Find The Riches

an illustration from Beaky's book, SHAYNE.

one of my illustrations from Beaky’s book, SHAYNE.

During my call with Jim I told him that my projects this year have been the most satisfying of my life. Certainly they have been the most important. And, they have also been, as I laughingly used the term, “negatively lucrative.” He didn’t yet know of Beaky’s books, of her website, of her book signing, so I sent him a few of my favorite photos from the event. Later, he sent me this text:

It is wonderful to be able to eat and pay the bills but there are for a fact things money can never buy. That famous authors obvious joy being one.

Isn’t that the truth? What price could we possibly place on joy? What price would we pay for true love? What price do we place on personal truth? What is the price tag on fulfillment?

I suspect that the great disease of our time – something future history professors and archaeologists will investigate – is that we’ve managed to place a value on our values; morality has somehow enmeshed with money, the purpose of education has somehow become the achievement of a bigger paycheck. In this never-ending political season, count the number of times and ways our candidates tell us that we must weigh our interests against our values.

What is the price of a value? What is the purpose of a value if it has a price?

All my life I’ve been told by people who love me, that, as an artist, I need to make a distinction between the work I do for food and the work I do for love. Most artists, myself included, feel their work is a kind of call. It is an imperative, a necessity. It is food. It is love. Most artists, myself included, do their work-for-love whether they are paid for it or not. They have to. I have to. It is a call. It is nourishment. There is no way in a culture that has placed a value on its values to recognize the real value of food-for-the-soul and food-from-the soul (the purpose of artists in a culture); a market cannot make sense of soul nourishment. This line of distinction, work-for-food or work-for-love, is at best a wonky value statement. It is a line that only makes sense to a people versed and rehearsed in trading their soul-requirements for a better retirement.

what is the price of joy?

what is the price of joy?

Last night I finished reading aloud to Kerri Tuesdays With Morrie. Jim’s text and Morrie’s messages are in beautiful alignment: there are, for a fact, things that money can never buy. And, those things are where the riches of this life can be found.

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.