s passion. Nurtured by the sun and some water, it kept going, growing beyond expectation. Willingness to nurture yourself is guaranteed to motivate, it is intrinsic to our nature. Just like the Passion Flower.
If I said to you, “Art is a transformative experience. Once you relate to it, you will be forever changed.” You might not be so willing to look and you might lean harder on the color of your walls and sofa and maybe a decorator to pick out what looks “best” in your home,
I get it. I’ve stood outside on beautiful days, art displayed, and seen people avoid eye contact or get really interested in how I did “that.” Attitudes people take on in defense of art – or anything – don’t change the facts. Art is transformative. It will change your life. It will take you to places you haven’t been, perhaps without your knowing it. It will stretch you and teach you and uplift you and give you a place to put your feelings. All of them.
Art in this case is like everything else. Is there a part of your life that doesn’t transform you? There isn’t. It’s up to you to find the nudge of transformation in your life – your everyday life, your travel life, your job life, your parenting/partnering life. You know what I mean. That’s why people like Ralph Waldo Emerson spend so much thought on acceptance – and embrace – of the “new.”
The new is merely the now. (I said that!)
Emerson considers resistance:
“Every ultimate fact is only the first of a new series. … The new statement is always hated by the old, and, to those dwelling in the old, comes like an abyss of skepticism.”
Ah, I wish I’d said “abyss of skepticism.”
If we take this moment we’re in right now – yes, this one. Just this. If we wrap it in the attunement of appreciation, then we must allow its presence, its attitudes, its perseverance; and we will be transported to the next and the next moments and we will be the elements of change that we are looking for, we will.
Now I will lead you to a newness that is mine. I have been putting together the cells and DNA of my art into the format of a new site.
Pamwhiteart.com will lead you anew to my art. Some you may know, some you may discover new. Any way, either way, there it is. I welcome your feedback, your critique, your kindness.
Is as subjective as you can imagine.
American physicist Richard Feynman (1918 – 1988) commented on the puzzles and paradoxes of quantum mechanics, “ I cannot define the problem, therefore I suspect there’s no real problem, but I’m not sure there’s no problem.”
The subject of consciousness is all around us, and it reminds me of when I was growing in the mid-west in the Eisenhower years. Joe McCarthy was on his hunt for communists, questioning everyone’s loyalty to this country. His henchman and chief explainer was Roy Cohn, soon to be mentor of the young DJT.
McCarthy addressed the Senate making a list of outright lying claims and alternative facts which – after much tortuous equivocating, which cost lives, reputations, and livelihoods – were rejected by most and clung to by one Richard Nixon – among others – who saw opportunity in the making.
What consciousness is is not only not clear, it has forced many an illusion and conclusion. How, after all, can what we cannot define be defined. Prizes and papers are won and written for the palpable. Feynman was one of the few who dared – in his time – to express the inexpressible.
In his experiments with paths of quantum particles and their relationship with choice – to be a wave or a particle, for one example – the Hungarian physicist Eugene Wigner wrote: “It follows that the quantum description of objects is influenced by impressions entering my consciousness. Solipsism may be logically consistent with present quantum mechanics.”
You can see where I’m going with this. I have to think this time we are in has been our collective creation. Much as a cancer can take decades to show its invasion, “here we are,” always has a massive and complex history. Whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever you are doing or thinking is of tantamout importance. You are a vital piece of the puzzle we call the world or the universe and of consciousness itself.
What you are doing makes a difference. What you are feeling makes a difference. Your intention, your focus is titanic to your health and the health of all of us.
“As above, so below,” ancient wisdom/truth, tells me I am influenced by the quantum field as well. We all receive thoughts in the form of ideas, philosophies, needs – all expression – and we all influence.
So let’s step into this wholeheartedly. Let’s get to know our force. Who we are. What we think – when no one’s looking. Let’s go where we will go – for we will go somewhere, make it real.
If we are solipsism itself, let us be really good at who we are. If the world is bouncing off each one of us, let’s be the self we are. Step into you, I’ll step into me. And here’s the article from the BBC that started this riff!
At the Womens March this January, the word intersectional
was widely visible.
Google gave me this: “Intersectionality (or intersectional theory) is a term first coined in 1989 by American civil rights advocate and leading scholar of critical race theory, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw. It is the study of overlapping or intersecting social identities and related systems of oppression, domination, or discrimination.”
I believe this focus allowed men, women, children, dogs (I saw no cats) of all ages and sizes, economic interests and everyone who wanted to be represented there to be there. It was the most harmonious experience I have ever known; there truly was room for us all.
This mood/feeling was not active during the election. I saw in the young man’s rejection of Hillary (I mentioned yesterday) the cry for separation. Devotion to separation, to the isolation of our own type or group identity was the Cri De Coeur during the interminable period leading up to the vote last year. By the time we voted, we were ready to kill one another.
Last year wasn’t so much about age as attitude. The delicious taste of freedom to hate, to blame, to say things that hadn’t been said “for eight years.” To take ourselves to such an extreme focus as not to see anything else.
We must seek a better outcome. To be here in this human body, on this earth plane is to seek wholeness and the more we include, the better off we are. We depend on the tree, the bee, the lion and all who show up here. There is nothing among us expendable or valueless. Please join me in listening to the originator of this most useful word. Let Kimberle Williams Crenshaw speak from her Ted Talk to all our hearts.
In reading and listening to a LOT of journalists and callers in, I want to propose the real reason people couldn’t vote for Hillary.
And yes, I just heard it.
I was listening to a young congressman from California field calls on NPR. One of his callers said – pointedly – “I am resigning from the Democratic party.”
And, as I was thinking, “so what,” he said why.
Which was the Democrats’ old-fashioned political stance had turned him off. It was all the same, he said, nothing new. He did like Bernie, though, and the congressman – somewhat taken aback said,” wait a minute, you like the oldest person who ran for president?”
Yes. It was not the age, so much, as the attitude. Apparently the caller had been nearby when Bernie was asked to have a photo taken with Snapchat. Bernie had smiled into the camera and said, “Hello Snap Shot!”
Now, what got the guy onboard with Bernie was this: when asked if he would take the photo over again because he had said the name wrong, Bernie said, “no, just leave it.”
That was enough to hook this millennial.
OK What’s my point.
It wasn’t that Hillary’s gender was an issue so much as what her training and history as a woman has led her to be. Think secretive and not forthcoming – yes, I see the redundancy.
Now you can say – my mother would have said Poo Poo – whatever you think, but in my experience of being a woman a little longer than Hillary and not being in a fraction of the light and focus that she has experienced – there is no way I wouldn’t have been able to second guess myself if someone asked “should we take that over.”
That would have been enough for me to question my whole existence. Now, Hillary didn’t get there and wouldn’t have got there with a thin skin. But her skin was thinner than Bernie’s and her mind was swayed to listen to advice he probably doesn’t even think about. And I think that advice lost her a lot of points. It’s not just women, btw, because I found the same thing was true with John Kerry. You could waffle him easily enough. (How could anyone have made him not a war-hero? #despicable #deplorable)
Younger women don’t have that vulnerability. And we are getting some depth of womanhood, thanks to strong women and men who were and are willing to take a chance.
Oh, and can I remind you of how Hillary was treated in the debates? Either this past year or in 2008. Misogynists unite whenever they get a chance, and they are not always men.
In my small bucolic New England town sitting at the foot of rounded tree-filled mounds of earth we call mountains, I am nestled in the valley of the Housatonic with my fellows. Humans are not necessarily the majority of inhabitants here, although they claim to be in charge.
Some of us have been here a long time and some of us have been here longer. Personally I don’t think it makes a lot of difference. My own history in this place where I live now is very brief – I just moved in a year ago. Before that I was somewhere else I hadn’t lived long in and before that the same. I have always been welcomed as a native although that is hardly the case. Before my ancestors came here, they were some place else. Who can say otherwise?
It happens that here, where I live now, there are many we call Hispanic, they have been here far longer than I. They might have moved here, as I did, recently or years ago but they are only called Hispanic because the country I call mine invaded their country and won.
For some reason, perhaps because of the might of Teddy Rooseveldt and others, I do not call myself English-German-Dutch-French-Irish American, nor do I have to fill out forms or be counted as anything much. Demographics in this country have largely confined themselves to my gender and my politics, neither of which I have to explore to any degree.
I once did live in a place – Concord, MA, with three small, quiet rivers surrounding and running through my environs. It was only when they flooded and I had to drive thirty or forty minutes to get to a destination five minutes away that I noticed their existence. Time is relative until it isn’t and now the people I work with who far outdate my contribution to this area are being threatened. If not they themselves, their relatives, friends – you know what I mean.
Living here has become very stressful, we are being raided and rounded up. I used to ask my mother, “What did you think when you heard about the pogroms? About the raids? About the trains? What did you do? How did you act? What did it feel like?”
Her reply, like many of her answers to other questions, was more than disappointing. She didn’t know – about anything. She didn’t know what to do and she didn’t ask. In fact in her life she didn’t feel safe emotionally, I know that colored her heart. And she felt she had made her mark, made her life, even though she felt vulnerable in it as a woman. In truth if she had set herself free with her opinions and desires, she would have been shunned, pushed aside. She was pushed aside anyway and she didn’t invite more. It also wasn’t happening “here.”
Now it is. When Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) is pushed out of a meeting of his peers in the House of Representatives, we are in trouble. When my friends are rounded up all over the country –including the ones I know along this corridor between CT and NY – I am afraid.
Now is the time. This is on us.
People talk of Hitler and his ilk. They only mean they ones we know – Papa Doc, Idi Amin, Pol Pot – to touch the surface. But these days, this month, has caused me to think there are many Hitlers. We are surrounded. I asked a friend who lives in VT and has gone to Canada for decades – weekends visiting friends. She says that after this election when she comes back, they hassel her, take her phone, keep her and her husband pulled over. I asked after the tone of her interaction, what was on the minds of these agents who had been quiescent for decades. How could one person’s voice give them this power, this drive? Did she think they had been waiting for the chance? She thought it was that they could. Now, it was supported, they could be kings, they had a mission. That simple.
In such a simple world, I find simplicity too.