Go Inward

a new painting perfect for winter and inward looking. it’s part of a set in my sacred series.

“The doctor may explain why the patient is dead, but never why the patient is alive.” ~Declan Donnellan

Once, tromping through a biodynamic vineyard, Barney explained to me that winter is the time for the energy of the vine to go to the root. The vine that appears dormant above ground is, in fact, actively recharging below the surface. The energy goes inward. The root rejuvenates, drinking in the minerals necessary for the new growth of the coming spring. The fruit of the summer is impossible without the rejuvenation of winter.

We are not so different from the vines though language can trick us into compartmentalizing, perceiving winter as distinct and separate from summer, the inhale as a separate action from the exhale, tides that ebb and then flow. Cycles of life have compartments in study but never in real life. The compartments are made up for the convenience of categorization and conversation.

These past few weeks we’ve been cleaning out our house, going through old boxes and files, shredding old bills, carrying furniture and computer carcasses to the curb. Old clothes are going away. Closets and bins are emptied. The house is beginning to breathe. There is space. Spaciousness. We are laughing at old pictures, sometimes cringing. This day’s new-found spaciousness inspires the next day’s cleaning rampage. It is invigorating. Rejuvenating.

and this is the other half of the set. winter has me looking inward and exploring simplicity in line and space.

Our cleaning tsunami wasn’t planned. Our computer crashed. Our work was interrupted. Our expression was limited. We complained and resisted and then turned our energies elsewhere. Inward. Going through and releasing old stuff, past lives, creating space, is rejuvenating. We are taking our time. We are going slowly. It is oddly restful.

Driving home from our walk in the woods, we laughed at ourselves. Mock-praising our virtuous cleaning, exaggerating and inflating our new found spaciousness to full spiritual illumination, we pretended we’d achieved life beyond wanting, living without yearning. Consciousness beyond compartments. Wiping laughter-tears from her eyes, Kerri said, “Wait! This could be boring! What is life without desiring some red wine while cooking dinner? What about the pleasure of yearning for morning coffee? With all this new found space….”

 

Stand In The Cornfield

647. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

Many years ago I painted a portrait of my father standing in a cornfield. It was an odd painting for me to do at the time as I’d stopped doing portraits years before. I just had to do it. I wasn’t working from a photograph; I just knew he had to be standing in a cornfield. It is a painting I never show. It is a painting of yearning fulfilled.

My father was born in a small farming town in Iowa and spent his adult life yearning to live in the place of his birth. He moved for work and then for love and although he knew where he wanted to be, he could not find a way to return. I put him in the cornfield because symbolically that was where he most wanted to be: in a small community, contained, where life made sense, where people knew where they fit and where people were not in so much of a hurry that they would stop and talk.

Yearning is a funny thing. Yearning is a necessary thing. Yearning is not what is missing; it is the space between where you are and where you want to be. Yearning can be fuel. It can help clarify what you want and energize your actions toward manifesting your desire. Or, it can twist your guts and make you bitter: unspent energy needs to do something and if it is not moving toward your fulfillment it will knot your belly and make your neck tense. Once in a class, I watched several people give speeches. Many put their energy into the speech and where poised, present. Many others were ungrounded and unconsciously pounded the podium or wiggled their legs; energy must have someplace to go.

Yearning can be proof of separation (“I don’t have what I want”) or proof of connectivity (“this is what I will create”). The difference lives in how you define yourself: if you are in this life looking for what you can get, your yearning will probably feel a lot like separation. If you are in this life living according to what you bring to it, your yearning will be an umbilical cord to what you will create and will nourish you in the creating.

Truly Powerful People (469)

469.
Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

As I dust off and relearn the story of Parcival I have decided that it will be the spine of the work I do next week with teachers; we will follow the metaphors; we will open the story so the stories of our lives might open. As I work I am discovering that everything you need to know to be a great teacher is in this story! Parcival is a knight of the Round Table and, depending upon the version you read, he is the knight that finds the grail. Metaphor alert: the grail is not a thing to be possessed. It is what Maslow called self-actualization. It is a metaphor for finding your truth and fulfilling your purpose. What is the purpose of learning if not to seek and find your truth (do not be fooled, passing a test is far from the point of learning and will ultimately leave you empty and the test full)?

I love many aspects of this story and the section I reworked today made me smile. I giggled in the coffee house where I was rehearsing. The other patrons, afraid of the man in the corner talking and cackling to himself, gave me plenty of room to work (have I mentioned that I can’t talk without flailing my hands all over the place. If you ever want me to be quiet, simply bind my hands. I’ll make noises but words will be impossible). The story describes Parcival’s first entry into court. He grew up isolated, deep in the forest (not unlike Arthur, though Parcival did not have Merlin to school him) so he knew nothing of people or manners or custom. He thought dressing like a knight meant he was a knight. He approximated some armor, weaving a breastplate from reeds, a helmet from fronds, and he wielded a stick as a sword. He “borrowed” a mule and rode into Camelot. Arthur and his knights, thinking Parcival was a clown, laughed at him.

Growing up without instruction meant that he had the ideal upbringing for a trickster. He followed his nature without inhibition. Parcival had no inner-editor so the civilized world viewed him as a fool. He acted purely so he threatened custom. He spoke what others could not; he carried no conventions so he had no limits. He had no rules of conduct. Parcival would be the boy in the crowd to say, “This emperor has no clothes!” It would not occur to him to lie. When you are not doubting or protecting your purity you have no reason to deflect or manipulate or withhold. Lies are a byproduct of rules. He was powerful yet his power was raw, unrecognizable, so the world he wanted to enter could only laugh. And their laughter was his fuel. Their laughter propelled him into the world to learn. Arthur was capable of seeing his purity. And Arthur gave him hope. Arthur sent him into the world to prove himself, to learn the rules of society, and invited him to return to court once he’d learned the code and conduct of a knight.

The story is a story of desire; it is a story of following an inner imperative. It is a quest for fulfillment. It has laughter and despair, triumph and shame, obstacles that seem insurmountable; it is a story of perseverance and letting go. It is a story of 2 teachers: one provides the rules for conduct; the other helps Parcival shed the rules of conduct. Both are necessary if you want a shot at entering the grail castle.

If it were a poem it would read like this: Revel in your nature. Betray your nature. Rediscover you nature: grail.