To Be or not to Be…art is the answer.

To Be or not to Be…art is the answer.

 

Being an artist has nothing to do with your level of education or your ability to be paid for your work. Being an artist is about how you think, how you feel, how you express. It has to do with the way you see the world, the way a sunset or the glimmer in a child’s eye, or disaster or the tragic death of a young person can make you feel the infinite extremes of opposing emotions. It has to do with your willingness to create, to discover, to mold, learn, grow and change. It has to do with a survival need to create.

For me–art is about a constant need to find the good in the world, to find beauty where there is pain and to see possibility where there is no hope. I seek these things through my vision and expression because half of my mind wants to die and the other half desperately wants to show it there’s a reason to live. For me–art is literally my life. It is how I think and feel and exist. It has never not been present. It has always been around me in the form of my interpretation of the world in which I live. It’s hard to recognize it sometimes but it is always there. Art is something I need for ME. Any sharing of that expression with others may be beneficial for them, but even that is for me. I need art. I need it in my life and I need it in my mind. I can’t breathe when I deny myself the opportunity to see the entire world as an active work of artistic creation and expression which is constantly being molded and changed by everything in existence.

We are all artists and creators–making an impact and an expressive change to everything we come in contact with. I think it’s just that many people are afraid to recognize themselves as an artist or a creator. But art is not about any one medium–painting, singing, Crochet–making you money. It is about your willingness to see that you, too, are a creator of worlds simply because you exist in this one.

Choosing to recognize this in myself has been very difficult–and continues to be. But with it comes direction and purpose. It’s not an easy path for sure–but I couldn’t deny it if I wanted to. (Trust me, I’ve tried.)

To be an artist in practice is to be a constant student of the universe. Always seeking a deeper understanding of your medium or purpose or expression. Always becoming a little better, and never putting your discovery on a timeline. I do not wish to master anything, per se, but to continue the spiral of learning, finding more and deeper ways to express the miracles of existence within certain mediums. There’s no hurry. The discoveries are infinite. Being an artist isn’t a mountain you suddenly reach the top of and know you’re there and never leaving. Being an artist is 100% about the process of creation. The process is more important than the end–for us. And by focusing on the process and creating for the sake of creation, you assure there is no end to what you can learn to express.

Being an artist has nothing to do with your level of education or your ability to be paid for your work. Being an artist is about how you think, how you feel, how you express. It has to do with the way you see the world, the way a sunset or the glimmer in a child’s eye, or disaster or the tragic death of a young person can make you feel the infinite extremes of opposing emotions. It has to do with your willingness to create, to discover, to mold, learn, grow and change. It has to do with a survival need to create.

For me–art is about a constant need to find the good in the world, to find beauty where there is pain and to see possibility where there is no hope. I seek these things through my vision and expression because half of my mind wants to die and the other half desperately wants to show it there’s a reason to live. For me–art is literally my life. It is how I think and feel and exist. It has never not been present. It has always been around me in the form of my interpretation of the world in which I live. It’s hard to recognize it sometimes but it is always there. Art is something I need for ME. Any sharing of that expression with others may be beneficial for them, but even that is for me. I need art. I need it in my life and I need it in my mind. I can’t breathe when I deny myself the opportunity to see the entire world as an active work of artistic creation and expression which is constantly being molded and changed by everything in existence.

We are all artists and creators–making an impact and an expressive change to everything we come in contact with. I think it’s just that many people are afraid to recognize themselves as an artist or a creator. But art is not about any one medium–painting, singing, Crochet–making you money. It is about your willingness to see that you, too, are a creator of worlds simply because you exist in this one.

Choosing to recognize this in myself has been very difficult–and continues to be. But with it comes direction and purpose. It’s not an easy path for sure–but I couldn’t deny it if I wanted to. Trust me, I’ve tried. I don’t have a choice. The severity of my need for creation combined with my great aversion to people, drama, and responsibility over other human lives makes it so my only coping means of creation is self expression onto inanimate mediums. There is no question for me of whether or not I can live this life without art. I live this life as an artist or not at all. To be or not to be may be the question, but for me the answer is art and creation.

To be an artist, in practice, is to be a constant student of the universe. Always seeking a deeper understanding of your medium or purpose or expression. Always becoming a little better, and never putting your discovery on a timeline. I do not wish to master anything, per se, but to continue the spiral of learning, finding more and deeper ways to express the miracles of existence within certain mediums. The mediums are a projection of my inner experience. Truly–I am art and through my expression I am creating myself.

There’s no hurry. The discoveries are infinite. The more I discover about myself and the universe, the more I have to discover. Being an artist isn’t a mountain you suddenly reach the top of and know you’re there and never leaving. Being an artist is 100% about the process of creation. The process is more important than the end–for us. And by focusing on the process and creating for the sake of creation, you assure there is no end to what you can learn to express.

Fire and Ash Remains

Fire and Ash Remains

I couldn’t stand up,
You weighed on me so heavy.
So I just stayed down
To wait until I was ready.

The strain of your love
Wasn’t something I could levy
So I blame your “love”
For the fact that I’m not steady.

You lit up my world,
But the whole thing caught flame.
For me it was real,
For you–just a game.

You left me on fire,
My anger to hold alone.
You thought I’d expire,
But now I call the fire “home”.

I adapted and survived,
Though for a time I turned to stone.
Now I’m made of fire and thrive
From the inferno of my mind’s catacomb.

No reality could have prepared me
For this life living inside these flames,
But from all of the lives I have lived before,
Only fire and ash remains.

-Rachel Blair

Desperation

So much of what I do seems desperate
And I trick myself, it’s fine.
But when it becomes time to rest it
Desperation comes back to my mind.

My mind is fearing, I’m crippled
By doubt and insecurity.
The effects of which have rippled
And my person is wracked with dis-ease.

To attempt to make sense of this madness
I construct theories from thoughts I’ve mined,
The ends of which is infinite sadness
When the conclusion is all that I find.

So back to this desperation
Which spins me around and around
And seeks for, but fails full formation
Of fair trees grown in solid ground.

I believe its a calling for journey,
For travel and experience.
A trip at which I’ve just hit the entry.
A future that is much more mysterious.

-Rachel Blair

I never wanted to be Her.

I never wanted to be Her.

I never wanted to be the Her you spoke of crudely.
I only ever wanted your love.
But you spoke to who I was so rudely
And it stifled what I am made of.

I never wanted to be a man-hating feminist.
You spoke about them like they were dirt.
But if you hadn’t always been such a misogynist,
my perception of men would be so hurt.

I never wanted to be your failure,
just my own heart’s seeker for success.
But expectations made me quiver,
and now passion, I feel less and less.

I never wanted to be a disgrace,
reminding you of your darkest hour.
But when I look into your face
I see decades of greed seeking power.

I never wanted to be an outsider–
speaking out against the crowd.
Now I’ve become a freedom writer,
Braver than ever, strong and loud.

I never wanted to be Her–
the girl you spoke of with such distain.
You challenged me, but couldn’t conquer,
though your attempts left me in horrendous pain.

You stomped out all my truth,
and planted lies inside my brain.
But that Girl was never my enemy,
and from Her, a divine woman will remain.

-Rachel Blair

 

Our New Tower of Babel

Our New Tower of Babel

11 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward,[a] they found a plain in Shinar[b] and settled there.

They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building.The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel[c]—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

-The Bible, New International Version

The story of Babel is a pretty straight forward anecdote, it seems. This story depicts how God confused humans with language to keep them from being able to reach the kingdom of heaven. This story was always simplified to me as the creation of different languages.

Its interesting, because the entire point of the Bible is so that people can eventually create a relationship with God and reach the kingdom of heaven through that relationship, through faith, through hope–through love. However, the point of this anecdote, I believe, is that we cannot reach the kingdom of heaven externally, and though we can encourage each other, we each need to find Heaven on our own through an inner journey.

Depending on your personal theology, Heaven could be a place you go when you die, or a place you know when you’re living. It could be the place where you sit eternally in the right hand of the father God, or it could be finding a peaceful state of mind in your everyday life to ease the suffering of existential living. It could be the completion of a cycle of Samsara, it could be enlightenment, it could be empathy and understanding. It could simply be inner-Love, leading to inner-peace.

Regardless of your personal ideas of Heaven, the successful means to achieving it is through inward reflection–not through outward achievement. Religion calls it prayer and meditation–developing and deepening your relationship with God, Goddess, Jesus, Buddha, Nature, self, the Universe– whoever or whatever you see as divine and unconditional Love. Psychology calls it mindfulness and credits it to calming the mind of its constant rotating function and slowing the function of the body to lessen stress and turmoil. Either way, it is achieved through making an individual and conscious choice to turn inward. It is a choice made by the one who will experience it and it is a choice made in the moment it is needed, which for some is constant.

What I find interesting is the evolution of these biblical anecdotes to fit our modern understanding. Nowadays, the issue they faced in the story of Babel is not an issue. We have learned to bridge the gap of languages. So, if we were to take this story literally, it might prove to show that we could reach the Heavens through combined intellect and group work. However, we know that sky scrapers and airplanes have not gotten us there. We know that space exploration has not gotten us there. We have far exceeded the attempt of the men of Babel to reach the kingdom of Heaven, and yet as a whole we know God, or divine Love, less than ever in many ways.

I think this story has its own evolution, and as we evolve and grown as a species it is important to recognize how this anecdote is relevant to us. I believe that, societally and individually, as our understanding grows there is still always something which keeps us from concretely knowing the great mysteries of the universe. There is always more to know and learn. This brings to mind the question–what is our barrier beyond language, and beyond that?

I believe that once we overcome the confusion of world languages, the next factor of confusion is a different type of language. This is the language of understanding. Now, the differences between English, Spanish, Italian, Tagalog, Japanese, etc. are difficult, but not impossible barriers to overcome. However, within those languages, we speak many other languages linked to our personal understandings of the realities we individually and collectively experience.

Religious dogmas from many different origins have great similarities in their message, in their concept of divinity, in the means to getting there. The thing that keeps us from collectively bringing our thoughts together at that point is this difference in truths and our inability to acknowledge there is more than one way of living a divine life, there is more than one way to develop a lasting relationship with the Love in ourselves and the universe.

For example, Christians often talk about The Truth, The Way. Traditional Christianity believes their means of finding God, their understanding of God, is the only one. So, while many Christians might be incredibly tolerant of other religions, they do not believe that what they have found and what another enlightened person has found are the same thing.

I have a dear friend who is Christian and tell me all about the many ways in which God speaks to her. When I tell her the many ways in which the Universe speaks to me, she discredits them as demonic and ungodly. Not because they are unlike the messages she is receiving, but because I believe the messages are coming from the Universal Divine and she believes hers are coming from God through Jesus.

We are all saying the same things. Almost all the time.

The most important messages which lie underneath every dogma are universal. Unconditional love. Forgiveness. Compassion. Charity. Grace. Faith. Trust. Hope.

These are the universal messages because they are necessities for our being–no mater what you believe yourself to be made of. My soul needs Grace, Faith, Hope, Trust, and Love. My mind needs forgiveness, compassion, charity, and empathy. My being as a whole relies on these things as much as it relies on food and water. The Human Condition is the undeniable craving we have for these things, and all beliefs seek to fulfill that need.

I believe the current “Tower of Babel” is this; we are building up our own beliefs and our own philosophies at the cost and expense of others’. We are allowing some religions to control others, some beliefs to dominate the world. Each dogma is building its own fortress of infrastructure with its beliefs–manipulating gospels to withstand the storms of time. But the pieces of the gospel that withstand the storms of change hold greater strength than the messages which need manipulation.

I think, throughout history, the need to gain a following for any one dogma has been partially motivated by the need to validate the inner experience. It is a task to validate one’s inner experience as real–as it is an abstract experience. So when we have a spiritual awakening, or a moment of clarity, or a conversation with God, or a sensation of love all around us, we need to tell someone about it and have them agree enough to validate, in a more tangible way, that the abstract experience we are having is real. The whole point of seeking that relationship internally is that is shouldn’t matter whether or not we have other people’s validation. Our experiences are real simply because we are experiencing them. It doesn’t matter that they’re not universal experiences of our shared reality. It doesn’t matter if the means by which you experience the divine is different than someone else’s, so long as it is pure and good and brings you peace.

Currently, the forces that be (God, Universe, etc.) are challenging us to see beyond separatism. The current state of our world is showing us the demonic powers of control, greed, fear, hate and individualism. God is tearing down our towers–every single one of them.

We are being reminded that no external power is as strong as the limitless potential that lies within each of us.

The Kingdom of Heaven (or whatever eternal peace you seek) cannot be reached externally, and it is not reached in only one manner. It must be reached internally, and the journey must be made alone. Each individual’s understanding of “God” will be as unique as the person themselves. Their understanding and path to Love will be a comforting collection of wisdom from their own experiences, influences, history, ancestry, and mental/emotional capacity.

If we are able to accept our differences, not as a threat to our identity and sense of reality, but as a difference of experiences and perceptions of reality, then we can bridge the gaps that currently divide our planet currently. We could empathize without ego. We could find purpose without false pride. We could collectively grow as a civilization, rather than watching the privileged defaults of our society constantly win at the expense of the “others”.

I believe the religion of the future will be much like some, less known dogmas have been in the past. It will not be one collective religion, but rather a collective understanding that all beliefs are equal so long as they focus around internal reflection, love, forgiveness, and the other universal messages which have withstood the storms of time in every religion and dogma. For these are the elements of existence which do not hold back or condemn any one group, but which allow us to peacefully coexist without the need to shine brighter or bigger than any other living being.

Every person should, essentially, be taught a variety of beliefs from which they can assemble their own toolkit for connecting with divinity. Some methods will work better for certain people than other methods–and that should be ok. It should certainly not be a means of persecution or isolation–so long as it doesn’t harm or take away freedoms from others.

If we can overcome this modern Tower of Babel and recognize that every being is divine, no matter how they seek it, we will be able to empathize, love, and coexist more peacefully–which will bring us closer to the kingdom of heaven–collectively–then we have ever been before.

The journey must be made alone. Divinity is found, first and foremost, within the Self.

 

 

 

A Narcissist Survivor’s Serenade

A Narcissist Survivor’s Serenade

Woe to abusers who claim innocence
and their victims who own the blame.
A paradox of such friction and dissonance,
this relationship has a name.
For one of these is a narcissist,
the other thinks they’re the same.
But the one who lies in the dark abyss
must bring others down to their plain.

You won’t know how to apologize,
if you ever even knew you were wrong.
The pain that hides deep behind your eyes
will be expressed through my endless song.
You couldn’t overcome, and you couldn’t rise,
so you created in me, a dying swan.
Your ego attempted to colonize,
and you’ll always think YOU moved along.

But I made the choice, and I left you there,
I’m healing, starting fresh, completely bare.
The things you did, they were not fair.
They tore me to ashes, alone and scared.
But my ashes ember in a deadly stare.
This wasn’t your work, don’t you even dare
act like you came in my life and answered a prayer.
Without you, I’d be where I deserve, I swear.

You bastard, you should live in the hell you made.
You created it for others when you were afraid.
Stop projecting your self hatred, here’s the blade.
Do your work, cut your own cord, give yourself a grade.
The lack of equality and empathy you displayed
was a testament to us, and still, you get paid.
This last song I sing for you in the bed you laid
is a narcissist’s love song–a Survivor’s serenade.

SF Botanical Magic

SF Botanical Magic

I made it up to San Francisco this past June for the Pride celebration. I love SF. The first time I went was the Summer before eighth grade (Or maybe it was the summer after). I had protested the war in Iraq on a Hemet Street Corner (this was before my brother went to fight in that war) and decided I was akin to the Hippies of the 1960s. I desperately wanted to see the Haight, to visit a place that was historically crawling with people who believed in Love.

I made my parents take me as soon as we checked into our hotel, which we did after 8 hours of driving. We didn’t make it to the Haight until about 10pm, but still they took me. My father had been taken on a similar trip when he was that age by his own parents. He went during the Summer of Love though. The Haight-Ashbury he had seen was very different from the one I saw, but still somehow the same, I’m sure.

I remember seeing people, homeless 20-somethings, asking passersby for money, smoking pot near the front of a closed store. I remember going to a coffee shop full of those angel-headed hipsters I secretly related to so much. I remember walking by a few bars. Nothing of particular interest, but still the place itself captured me. We went back the next day to see it in the daylight. It was just as wonderful. As a 12 year old, there was much more for me to do there during the day. We went into shops, tourist-hippy boutiques and record stores.

From that first experience, I was enchanted by the city. I returned again in high school with a choir, then my best friend moved there for university and I visited her every year. I’ve never had an uneventful trip.

This most recent trip was no exception. It was a trip, a journey, a growing experience, a vacation. I made new friends, reunited with old friends, and of course reconnected with my soul sister. On my last day in the city, we went to the Botanical Garden. Neither of us had ever been before, even though she has lived a few miles from it for the bigger chunk of a decade.

It was magical–just as captivating as every other little piece of that city I’ve experienced through the years. San Francisco truly has a piece of my heart. I treasure, so dearly, every person I’ve met, place I’ve been and memory I’ve made. San Francisco–my home away from home. The place I’ve gone to leave my life and find my Self since I was young.

I wanted to share some photos from the Botanical Gardens. Little blooming miracles, overgrown magic portals, and nature’s reflective wisdom.