Saturday, November 29, 2008

Art Every Day - Emotions - Dreams - Pain

I've been doing Art Every Day Month (November) for the last 2/3 of the month, since I found out about it. I will try to continue to draw or paint every day, because the results have been surprisingly powerful for me. But it might be seen as a mixed blessing...

Along with AEDM I changed a few more things, knowing how I'm wired artistically from experience and helpful books (like Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way). I stopped reading anything not work related (no choice there, or I would have stopped that reading, as well) and I stopped listening to the news (I already don't read a paper nor do I EVER watch TV news). I know that the part of me that dreams images is muddled or stifled by reading and news. I also cut back on blogging and reading blogs - same reasons. Grenouille has twice complained in a gentle, humorous way, but he is a patient guy. And I've been even more dedicated to The Morning Pages (write three long-hand pages every morning when you first get up. Affirmations are a good idea, but no other rules - content not important - do it before the inner censor wakes up). This is a Julia Cameron item, and it works for me - if I stop the Morning Pages, I stop painting.

The result over these last few weeks has been a burst of artistic activity and a depth of connection with my inner artist. It has changed my day job, as well, since I am more clear headed and sure of my direction there, too. The result has been more creative work and more decisive steps. It was like fasting - it cleared things up. And like the end of fasting, I will likely go back to news and reading, but I think in a different way, and in more moderation.

I have been softened up emotionally. This is a direct result of connecting with my interior child and interior artist. This has allowed me to deeply feel love, gratitude, awe, and beauty these last few weeks. It consumes a lot of energy, as emotions have more impact all the way around.

So the family gatherings over these last two days were more tiring and complicated than usual. I found myself almost shy, which is unusual for me. I found conversation to be an effort, because I am naturally more quiet. And I found the amount of emotional traffic, even when it was almost all positive, to be exhausting. So I slept 11 hours last night (I can hardly ever slepp more than 8) and I don't want to talk to anyone today.

And I was unprepared for the newspaper sitting on Mother's counter. The front page was the burning Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai. I had heard nothing of this. I read just the few paragraphs on the front page, and it was like having scalding hot water poured over me. I could not believe what I was reading. I was enraged and deeply distressed that people could DO this sort of thing, to innocent by-standers. I felt an explosive wave of fury at militant groups of any stripe, in any culture. I will post on that also, separately.

I had nightmares last night, probably triggered by the Mumbai situation. One in particular was so detailed, horrific, and bloody - full of torture and excrutiating pain and the gradual destruction of human beings, that I woke barely able to breathe. I had to go sleep in another room, in order to change my scene and try to get it out of my mind. I hardly ever have dreams of this kind, and I can't remember any dream this driven by criminally insane people.

Today I am feeling battered and bruised by the demands of the holidays, the news, the militant state of so many opinions and people in America and overseas, and the horrific dreams of last night.

So would I reconsider being this open? Would I, considering the last 48 hours impact on me, rethink keeping so in toush with my emotions and my art? Not at all. I can't imagine going back to being so disconnected. Even though I have not stayed in touch with the news, I am MUCH more connected to emotions, people around me, and the MEANING of the news (The little news I hear). I will choose that.

I am excited, also, about the prospect that my art will also gradually become more engaged with emotions and issues. That's worth all the pain. I have no idea where this is going, but I am excited to be making the trip.

Before I even found AEDM - two days before, I think - my Morning Pages seemed to write themselves, and they were telling me repeatedly (three pages is a lot of space) that today was the start of a new direction - I had crossed a divide - and my life was headed somewhere different. I should enjoy the transition and the limbo before the new commitments.

I'm doing my best. I am surprised to find that I can take the pain (maybe even relish it, as more sign of being alive, and as an influence on life and art) better than ever before.

Bring it on. I'll keep taking the steps immediately before me.


KathrynAntyr said...

It is good to take a news diet and find more time for creative pursuits. My son and I had a quiet time this year for the holidays and it has been perfect for me. Oddly I missed sitting down at a table with lots of conversation but at the same time this Thanksgiving felt more like a retreat at home.

I just started AEDM today. Hahaha -- just before the end of the month! Well, I only just learned about this month long challenge so I will start today and continue as I have made a pledge to live a creative life and I've been doing that for some time now.

I look forward to following your blog and those of others who wish to make creativity a priority. Like you however, I've slowed way down on my blog visits.

Until next time.

linda said...

I feel every word you say...I am sorry you did not know about what was happening and then got hit with it all at's hard news, especially with a son and wife somewhere in thailand, I am deeply unhappy as I have not heard yet from him...the world is becoming a place I don't want to live in and being reclusive anyway, it's even harder to stay connected...with your words I am reminded of my words to you, a warning perhaps to go slowly with this but perhaps I was not clear or "slow" was not meant to be? ....this comment is too long but I wanted to say I hear your every word ...

tammy vitale said...

Ok - as a fellow myers-briggs type, let me say that breathing is very helpful. And white lights. Breathe in through your feet, feeling the floor and the ground beneath that. Breathe it through every chakra, breathe it out the top of your head and let it settle around you like white light. This is protection. And it doesn't cut off the outside, it just reminds you that you reside in a safe place of your own making that you can visit anytime you wish. I see the fish! I did not do my AEM today....and that is ok.

tammy vitale said...

p.s. nosing around and omg you love "Little Big" - AND Wizard of Earth sea (the trilogy with 4 books) So have you read American Gods yet? or Anansi Boys? (Neil Gaiman)

Grenouille said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Steve Emery said...

KathrynAntyr - Welcome, and thanks for the notes on your experiences. A quiet holiday sounds perfect. And better late than never with AEDM, yes? I'm looking forward to your posts.

Linda - I was actually prepared for today and last night by some of your other words to me. I knew I would have days when the exposure made me feel raw, like I'd been run through a cheese grater. I wanted the whole thing - I'll take it all. I'm ready for this, though - it seems to me that I haven't really been living fully before this. I feel your concern and care for me in your words above - it's warming to have, and I appreciate another walker on this road. Thank you.

Tammy Vitale - Thanks for the good advice. I think you know how this exposure feels to me. I've recently learned about breathing as an important defense for introverts - I've been using it and stretching at work to stay more grounded. I have to practice breathing through my feet and chakras, though. That is new. I think I know how to begin (from some experience with yoga), and I'll see how it goes.

And as for the books, our family has only recently discovered Neil Gaiman. I have read (heard, recorded by the author) a book of short stories that had a novella sequel to the American Gods series. Powerful story - Grendelesque with a different outcome... That has made me want to look into that series. I'm happy to know another fan of Little Big!

Anonymous said...

I understand what you're saying. I had a moment this morning when I considered stopping writing. Just stopping. Because all of the sudden, the petty concerns of getting through the day seemed like nothing compared to what's going on in the world. I've been a bit disconnected from the news and newsy blogs.

Of course, for me to stop writing would be like you to stop painting. Not happening if I want to be happy and alive.

I like your approach and might mirror it. MathMan has been reminding me to get busy with my book. Maybe that writing will be my morning pages.

Steve Emery said...

DCup - I can't picture you not writing! Of course I only know you through your writing... I'm sure SOMETHING would still exist if you stopped (grin). I hope you do start that book.