Into the tipping machine

I’m deep into Charlotte du Cann’s, ’52 Flowers that shook my world, a radical return to Earth’. So far, it is a good and unsettling book- makes you think:

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately, in the light of this book, looking at my own life, what is working what isn’t.

On another track, but related: In an attempt to come off my extreme anti-marketing position and try to work with the channels available, I had a gallery owner here looking at my oil paintings. He liked the work, but it isn’t unique enough, and I myself don’t carry enough of a reputation to enhance the gallery’s ambiance.

I realise that if, at this stage, I want to show my work, I would need to put a huge amount of time and effort to building up an image of my art and myself as desirable and exclusive. Unless, of course, as I did when I first came here, I  go around to libraries and community centres, and frame, hang and show the work for free, then take it all home again- having supplied them nice no-charge wall decorations for a month. the path of exhibiting in galleries, as I felt, is not tenable for me.

Then this: recently I read an article about the new transition type art- mostly shamanistic, conceptual, often with a social message relating to shifting paradigms. And realised that my art isn’t directly about that either!

And while I was digesting this, my husband showed me a wonderful article by the director of a Dutch bank working with alternative values. The author was taking a look at transition and associated terms- the ‘tipping points, the cultural creatives, economy transformers, paradigm shift’ etc. He was asking if these new buzz concepts didn’t leave behind some valuable things. He said that there are certainly things in the  ‘old’ paradigm worth holding onto- but to voice that is a new taboo because, ‘everything has to change-  it all has to go into the tipping-machine’.

My neighbours are just normal people. They take care of the old and ill in the street, work in the community gardens, keep the local billiard club going- they just do these things naturally. They don’t sign petitions for women’s rights in the Middle east, they just do the shopping for the woman next door. They don’t know that you can lease a recycled pair of jeans, but they hardly ever waste things because ‘that would be a shame’. They don’t start a social media community, but they do volunteer work for their community centre.

They like nice, good things- the garden, children, friendship and warmth. And they work together for the benefit of their school, street and billiard club.

All of this completely ‘person-centred’ and ‘sustainable’.

Do they even know that?

Jeroen Jansen Director of the ASN Bank

It is what I keep coming back to: being here fully. Taking time to do the things that need doing well, caring for the home, the garden and others.

And the questions about where my art does or doesn’t fit in aren’t really the relevant ones, though I admit that matters of recognition and success still come up as a result of  being a professional artist all my life.  But I sense that my answers don’t lie with identifying too much with either the transition community or the ‘old’ career ways, but with sending roots down into myself, anchoring in my own story, as well as the local area.

And as far as my painting goes, it is, like Tai Chi, my discipline; it is something I can go  deeper into every day forever, and be led to layers of discovery and insight. It is where I come up against myself, and am lifted above myself at the same time. Du Cann emphasises internals. Questions of success and recognition, or having a visible task, of standing out either here or in the transition community are externals and all depend on validation from outside.  How do we validate ourselves inside? seems to be the task at hand.

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The heart of the machine

Once I had an unrequited love and I suffered fittingly. It took 2 years from the time I decided to stop the involvement,to finally be free of it.

I woke up every day of the first months in all consuming emotional pain, with no idea how or if it would ever end.

Looking back on that process, I see that the only way I got over it was to develop into another person. To try to change from within the paradigm which caused the problem in the first place was useless. No act of will could take away the hurt. I did everything I could to help myself get over it- introspection, keeping away from him, dream work, meaningful personal rituals- they all helped. By increments. But it was time and personal growth which changed me and ultimately freed me from the obsession.

Now I can recognise a similar situation coming from a mile away, and I am more aware of the danger. And though I’m not immune, I’ve changed in ways that  make me less prone to recreating those types of situations.

I believe that some of the same principles can be applied to larger change processes, which are in essence matters of consciousness change. Many of us are now awake to the worldwide systems collapse taking place economically, environmentally and otherwise.

There is a huge groundswell of counter movements at grass roots level building alternatives to the inefficient mess so much of the world is in today. There are slow food and organic movements, a growing interest in permaculture, Earthships, non- traditional arts, new models for education, medicine, and community. In short, everything which is sustainable, resilient, clean and harmonious, as opposed to the corrupt, soulless, and violent society we’re living in.

It is tempting to refer to all that is wrong with the world as  ‘Empire’, and I’m hearing the term increasingly. But I feel it is useless to be against anything because a stance against, creates ‘other’. And that violates the principle of oneness/interconnectedness upon which the new emerging paradigm is based.

I recently read a post by Vanessa at Vivid questioning the point of activism if we were acting against the very systems we work for and gain our sustenance from. We all use and depend on technology for everything from social contact to making art. She saw no way out of this dilemma inside the precepts of the existing paradigm.

Like my healing process years ago, it is rather a matter of slow development out of being the type of person who is totally(unconsciously)  interdependently entwined with the existing system, to someone representing and building a new alternative.

This is a process, a slow process. As Jeppe says,in the meantime, we need to learn to live in the heart of the machine- he doesn’t say in the brain, or bowels of the machine, but the heart.

I think that a great thing for us to do would be to become the heart of the  machine. We are already doing it, by being aware that we need to change our internal environment first. I know some peace activists, for example, who are constantly at war with everyone around them. So we need to heal our shadows as much as we can so we don’t project them onto the ‘other’. And this peace and friendliness radiates out onto our relationships, we create stable, kind, inclusive bonds. And these reflect out onto our communities and so on.

From there we plant our gardens, create our rituals, help plan programs to heal our communities, write our articles, have our gatherings, create beauty , healing, renewal, together.

It is a cliché, but we can, we must become the change we want to see. When do our views inadvertently cancel someone else’s out, when do we act superior, when do we provoke conflict? I see the need to evolve into the kind of person who carries honesty tempered with kindness, peace as well as critical analysis, willingness to engage to balance my resistance in getting involved.

It is work, it is grace, it is slow, it can happen in a blink.

You meet him (her) on the street, and say hi, and it is clean, free, and clear-  you walk on.