I didn't paint this picture, or hang it in a garage where the sunlight from a broken rafter might sometimes strike it just the way the light within the image was crashing onto this delightful nude, in skepsis. I just took the picture and uploaded it to you. Still, I'm feeling proud about it.
I've been talking with you about what we do, and how we choose it. I’ve suggested that powerful unseen influences are at work, sometimes in remarkably simple forms.
We engage in a kind of hypnotized copying of what we saw when we were growing up.
Let’s say, when you were growing up, mother was a in the kitchen all the time. Maybe you have a strong attitude about the kitchen now, you are cooking in it a lot, or avoiding it as if the oven door were the hot lower-lip of hell.
Either way, for you, try doing the kitchen actions, without cooking. Many projects are possible. Shrinky-dinks. Make clay objets d’art on the counter, use your rolling pin. Maybe make curls of hair with a grater. Did she work at the table? Then work at the table to finish your sculptures. Put them on baking trays and fire them in the oven. Remove them with your kitchen oven mitts, detray them with your spatula to a cookie-cooling rack.
Ever try working with Sculpey? It’s a plastic oven-bake clay, or so says the package. I found in the internest: “the best way to bake sculpey is to boil it”; thirty seconds in full boil and you are done. Now you can make the motions of dumpling-making and soup-concocting. Use the wooden spoon, pots like she used. You can even wear an apron.
You are copying every action your body recommends from memory, but you are not cooking. Do all the old moves, bend at the waist or whatever; was she always reading cookbooks as she worked? Well, get a guide book in there with you, run your staining finger down its quiet list of instructions, but make something that can’t be eaten. Eat before you start.
Say you had a father at the desk and now you are always at the desk, fine if you’re fine, but say you’re miserable. Note that the feeling of rightness that keeps you at the desk may not have anything to do with your chosen endeavor, but rather just the rightness of being at the desk. Don’t run away, well, run, yes, but not away. You know it was Frost who said, "The only way around is through." It's true.
Try redecorating your desk to look just like your father’s did, the clock, the lamp, the ink blotter with leather corners, the drawer with pens and paperclips. When it looks like his, his place of accounting, sit there and watercolor some careless flowers. Did he reach past these papers to make a note on those papers? Then you paint past your paper, onto the blotter, let the petal leaves extend across the wooden desk.
Or are you younger and your parent had a computer, writing books? You too could set yourself up just like him or her, without having to write a book. Acknowledge you were raised to feel comfortable sitting at a computer screen and moving your fingers. Perhaps you could learn the piano if you had a musical keyboard in front of a computer screen. Perhaps you could make those practicing appointments. But if you are going to change intent, bump up the quality of the copying. Think of how she dressed to sit in her office and write, think of the beverage situation, the gestures, the light. If they smoked try holding a toy pipe or letting a pretzel hang from your lips as you play, one eye squinting against its salty exhalations, more in the mind than the air.
Dad in a basement workshop with drill, vice clamp, sandpaper piles, nails in jars, hammers on the wall. Later, son in his own workshop with nails in jars, hammer on the wall, but not much desire to build. He likes it down there. Perhaps he might replace the hammers on the wall with carrots and get bunnies. Everyday, after work, he could go down in the workshop. Arms on hips. Copied frown of appraisal. Reach for a wall carrot. Hammer the floor with it a little, to call the rabbits. Swing the cool metal arm of the vice to erect a celery tree. Appraise again. Tap your pretzel.
If you are not going today on safari in Kenya or to float around in Venice, than find out something about staying home. Stay very home.
As I mentioned in the earlier post on this, to which I link above, repetition and routine is the ideal condition of deep love, deep thinking, and tall building. Sure, change is great for some kinds of love, some kinds of ideas, and some kinds of creating; but, whatever can't be done well in a flurry of change gets done in a place where things can bear to stay the same. Stability is the friend of raising children, confronting philosophical questions, rebuilding an engine, and marathon training.
It is good that we repeat ourselves. It is of no particular value, good or bad, that we repeat what we saw growing up.
The thing is, the only part of our culture that talks about this kind of trance-like repetition is the recovery movement. As Eric Bourland thoughtfully commented here (on the linked post), when you try to get off drink and drugs today someone will definitely help you notice how your behavior has been a copying of what you saw growing up.
Emerson said we have to do a kind of low listening to hear guidance. Agreed, but you also have to learn the language your deeper self uses when it tries to speak. It remembers something it once shared with you over there where that chair is and when you ask what it is sighing about it points to the chair. You start looking at the chair for answers. No good. Go back to the sighing.
And that's your assignment. Anyway, it's my assignment.
Nice work staying with us so far. Don't kill yourself my friend. See you back here soon.