The Resistance 

I’m sitting here. Keeping my date with the Muse. I recently read Pressfield’s fantastic book: The War of Art. Thos post is a meditation on the concepts I found there. Much of the language is borrowed from there so if you like the imagery check it out. 

My mind turns to sword fights as my friend and I sit near each other facing the daunting obstacle of the blank page. That page is a battleground between the artist and the Resistance. You have to keep a level head and a cool heart because the Resistance wants you to leave that page blank. This isn’t personal. It can’t be personal. If it is the Resistance wins. You need to approach art like a hired gun, a mercenary. The Resistance wants you to lose your cool and get dragged into the trap, because that means the son of a bitch has won.

You’re paralyzed, static. You won’t create, practice, or grow. So you have to take off running and keep running. Run forward like the devil is breathing down your neck because he is.

My dear old mom once said: The devil isn’t ugly. He doesn’t look like a monster. If he did it would be easy to avoid him. No, he looks like everything you always wanted. The Resistance looks like the warm bed when you need to get up and practice. It looks like the party when you should be sitting and writing. The awesome TV show when you should be meditating. 

The resistance is your adversary. Your arch nemesis. And it wants to make you stay forever the same. Because who the fuck are you to aspire? To reach higher? To make an effort? You’re a damn fool it tells you. 

But you look the devil in the eye and say: I’m alive. I exist. I’m here. And I have this desire, this passion in my heart.

Art and creation challenge us and shatter our egos. Ego is the mayfly of the soul. Born in the morning and dying in the evening. 

Work on your passion each day. There may never be a reward but the work is the reward. Face down the resistance. Grow. Change. 

Tell the Resistance to fuck right off.

The Unforgiving Aegean

Herbert_Draper_-_The_Lament_for_Icarus_-_Google_Art_Project

Teenage dreams of love and sex

Bad blood

Icarus flies too close to the sun

No one dared to ask his business.

It was early in the morning

On the south side.

He was there to do some business

In places that never let in the light.

Everything that I’d owned

Was lost in the fire.

As the dawn rose

Upon the crumbling walls

I cradled Icarus in my arms

His body battered and broken

By the unforgiving Aegean

Keeping on Keeping on

Gate

Daily work. This is a recurring theme on this blog and in my classes. Some days you will have wonderful practice full of insights. Other days you feel stuck and shitty and there is no progress to be found. And that’s ok.

I remember being a child and planting a bean in a little hydroponic cup that came with a chemistry set I got for Christmas. My grandfather said that I had to wait for it to grow. So I would wake up staring at it and nothing. Not a thing for almost a week until the first sprout came peeping out of the soil.

Kung Fu, meditation, writing, music, art, relationships… these things are like that. Very often there is soil just dirt for days and days and days. No sprouts, no blooms, no excitement, no paychecks. Just careful, diligent work. Then… a sprout comes forth. And then you must keep working or the sprout will die. It will not be exciting or fantastic unless you can find the joy in the steady, daily work.

You practice. You meditate. You study. You find great joy in this. Or… you never grow anything and spend all your time dreaming of the exciting fantastic stuff you have to work to get. And that’s ok too if you can find the joy in the dreaming. Really it’s all about what makes you happiest. What fills you up. Not about some strange metric of virtues and vices.

Still as a Kung Fu practitioner and writer I find the sweetest joy in the process.

The Other Woman

No matter what relationship I happen to be in, there is always a date with another woman that I must keep every single day. She is the Muse. That goddess who gives us mortals gifts from the ineffable other world to make into stories, art, and blog posts. I take her out often times. We go for coffee nearly every single day. Sometimes we sit in my bed and she whispers to me as I scribble down her words in one of my many, many notebooks.

Her gifts are always varied. Some days a poem. Other days a character or two. On very good days a whole piece of work. An RPG story, perhaps some flash fiction, or a poem. Some days we will doodle together on paper and smile at each other slyly.

Then there are some days that she won’t come at all and even though it makes my heart a little sad I sit and write and doodle anyway because those days are often very healing. Those are days that I learn something new about myself. She isn’t fickle or capricious like some people say. She simply knows when I need my space to be myself. To breathe. The rest in the music.

My job is to sit down and write. She likes it when I do that. She respects work. Work is what matters to her. We don’t have to be great or talented we just have to be willing to work. We have to be brave enough to put pen to paper or fingers to keys. She loves to see us hard at work, making the effort to hear her voice. She’s not one for too much laziness. Nor is she impressed by a single Herculean effort. (She’s a Greek goddess, remember, she knows all of Zeus’s kids) Instead she wants someone faithful. Someone who will make a date with her and keep it.

I’ll finish my little meditation on the Muse with Homer’s Invocation to her. This is translated by TE Lawrence:

O DIVINE POESY
GODDESS-DAUGHTER OF ZEUS
SUSTAIN FOR ME
THIS SONG OF THE VARIOUS-MINDED MAN
WHO AFTER HE HAD PLUNDERED
THE INNERMOST CITADEL OF HALLOWED TROY
WAS MADE TO STRAY GRIEVOUSLY
ABOUT THE COASTS OF MEN
THE SPORT OF THEIR CUSTOMS GOOD OR BAD
WHILE HIS HEART
THROUGH ALL THE SEA-FARING
ACHED IN AN AGONY TO REDEEM HIMSELF
AND BRING HIS COMPANY SAFE HOME

VAIN HOPE—FOR THEM
FOR HIS FELLOWS HE STROVE IN VAIN
THEIR OWN WITLESSNESS CAST THEM AWAY
THE FOOLS
TO DESTROY FOR MEAT
THE OXEN OF THE MOST EXALTED SUN
WHEREFORE THE SUN-GOD BLOTTED OUT
THE DAY OF THEIR RETURN

MAKE THE TALE LIVE FOR US
IN ALL ITS MANY BEARINGS
O MUSE

Beauty in the Breakdown

we always lose

Image from the Seven Samurai by Akira Kurosawa

I was sitting at a train crossing today. I stopped for it as I always figure any sane person ought to. Next moment, a pair of bored looking young men in a black convertible zip around the barriers and thankfully get through right before the train comes barreling across the tracks at a good clip. It was terrifying and bemusing to watch.

Neither of them was freaked out as I could tell. They just passed by. Scowling. As if the gamble with their lives meant nothing. I sit here now contemplating what I saw. Right after this experience as I completed the drive home a song came on the radio: Let Go by the band Frou Frou. The refrain of the song speaks of the beauty in the breakdown. I meditate as I write this on the strange follies of youth. When we are young we assume we are immortal I guess. Or do we? Is that true or just some kind of crap we keep repeating over and over?

Perhaps these young men assume as I have many times before life is a big shit show and no one gets out alive and what’s the point of growing old in a world that worships youth? Why grow old and look forward to death, disease, and decrepitude? I have thankfully seen examples of humans who aged in a way that I would call well. Their bodies and minds hale and hearty right up until they hung up their earth shoes and left this plane. (There is a reason that internal martial arts and qigong attracted my attention aside from swords and special powers.)

I think as we get older we do several things that are a great disservice to younger people.

We trivialize their pain. We say stuff like: “Awww poor baby, You have it so good.” When you were young and your first love dumped you, or you were rejected by people, when someone treated you badly, or when you lost someone… remember how that felt. Remember the absolute pain that your tender young soul felt. It was cataclysmic because you had never, ever felt that before. Having adults tell you to: “Get over it.” Is not helpful in the least.

We are secretly jealous of them. Or not so secretly. We look at their youth and energy and say stuff like: “Youth is wasted on the young.” Maybe if we took care of ourselves and didn’t eat shitty food we could feel better and be more youthful and energetic. Yes, we get older. Yes our bodies change. Yes we get sick. Yes we all die. This is not license to be jealous and cruel about it.

We complain about how their lives are different from when we grew up. We act like they are spoiled and entitled if they demand good treatment and just compensation for their efforts. We foist what we hate about ourselves on them as we grow older.

But we can stop. We can change today. Share information we have picked up with them. Help them to grow and avoid our mistakes where possible. Realizing that they will make mistakes just like we did and that a mistake for us might be just the right thing for them. Life can be cruel. We don’t have to be. I read once in a book on Buddhism the loveliest quote: If you don not take care of each other who will take care of you?

So I started this post wondering about why those young men risked their lives so carelessly. I am now thinking that it’s our responsibility to be good examples for them. To help them see the value of life. To help each generation be a bit more free. To have their lives mean a bit more. Yes we all age. Yes we all get sick. Yes we all die. But that doesn’t mean that we have to be miserable bastards about it. Help people. Especially the young. Then perhaps we really can find the beauty in the breakdown.

 

Sherry Coffman- Healer and Teacher

Calling-of-the-Soul

After years of being pretty down on the concept of Reiki, I had to change my opinion. My friend and student, Sherry Coffman, is an excellent healer. I decided to take her Reiki courses and I was  blown away by the feelings and sensations that I experienced.

I have known several of her clients and they were all quite happy with her work. So I took the plunge and it was definitely worth it. She teaches with great skill and clarity. Great ability combined with skillful teaching is a rare combination in any art. You find these in Sherry.

I started the first class as a skeptic. I wasn’t expecting much but I experienced a lot of feelings and sensations I did not expect. If you have ever done qigong it is a similar experience of energy. As a meditative and self-healing practice Reiki is simple, direct, and effective. It also fits in with other practices like qigong or yoga and has enhanced my qigong quite a lot. Sherry doesn’t tell you you have to believe anything. Instead, she invites you to try it out and experience the wonders for yourself.

So, if you feel out of balance, if you feel like you just want a bit of mindfulness to add to your day, or you just want to see what all this Reiki stuff is about I highly recommend a Reiki session or a training class from her at Radiant Moon Reiki.

The Art of Bee Wu Tang

My friend, Bee Wu Tang, is a tremendously gifted artist. She makes paintings that have exquisite depth and power. The style, color, and brazen adventurousness of them is astounding. Her work is akin to visual poetry. It’s raw, honest, delightfully weird, and it captures your emotions right off the bat.

Beedonkey

The paintings like this one, speak for themselves. There is a boldness to them that defies explanation. She uses a form of intuitive calligraphy that has its own unique flavor. It’s ancient and modern and not quite of this world while it is grounded from a deeply physical place.

Her paintings are seldom planned and she produces them quite frequently. She talks of her sudden bursts of inspiration with the excitement of a little kid on Christmas morning. The paintings come and she creates them.

The coolest thing about the internet is that I get to share her work with you and you can support her by owning some of it. Each piece has a unique and powerful energy so you will know which one you want when you see it. You can find her artwork and info at her web site http://bee.one/