Friday, March 30, 2012

Right now I'm reading a book called Tom Waits on Tom Waits, Interviews and Encounters. Sheer brilliance! Much like his music, his interviews allow readers to immerse themselves into his world... And what a world it is! Tom Waits seems to inhabit his own reality: a gritty, raw, dark, but warm place simultaneously existing today and some time in the 1940's. As I swim through these articles of him with his anecdotes, witty one-liners and his ruggedly captivating persona as described by his many interviewers, I find myself walking differently, noticing details and places I haven't noticed before... Oddly enough, I find myself connecting to myself more--a truer, more honest part of myself.

Great art and true artists have the capacity to inspire us to experience the world in a new way. Certain artists actually motivate me to live a more meaningful and fulfilling life, reminding me through their work that I can choose to live each day in a way that counts; that every moment is an opportunity to be singularly, fabulously myself. For that reason alone, art is a driving force in my world.

I heard a story that during the Second World War, Winston Churchill’s finance minister said Britain should cut arts funding to support the war effort. According to rumor, Churchill’s response was this: “Then what are we fighting for?”

Indeed. Our birthright and a basic need for all of us is creativity. The world we live in these days does not encourage this. Instead it often feels as if the powers that be try to make us all fit into the same neat box, labeled "Consumer." It requires daily bravery to live our lives in a creative and individual way. I thank the universe for people like Tom Waits, who show the rest of us that there are many different paths to choose from. Out of 7 billion paths, (hopefully) we choose the one meant for us.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Talent develops in tranquillity, character in the full current of human life. -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, poet, dramatist, novelist, and philosopher (1749-1832)

I saw the above quote this morning and it spoke to me deeply... These days it seems that I'm very rarely in my comfort zone; constantly having to push beyond my former experience in all areas of my life. It can feel unpeaceful much of the time, as surges of adrenaline pass through me, repeatedly... Yet I know that I have no choice, as I can't go back now. Yes, I could choose some version of the unfulfilling existence of my past, and remain "safe", in place. Instead, I want the infinite possibilities of the future. Clearly it requires a lot of courage and effort, but what point is there in living a stagnant life?

So, a balance is needed. Time and space to work on that which is important, and full-on immersion and contact with the world and people around me. The latter still regularly fills me with fear... I often go in and out of flashback memories that unfairly paint friends and strangers with a brush of doom, my reality distorted. This, I've been dealing with a lot in the past week--a function of my PTSD. But it's more and more conscious--it's coming to the forefront. And that, is progress, people.

I cannot hope to heal from my wounds sitting in a corner all by myself, immersed in my music. Like Goethe says, character develops in the full current. So I dive in, time and again, bravely.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Never before has it been so clear to me how much power I have over my own thoughts...that the way I see the world and myself is ultimately in my own control. Famous thinkers and writers have always said this and on some level I've always thought that it's bullshit. Wouldn't I be a more positive, relaxed person if I had the choice?

I've always felt very much the victim of whatever has been going on in my life, and whatever thought sequence has come about. What I hadn't fully understood before is that I can't hope to change my thoughts around just like that in one given moment. The way we think is a matter of consistency--it's a long-term process. If I've been cultivating a foundation of negativity in my mind for days and weeks, months and years, I can be sure that one positive (i.e. accurate) thought that I try to force on myself will not take root. It will be a useless struggle, as my mind will only be fertile ground for negativity. If instead I consistently cultivate a foundation of positive thinking, productive and nourishing thoughts ensue naturally.

Initially though, changing one's negative habit of thinking is hard work. Really hard work. I know this first-hand. Changing our thoughts seems to go against everything we are. The way we think is a product of everything that we've experienced in our lives: the influence of the people who brought us up, our peers, culture, media... In some ways, it can seem like the only constant in our lives; as if it's our identity. But, I think that we can't become who we truly are meant to be until we free our minds of negative programming.

Spoon boy: Do not try and bend the spoon. That's impossible. Instead... only try to realize the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Spoon boy: There is no spoon.
Neo: There is no spoon?
Spoon boy: Then you'll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.

--The Matrix

Reality truly is what we make it.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Within the last few years I have come to realize that I am a very driven, even passionate and intense person. This ends up working against me sometimes, because in my excitement to accomplish great things and to push myself further, I forget to tune into how I am feeling. I forget to take time to just be and to relax, and end up finding myself high-strung, with a cluttered mind.

As I checked in with myself tonight, I was surprised to find the answer to my troubles so simple: I'm tired. I need time to process all these things that are happening in my life... What a lesson! The answers are often so takes real effort to see what is in front of our eyes.

There are many beautiful quotes that I would like to share with you on this subject, but I resolve to leave you with two. With them I wish you a wonderful, relaxing weekend!

"Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are." -Chinese Proverb

"When we are unable to find tranquility within ourselves, it is useless to seek it elsewhere." -Francois de La Rochefoucauld (1613 - 1680)

Friday, March 2, 2012

These days, I notice that as I get more rooted in facts and reality and more together within myself, it tends to affect my surroundings in a big way. Not only in the neat versus messy sense--it carries on into everything: relationships, family, my address book, (!)... Everything becomes cleaner and clearer... a slow process though it is. It feels like it's impossible to have health in one area and not in the other, as everything is connected and carries on into the other. I've noticed that if I really want to feel whole and content, all areas of my life have to be addressed and healed, little by little, one at a time. Once the process starts, it tends to progress naturally....

As I look back on my life from where I'm at right now, and see it all through my new operating system, I can't help but cringe at so much of what came to pass. Painful memories that seemed like normal life at the time, and I didn't think twice of it. It is only later, through health, that we come to understand the truth about our lives. And I still have so much to discover...

Judging by my surroundings and my relationships, I'm definitely moving in the right direction. Much is still to be addressed, but I'm beginning to enjoy the process, more and more all the time. Sometimes the pain flows in like a wave, but if I don't hold on to it, it flows back out to where it came from. A feeling will pass, but facts remain. And feelings are not facts. Thank God. The fact is I'm in a better place than I've ever been.