Sunday, January 08, 2012

On Being an Artist

A fellow Eckist and a Facebook friend posted recently: “I wish I could be an artist full time.” Since that wish was painfully familiar to me, it is one I held for years, it inspired this essay. I spent most of my working life as a professional driver, mostly cabs and limos. I enjoyed the work but I felt most myself, most free and liberated when I was painting or doing collage or making mobiles. I longed to do the work full time but I could not sell artwork consistently enough to make a living. I struggled with this conundrum for years.

I also loved to play the recorder and got good enough at it that I performed in front of large audiences. I even did some interactive music with audiences. I really enjoyed making music, improvising and also playing with friends. Over the years I was involved with groups, some with strings, some with other recorders.

But my real passion was the visual arts.

During all this time I also was very devoted to my spiritual life. I did regular spiritual exercises, went to Satsang classes, and talked endlessly with friends about spiritual topics. One of the most important things I learned was that my real identity was Soul, a Spark of the Divine. All the rest was transitory, my gender, my health, my status in life, my occupation, my interests.

So I learned that it was not smart spiritually for me to get stuck in identifying myself as an artist, businessman, white man, or any other limited identity. All these categories were limited and what I was in my true identity transcended all that. I still felt pretty attached to the point of view of the artist:)

What really helped to break this loose was a conversation I had with Don Ginn one day. He told me about the attitude of people from Bali who would declare:”We have no art, we try to do everything well.” So finally, Life itself is the real art. Living life.

This year in ECK has the theme of the year of Living Gracefully. This is a perfect expression of living life as an Art!

Coming back to the individual that inspired me to write this essay, I believe she is a grade school teacher. Can there be a more sublime art than the instruction of children? As wonderful as her visual art is, as her singing is, perhaps the work she does with children may be the most sublime Spiritually.

I also have to give Don Ginn credit for really helping me to understand the value of gratitude for what you have in your life now. Appreciating what you have is the most direct path to having it expand. We know what we put our attention on is what grows in your life.

May we all grow in our appreciation of the Art of Graceful Living.