Sunday, February 28, 2016

A Gift

It feels as though I am on auto pilot; that is, going forward but not driving. I am surprised that nothing particularly excites me and I am not impelled by strong inner urges. As if I am in hibernation and though winter is ending, a sign hangs outside my den that says, “do not disturb.” I wonder at the reasons, which are many, and because I feel uncomfortable in what seems to be a malaise of sorrow, I try and “heal”.

Without inspiration, I wait. I fear I am losing time doing nothing. Yet, I have always resisted dogmatic action, so perhaps a gift is being given to me—even though I feel it is a plague.

All this points to transformation. Thankfully, being an artist and philosopher, I know a bigger hand is active in creating my life. Every great work of art includes shadow. Novels and paintings both need dark elements to play against the light.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Enough To Fill Volumes

At the Banteay Srey Butterfly Centre, near Siem Reap, Cambodia
I had not intended to leave the United States in mid-September and travel around the world, but this is what happened. Yes, for certain I knew I would go to live in Venice, Italy where I stayed five weeks, and maybe visit India and Thailand.
On November 2, I was in Varanasi, India and by the end of the month living in Chiang Mai, Thailand. In Thailand I realized I could only legally stay 30 days and began imagining where my footsteps might wander next. I chose the neighboring country of Cambodia and a visit to the famous Angkor Wat Temples. I only stayed one wonderful week, and circumstances brought me to Bali, Indonesia. By then I knew I would continue circling the globe east back to the USA. From Bali I went to New Zealand—and then my mother died and I hurried back to attend her memorial in Santa Barbara, California.

Over the course of 119 days, I made 25 paintings, shot thousands of photographs, wrote 17 blogs and made scores of journal entries, traveled by boat, train, car, rickshaw, bus, airplane and foot. The experiences are enough to fill volumes and will be woven into my future like so many brightly colored and various threads woven into a composition of exceptional fabric.

Now, my traveling is inward, into stillness, psychology, spirit.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Reborn Creation

Heart rending apathy struck me during the week after the memorial for my mother, when I slept in my parents home in Santa Barbara. Apathy is such a strange word to associate with my life. It strikes me as not hot and not cold, in which case, as the Bible has said, God will spew the person out of His mouth as tasteless. "So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.” -Revelation 3:16

I remember sitting in the comfortable living room, amid all the familiar furnishings and feeling no creative passion or eagerness—just a dull pain. This, after I had just circled the globe on a remarkable journey full of creativity. To invent passion seemed pointless, so I made an analogy that I was a sailor who found himself unexpectedly in the doldrums: no wind to fill his sails. The only thing to do was wait.

Now that I am back in Santa Fe, the feelings continue, but I am getting perspective and it is positive. An estate has been given to me in exchange for watching a cat. It is spacious, very private, full of character and history. The furnishings are artful, well made, and wonderful books fill shelves to overflowing. A perfect place to do nothing. Especially as winter draws to an end.

I am now of the opinion that I am like a field that after many seasons of productivity has become tired and depleted and needs rest. A wise farmer plows a crop back into the soil, and leaves it fallow for a season. It is dormant.

Another biblical metaphor: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone: but if it dies, it brings forth much fruit.” John 12:24

I am not to be the same person. I have felt a dying, and and it is as a husk that must be broken for the heart of a regenerated creation to break free and emerge from ground. In time, my paintings will come forth with new vision and vigor, writings will arrive with fresh voice, photographs will be fine tuned and shared. Spirit will have fashioned a reborn creation.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Hidden Oasis

After some searching, a friend and I arrived by car to a hidden oasis in the mountains above the serene southern California town of Ojai, where hiking, spiritual retreats, fruit orchards, as well as a farmers' market on Sundays contribute to the city's self-styled nickname of "Shangri-La" referencing the natural beauty of this health-and-spirituality-focused region. The place, ( it does not want to be named in social media), has hot springs, and it is rather hidden. We had to ask directions several times and almost gave up looking. Its sign had fallen down and when we pulled in to the parking lot a smiling young man came out of a trailer and said yes, we had arrived.

I had not seen my friend in decades. She learned I was in Southern California and contacted me about meeting. We had determined Ojai, because I remember when my parents lived there, and wanted to revisit. After a cup of coffee and conversation, we had re-established our friendship and were on our way.

The oasis usually charges $20.00 for two hours, but waived the fee because my Mom had just died. An agreement form must be signed when entering the property and when I learned photography is not allowed I was baffled. The young man said that the hot springs are “clothing optional.” My friend and I looked at each other and grinned. Neither of us had brought swim suits and were not prepared to get naked. As we started down the trail, I was wondering to myself if I would go nude or not.

The day was balmy and warm. We had picked from a basket of free fruit and sipped free filtered water and I was being transported back to my days of being a hippie, when I had visited and lived in Ojai. A happy wave of nostalgia took me to carefree youthful days being a wandering nature lover with long hair and eyes of wonderment, mind full of poetry, and heart of song.

When we came to a split in the path, one sign pointed to the hot springs and another to a bridge across a creek. I asked my friend where to go and she chose the springs. So off we went. When we arrived, there were some people bathing in the pools, with swim suits on. The property only allows a limited number of visitors at two hour intervals. We found our place in pools surrounded by rock. I undressed down to my underwear and she just went in with clothes on and soon was floating on her back with a big smile on her face. A sense of calm and happiness quickly came over both of us. I contemplated all the fantastic experiences of the last four months traveling around the world, and concluded that life itself is a journey of surprising circumstances and experiences.