Apologies in advance for any typos...I'm uploading this after very long bus-train journey...
So I survived the Christmas season, hurray! Now on the way back to NYC and contemplating what to do for New Year. I know I’m not into a big party, wanting something contemplative…feeling a deep need to connect. May go to a Tibetan Buddhist retreat in NYC. Not sure, but I like the idea of a retreat that includes the city, because that’s how I experience it and I also don’t want to leave my poor cat again.
Jan. 7 is looming as well, which is the second anniversary of my father’s death, which was probably one of the biggest turning points in my life. Last year I was working like a lunatic on a doomed Arts Council England proposal so managed to workaholic-it. That’s not an option this year. Well, of course it’s an option but not one I want to take. The meditation retreat can go all the way through to the 7th, which seems somewhat auspicious to me, all except for the I’m not really a Tibetan Buddhist part.
I’m really not an –ist in general, so that’s always the issue. On the other hand, there are some interesting sounding things about the teaching, so not sure…obviously, you will know which way I go on that eventually.
The important part is this: I know I want to connect with my deepest self. I know it’s there and all deconstructionist tropes aside, I believe in it. Not in the sense of a ‘character’ with delineated traits, etc., but in the roiling molecular vibrating energy that exists and when I tap into it, through my writing, art, theater, meditation, yoga, meetings, etc., I feel better. What I don’t know right this moment is where I need to go right now to meet it.
Whether to allow myself to sink into my work, take a moment (or a week) to connect in a more directly spiritual path, whether it needs to be meditation or yoga, etc…These are the most luxurious of luxury problems by the way, but whatever it is, I do want to allow myself to sink deeply into it and not feel I have to hold back in fear of offending and/or losing someone. The advantage of being single of course is this. I don’t have to worry about how my actions will impact an intimate partner. I think perhaps if I am fully honest, I used these partners partly as an excuse…though the fear of loss was real. It’s so easy to blame someone else, even if not technically blaming…using their existence in some way to explain a lack of a depth of searching in a certain way.
Also, sometimes, given all the academic stuff I’ve read and the philosophies, etc., there can be a hesitation about ‘seeming’ stupid for following certain paths. I haven’t read Mary Karr’s Lit yet, but did read an interview with her wherein she said the thing she’s done in her life that has shocked and alienated more people than any of her alcohol or drug abuse was converting to Catholicisim. While I am in no danger of that conversion, I do know what she means.
I did my time as a young teenager as an Evangelical Baptist making a fool out of myself and feeling like an ass after I un-converted, so there is this hesitation, too – won’t be fooled again, etc.
I do have a spiritual path that I can’t write about openly, though it is available to anyone who seeks it. Some people do write about it openly, but I can’t bring myself to do that due to the traditions inherent in it. Sounds way more hooey than it is. If you’re interested, get in touch with me directly, and I’ll tell you.
What I want to be able to do this year, is make work that goes wherever it needs to go, in terms of medium and forms of expression – that I allow to be stupid or foolish if need be, that I stop worrying about all that crap and just let it flow. I know that’s possible. I also know I will worry, that I have pride and vanity and cannot pretend to be holier than thou in this regard.
But I want my work to be an offering not a marketplace product and this is always the conundrum for me. Even reading Patti Smith’s Just Kids, she and Robert Mapplethorpe dress in these very specific ways to make an impression and fit in or somehow offer something to certain art scenes. And I find even this somewhat dispiriting. I mean OK she’s talking about when they are 19-22 or thereabouts, and I did my share of deliberate dressing then, too, but I get this sense that certain poses and ways of appearing are necessary to be taken seriously in some art scenes, etc. I know this actually. But for some reason, I just resist and resist and resist this. Why? It’s not that big a deal and everybody dresses to some degree of conformity or non-conformity to find ways to fit in or distinguish themselves from one group or another. I do that, too. It’s impossible not to do this. I fear there is some hypocrisy in me involved here. Or maybe just fear that I’m no good at it, and I resent people who are good at it. Could be that stupid. You never know.
This all relates to my work, too, because as anyone who’s even read this might gather, I have a thing about getting to the relatively unvarnished truth, whatever that word means anymore – though at this point it’s become such a cliché to undermine the word truth that I’m beginning to feel like resurrecting its tired ass just to be contrary. Who me? Imagine.
But what I mean is getting closer, because I don’t think it’s possible to do it completely, but closer to the chaotic, multiplicitous reality of our daily lives, thoughts, feelings, impulses, drives, dreams, nightmares, ideas, goals….because I distrust instinctively Programs and Solutions that Offer A Way to do Whatever or become Whomever…The fact I do follow a series of spiritual steps is a miracle consequently. I do this for one incredibly simple reason: it works and is the reason, as far as I can tell, that I am alive. Intellectually, it makes no sense and in fact can be torn down in about 5 seconds flat. But it works. Go figure.
So this is what I mean…that is true but I still hold to my intellectual ideas and fancy concepts, etc., and so many people do the same. So why attempt to iron out the contradictions when it’s impossible anyway? Why create these fictional story lines to make ourselves feel…what? Better? Worse?
Sometimes I think my desires in this regard are hopelessly adolescent and that I should just get over myself and go along to get along – get with the product-creation program. ‘Brand’ myself…and my God think of that means! Cattle are branded. It hurts and involves a hot iron. And we do this to ourselves? Voluntarily? Who benefits? Us? Really? Really? I’m not so sure.
My brain has now switched off, so will stop writing. I’m on a train that does not have Wifi so am writing this offline…will upload when I arrive.