Laugh Together [on Merely A Thought Monday]

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“Why don’t people care?” I frequently loop back to Stephen’s question – asked so many years ago – about art. He’s a prolific and gifted painter. I have so many responses, mostly contradictory. Everything from ‘People do care, it’s just inaccessible,’ to ‘Why should they care, it’s so personal to the artist (not communal, not inclusive) that it’s not accessible.”  The common word in all my inner-Stephen-musings is ‘access.’

My pot was irrevocably stirred during my time in Bali. There, the arts are practiced in the temple – a place, the central focus – for everyone and everything in the community. Every aspect of life is rooted-in and practiced-through the temple. That is to say, all things are still considered sacred – even and especially ‘the arts.’ As sacred, the arts belong to everyone, not just the artist or the elite who can afford it. They are accessible because they are not a possession, they are a sacrament. Additionally, the temple does not stop at the end of the compound. The whole world is the temple. In this temple, the arts serve as the binder, the carrier of the story that holds the treasure of the community: its identity.  The arts are not only accessible, they provide access. They affirm belonging.

In this temple, through this sacred story, laughter is highly valued. Laughter, foible, whimsy, – all reminders that, 1) we should not take ourselves so seriously, and 2) laughter is a potent force, like gravity. It joins us. It cuts through division, turns fear into powder. It provides perspective. Laughter is the sound of appreciation, the music people make together when worshiping the great mystery of life.

read Kerri’s blog post about THE NOBLEST ART



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Share A Meal With Jakorda

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

Jakorda Rai sat behind me. His hands on either side of my head, he read my energy just as he’d read the other students who previously sat before him. Unlike the other students he did not progress to the second phase of diagnosis. Instead, he simply tapped me on my right shoulder and through a translator told me that nothing physically ailed me. My challenge was to open my story. As if to emphasize his diagnosis he tapped me again on the right shoulder and repeated his instruction. Open your story.

Later I would return to his house compound and participate in a ritual. He initiated me into his family temple. I became one of his family line. Only now am I understanding the import of that gesture, the gift that he gave me. The high priests brought me in to his temple and then Jakorda Rai sent me back into the world to open my story. Before I left his house compound he invited me to come back back. Through the translator he said, “Someday come back and share a meal with me.” I thought I’d be back within a few years. More than a decade has passed.

What does it mean to have an open story?

Artists – and by artists I mean all people who are conscious of their actions and choices – flourish when the emphasis in life is moved from “answer seeking” and placed on “question engagement” – the capacity to explore and engage, to sit solidly in uncertainty: that is the environment (and I think it is an internal environment) necessary for humans to flourish and fulfill their creative impulse.

I’ve posted these words before and decided to post them again. My dear friend Sam asked me to describe under what conditions an artist flourishes and this is what I wrote in response:

It is perhaps too simple but this is what I know and experience: the artist in me becomes present (it is all about presence; artistry is not something you do as much as something you are) – there is no past or future, just what is before me (and in me) in that moment and we are not separate: the poem or the painting or the story and I are one fluid thing. The world (my seeing) moves from nouns to verbs, from object focused to process focused. When I am present the environment, my seeing of my environment, comes “alive;” the colors are more intense, the sounds and textures of my space richer and clearer. I guess, in my artist self, there ceases to be a separation between me and my environment, I am not moving through a day, I am in the day. All concepts of “time” disappear. I am the creator, the creating, and the created.

This is what it means to have an open story. And now that I know, now that I am an open story, I remember that I am long over due to share a meal with Jakorda Rai.