Being busy is a nice concept.
I’ve been privileged to have some great conversations with my wicked creative friends over the past year. They’re writing music and comedy sketches and books. They’re planning videos and paintings. They’re developing new projects before they’re even done with the old ones. Some projects are products. Some are learning-by-doing just for fun. Some are quite shit but you didn’t hear that from me.
I’m both inspired and intimidated by all this activity. I look on with anticipation and am almost giddy when I get to see works in progress behind the scenes. Their willingness to share their process is rarely reciprocated by me because they are brilliant and I am a git.
Don’t get me wrong. I have lots of ideas for creative projects. I seem to specialize in creative ideas that I want to see my friends do. Each has a detailed calendar and Trello board with stages of production and budgets and space to document my feelings about their art about their feelings. It’s all very meta.
I don’t often share my own ideas for creative projects due to, you know, the crippling self-doubt intertwined with a heavy rotation of thoughts like “what the fuck is the point?!” but I’ve been buoyed by some external encouragement of late. So I’d like to share with you some ideas I’ve had rolling around in my head. They’ve all been in the development stage for some time. Perhaps by sharing them on the Internet one might get stolen and done far better than I could ever do, thereby giving me something to mercilessly complain about at every opportunity well into my sunset years. Being bitter is an art-form, right?
Anyway, behold… some ideas:
- An illustrated chapbook with a line-by-line accounting of emails I’ll read 13 times to make sure I’ve actively interpreted every word in the worst possible way. The goal is to fully understand that the person hates me, I hate me, we were never friends, I couldn’t possibly be more of an arrogant nuisance, and that this person is never going to talk to me again. If good art comes from suffering you’ve got to be a great artist to be able interpret “I really appreciate your help!” as a personal attack on your character.
- Taking photos of small collections of mundane things I find around the house to highlight how modern consumerism is going to destroy humanity. I’ll be using my phone, a $240 Samsung Galaxy filled with frightening minerals no person should go near that I wear near my heart with abandon. My unsteady hands will add an arty blur to the photo no filter can rival or repair. I’ll post these to Instagram (please turn on notifications; good art is, after all, jarring) with bot attention-grabbing hashtags like #getfollowershere and #giveaway and #freeiPad and #KimK. Please heart each picture because the stats could get me a brand-sponsored #ad gig. Who doesn’t like free stuff that you don’t need and would never actually buy?
- Reading a book I’ve had on my shelf for 10 years but not yet read. I’m going to video-record me reading thoughtfully and silently in a 2 hour performance piece I’ll submit with grant applications. I’ll probably use the grant to buy more books I won’t read for ages. Also I’d like to upgrade my video editing software. The one that comes with Windows really isn’t that good.
- How Many Times Can I Move this Cardboard Box Full of Other Cardboard Boxes Around the Room Before I Figure Out that I Can Just Recycle the Damn Thing: A Multi-media Installation Experience in Existential Angst in Time and Space.
Art isn’t dead quite yet, guys.
When I was a child I had quite severe and frequent migraine headaches. They were classic migraines that began with sensory auras and peaked with unrelenting pain on one side of my head and nausea. Often throwing up made me temporarily feel better; my body learned that lesson to a cellular level and responds to any pain or illness with nausea. This was in the days prior to any effective medication. The only thing that worked with sleeping in a dark room for 12 hours. I remember missing afternoons at school; mom had to come and pick me up from the nurse’s office. Dad would come home from work and look in on me. He’d rub my back with rough hands and put a cool damp washcloth on my head. He’d say “I wish I could have the headache instead of you.” He said it a lot. He said it enough that I remember it. I thought it was just something a parent would say. I didn’t put much sentiment to it at the time. I understood later that it was the most open-hearted thing a father could say to a child in pain, and that he meant every word.
The practice of all the bodhisattvas is to make a genuine exchange
Of one’s own happiness and wellbeing for all the sufferings of others.
Since all misery comes from seeking happiness for oneself alone,
Whilst perfect buddhahood is born from the wish for others’ good.
I’m sorry you’re hurting.
I wish I could take your pain away.
I wish there was something I could do.
How can I help?
I know that’s what springs to mind when a loved one is suffering. I know it’s what you say because you tremble with it, and it manifests as tears or motivation or both, and you can’t not say it. Maybe saying it helps very little. Maybe you’ll need to repeat it. You should repeat it, not just for the other person, but so that you hear yourself say it. It’s the frequency at which the simplest words and small, caring actions arc and influence. Do what you can with the light.
- Open the windows.
- Light a candle.
- Generate Bodhichitta.
- Turn off any unnecessary lights and sounds.
- Turn on the kettle for tea.
- Take the plants outside.
- Take you outside.
- Be barefoot.
- Get wet.
- Look at the rain land in your hands.
- Get cold.
- Feel something.
- Think about what you’re feeling.
- Think about writing it all down.
- Ignore the voice that tells you no one cares.
- Are you suitably soaked? Head inside.
- Dry off; put on your warmest, rattiest lounge-wear.
- Make the cup of tea.
- Sit down and write what you felt.
- Save it in a Drive folder and forget about it.
- Settle in under a blanket in a soft chair with a book.
- Be grateful for all of it. The rain, the cold, the warmth, the feelings, the safety, the silence, the time.