Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Now and Zen

I think what I like most about any kind of art is that it’s imperfect, and that’s perfectly okay. Lately I’ve been re-reading some of my old poetry and, all too often, I find myself rolling my eyes and muttering, “Ugh. What absolute dreck!” Oy, the schmaltz. But I also remember how good it felt to write those feelings. To at least try to tame the Creative Beast in my head, and let loose some of the soul gunk.

Sometimes when I wake up in the morning, I look at the things I created the day before, shake my head, and ask (yes, aloud), “Egads, Woman… what were you thinking?!” But I’m okay with that too. I’m okay with that because at the time I was wholly absorbed in what I was doing. I was in a place where nothing else mattered. I really wasn’t thinking… in a good way.

Making any kind of art is so totally Zen that it’s not Zen. It’s a paradox of getting so into the moment that I’m not in the moment at all. Let me see if I can explain that better while trying not to sound completely psychotic in the process, and I don’t promise that I can do either.

Often when I write I feel that I’m the third person in the room. There’s the paper & pen (or screen & keyboard) which is an entity of its own, there’s me doing the scribbling, and (this gives me goosebumps to actually write it), there’s something outside of me (call it a Muse, a god, spirits that have passed, the Creative Beast, whatever) that’s dictating the thing. I’m merely the scribe.

When I play piano, even when I play horribly, I’m always a little astounded that the music is coming from something I’m doing. I look down and see my hands moving, and I hear the sound, and I think, “This is possible? How?” Perhaps it’s because I’ve been playing since I was five years old, so in many ways the keyboard feels like an extension of me. But that’s really not it. That doesn’t capture the feeling of it. When I write music, I could swear it’s beamed in from another world (and anyone hearing my caterwauling might just agree). The point is, it always, always surprises me.

When I make art, whether it’s stamping, painting, sculpting… I get lost in it. I am, by all accounts, totally out there, Dude. Hours go by. Very often when I climb out of the rabbit hole, I look at my work and think, “I did that? Wow.” Even though I’ve been aware, on some level, of doing it. It’s a little bit of feeling mentally disassociated while at the same time feeling completely connected. I know, psychotic, right? But it really doesn’t feel that way.

I know there are others who don’t ever experience this, much less acknowledge “it“ beckoning to them. Granted, it is more than a little… weird. It’s only been recently that I’ve become aware of it in myself, and I’ve been “creative” my whole life. As much as I joke about it, I really do feel that there are Muses at work in my life. This can’t all just come from me, I’m a conduit of some creative collective of artistic lost souls (oh, there, that’s it, that sounded right!). But, you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am humbly grateful and honored to be the conduit. I accept. So, channel away, ye lost artists, ye wandering writers, ye muted musicians… I’m here for you, and I’m thoroughly enjoying the trip.

Zen again… maybe I’m just nuts. Ya think? Well, hey, s’okay by me. One man’s passion is another man’s insanity. But tell me this, what is it in your life that takes you out there? If you don’t know, I recommend you find it. ‘Cause let me tell ya… getting there is all the fun!

You may be right
I may be crazy
Oh, but it just might be a lunatic
You're lookin' for...

~Billy Joel, You May Be Right

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