Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Geography of the Art and our Internal Compass

"Geography of the Heart" New Work at Cafe Talia 
It's been a weird couple of weeks in my world: time consuming email crash, got the flu, vacuum stopped working, then pretty much right after I stopped whining a largish painting sold and I got a small art show hung.  As I watched it all unfold and unravel, it was interesting to observe.  Again I was reminded of my preference for things to unfold as "I like". You've heard me talk about this before. Of course you say, who wishes for the flu, who hopes to spend 2 days mopping up after an explosion in  their inbox?  Excellent point. But the subtle thing is the mind's arguing with what is, evidenced by impatience, grumbling, imagining that things should be otherwise.  When the desirable things arrived I could even see the slightly edgy excitement of them, which felt uncomfortable in the body.  There was a subtle background note of the nose sniffing around for more "good stuff" as the "desirable" unfolded.  I could see the imbalance at both ends of the spectrum.

At one point a line from a Zen poem popped into my mind: "the way is not difficult for those who do not pick and choose" . Here's the whole poem if you're interested: "Affirming Faith In Mind".  As my mind staggered back to centre I realized I wasn't chicken little and the sky wasn't falling.  This was simply life unfolding as it does and I could do what needed to be done and not terrorize myself with whining, clutching and looking like an embodiment of Edvard Munsch's "The Scream"(perhaps that's a little too dramatic?).  I sometimes forget that it is my railing against what is, rather than the circumstances, that really makes life suck.

Cafe Talia with painting "Continents of the Heart"
It reminds me of a teaching story about a farmer who lets his old horse loose and it runs away. The villagers say, "that's too bad."  The farmer says, "who knows?"  The next day the old horse returns followed by a beautiful wild stallion.  The villagers say, "that's wonderful, now you have 2 horses."  The farmer says, "who knows?" The story continues.  Here's the link to the full story but I know you're getting the gist of the story: "how do we know what's good or bad, really?"  And for me this is such a good reminder of how small our focus is.  How do we really know?  The most helpful position is to simply be with what is and take the next step that needs to be taken.

The Density of Air 12"x24"

 I have been reading some interesting stuff by a German doctor named Rudiger Dahlke who talks about the fact that the human mind is so drawn to divide things up into light an dark and wanted and unwanted.  Even our word de-cision means to cut in two.  He warns about chasing "the light" and how one side of a pair is likely to draw in it's opposite, in it's attempt to seek balance.  Harmony and balance are what create health.

Crossing The Fields in Winter

Dahlke has an interesting view of illness.  He says our illnesses are in fact messages from our bodies about imbalances or things that are missing in our lives  that we have consciously rejected or ignored.  Our symptoms are telling us we need to deal with these things.  I find this so interesting.  Of course the trick in this is to hear the message accurately.  I think part of why I find this so interesting is that it feeds into this duality of picking and choosing, of liking and not liking what comes up in our lives.

peeking in the door at Cafe Talia

I will end with a quote about "Geography of the Heart" that I used in my artists statement at Cafe Talia:

“... Setting the compass of our heart, no matter how rough the storms, how difficult the terrain, even if we have to back track around obstacles, our direction is clear.”
- Jack Kornfield


  1. you made me laugh so hard with the 'no sniffing around for more good stuff' - such a great picture/analogy - my nose does exactly the same thing!! oh, your work looks wonderful and congrats on your sale! wonderful affirmation - stay warm xo

  2. oopsie, that would be 'the nose sniffing around'

  3. yes, that sniffing is so reflexive! yep, the thermometer is showing -6 out the window, chilly for us wet coasters! we've got a nice fire going here.

  4. Ohhh :-) :-) :-)..... looking at your paintings on the wall in the first photo, and loving what I see. So good to see them hanging together. Congratulations on your sale and the exhibition. I know how frustrating computer problems can be. I eventually had to get a new computer and it's taken weeks of hair pulling while ironing out the teething problems. Hope you have fully recovered from the flu.

  5. Thanks, Robyn for your always kind words! Technology is one of those things that seriously shows me where my patience takes a nose dive!

  6. Congratulations on art sale and art show ... I love your quote for your artist statement. It seems you've found the perfect words to describe you latest journey! I can be a big fan of whining but only my whining... ha!

    1. thanks, MaryAnne! our own whining is special! ha, ha!

      it's funny, I was looking for a quote in my "Zen of Creativity" by Loori when a little "recipe card" with the Kornfield quote fell out of the book. I love it when that happens.

  7. Congratulations, Carole, on your sale and exhibit! The work looks great hanging in that cute coffee shop. "unbalanced" seems to the human condition, doesn't it? The nose sniffs for more 'good stuff' partly as a leftover survival mechanism, I think, but how do we keep it from going too far? Life is a see-saw, and it's hard to stay in the middle, so we slide back and forth... Let me know when you figure it all out. :~) All I know is that laughing at myself seems to help!

    1. Hi Sharmon and thanks. It is the cutest little coffee shop, my pics don't impart half it's cuteness.

      You are so right, it is a tight rope between balance and imbalance. While we're still alive we are always adjusting our footing on that rope! yep, laughing at our antics is indeed liberating!