Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Be An Artist!

Heather found this post card among her things the other day and, in the spirit of good humour, gave it to me.  Over the past few months especially, I have become excessively frustrated with my financial situation to the point that I found it difficult to do any art.  

My immediate reaction was to look for a job but Gabriola is not a flourishing economy right now and being 67, retired and occasionally grumpy hasn't helped either.  A year and many frustrations later I find myself trying to live in the present and not worry too much about the future.  Not an easy thing to do considering the state of the world, Canadian politics, the relentless corporate machines that seem to be dedicated to destroying the planet, and my aging body.

But I know now that the solution to my dilemma is in doing the work (see previous post.)   We must move forward with courage and faith, that whatever shreds of integrity we have left will be sufficient to carry us through.  

I say "we" because I know that I am not alone.  There are many many people who are in similar or much worse circumstances.   But I am always confronted with one question.  Is this what I have been working for my whole life?  I thought I was trying to accumulate enough  to survive over these remaining years so that I wouldn't have to worry.  You see worry is the one thing that I have lived with my whole life, that I have never learned to be without.   It is the weight on my back that makes each day a trial.  It is the greatest source of frustration to me.

Recently, I have been considering moving off-island.   I watch my bank balance slip into the negatives every month and I think that moving to a community with a more vibrant local economy is the answer to my woes.  But the more I look the more I am confronted with the realization that a geographical cure is no resolution.  The real answer is to do what I've always wanted to do.  Live within my means.

CPP and OAS provide enough to eat, to rent a room, to walk to the places I need to go.   But no more.  There is no room for the unexpected, no room for dental care, no room for eye exams and new eyeglass prescriptions.   A car is a luxury and possessions are too.  My savings, such as they were, are long gone.

So it's hard not to feel judgemental and self critical.  If only I had done this, if only I had done that.  Why did I decide to dedicate myself to something no sane person would ever choose?   What ever possessed me to move to an island?   On and on, and on and on it goes.

I have always been a rather introspective person and in the process of asking so many questions I sought the help of a therapist.   This was in 1988 I believe.  Anyway, she suggested that I write a description of myself the way I want to be but to write it in the present tense as if I had already achieved it.   Hmmm, I thought about it long and hard, decided several times that it was too difficult, at times I thought it was too dangerous to limit my ideas of myself to paper.  

But one day, on the bus it came to me, and I jotted it down in my notebook on the rather bumpy ride home.

The truth is that I have known from my childhood that I have always wanted to be an artist.  Art is my wealth and it is the wealth of this planet.  Good art survives, sometimes it dies, misfortune is everywhere.  But art is alive and well.  All the artists of the past are there to inspire every day and I admit that every day, inspiration is available in the form of art.  Art is why I can look forward to every day.   Coming to terms with that was a revelation.   This is what I wrote.

A well known and respected fine art photographer appreciated for his sensitivity and the uncompromising excellence of his work whose imagery has been widely published and is in great demand.

A compassionate and sensitive individual with strength and self confidence who expresses his feelings, ideas and love with clarity, purity and generosity.  A warm and sensitive lover who virtually glows with health and vitality.

A competent personal manager who lives a remarkably creative life, full of humour, comfort, love and passion.  He easily lives within his means.

A man whose contact with God provides him with a limitless source of energy, wisdom, truth, morality and ethics.

Well, as you can see, I have my work cut out for me.    I don't find anything easy.   But I do know what I want.   That revelation has served as a touchstone and enabled me to carry on over the years.  I am not particularly well known but there are those that respect me.   My work is not in great demand but I have not produced the kind of work that is a commodity either.  It seems I don't want to.  I don't care about trends, I only work on what moves me and I must be content with that.

I just had a glorious salad from a neighbour's garden.  (Thank you Rosemary!)   I live in a place that truly is a paradise.   I'm not comfortable yet but I have only been here for a couple of years and things take time.   Sooner or later, I will achieve a balance with Gabriola or die trying.  It doesn't matter because this is where I live; this is where I'm doing my work.  I'm not selling my precious time to some megalomaniac (yes, I have worked for them) and I am still breathing clean air.  I can walk and I am with a marvelous woman, two wonderful animals, surrounded by trees, and ideas galore.   What more could I want?


  1. I really like your post re being an artist.

    Last week was very difficult for me, I'm still in transition, physically, mentally and socially. There are days when things look so black, I can't even see my feet.

    I was driving down South road, past the Wheelbarrow Nursery, when I came around the corner and bang, there it was. Someone had taken an old pick up truck, I mean really old, like older than me, and parked it facing the road. The hood had been removed, the fenders painted a soft reddish, pinkish hue.

    Where to metal heart of the beast had once resided sat a wonderful irruption of marigolds. A true chaos of oranges, reds and yellows, all sparkly nodding their twinkling welcome to my eye.

    That lifted my soul in a special way. Not just the colour, the emotional energies these life cousins imparted, it was much more that flooded into my being.

    What came to me was the realization that someone had taken the time to create a work of art for the passersby to see. No reason other than to put some beauty into the world. And it worked. It lifted my spirits. I realized that to do art of any kind that communicates beauty, emotion, that reaches into another's life force is a great thing.

    I have always struggled with the notion inflicted upon me by my well meaning mother that my life must have "meaning", that I must do great things, have an effect on the world, make a difference. This has been an, at times, intolerable cross to bear. Now, as I am no longer formally involved in activism, I face the issue of giving substance to my life.

    I was down at Drumbeg the other day, watching the ducks working the incoming tide for lunch. I thought "Why can't I be like those ducks, just be here, enjoy the moment, eat the goodies and centre on the instant?" Why not indeed? But the monkey mind intrudes, says, sure if you just be, what meaning does your life have? Is that all there is?

    What can I do that has purpose, meaning? Then I thought of the person who had planted those marigolds in that old truck. Their action lifted my spirits.

    So it is the action of trying to communicate that gives meaning. Participating in the matrix no matter how or where or when. To be able to do this in an artistic way is a special gift. To be able to do more than is possible for most is the meaning. It is not how much you sell for, or how famous one is, or how much the ego is stroked, it is the pure simple act of creation that has meaning. The use of the human gift inspite of all the apocalyptic scenarios out there right now, is , for me, the answer.

    So, I'm going to try and pick up my writing again. Exercise my spirit.

    So I agree with your feeling that to be part of the miracle, be surrounded by creativity and good energy gives good reason to move ahead.

    This is the meaning.


  2. Thanks so much for sharing this Dave...