Last night I realized that the white I had added, although true to the original foto, and spooky (!) brought the attention down a bit. So today to finish the painting, I added white and bits of rust to the very tippy top of it to completion.
Today in counseling we had a most interesting discussion that arose from an article that a dear friend (I’m blessed with dear friends am I not? hooray!) had posted on Facebook recently. Here is actually a more in-depth article:
Basically, Jason and I both, and perhaps you all out there were also, are also, “gifted” or talented in many ways in a way that can be measured in the way that schools measure things. I say that carefully, right? Who can say what genius or giftedness is, really?
Anyway, apparently I was measured in such a way as to be described as “gifted” in third grade, and it changed my inner life, for sure, my outer life for sure as well, but not always in good ways on the outer, more confusion on the outer, well, some deal of confusion on the inner life as well, else … I wouldn’t be writing about it here?
It has some great deal to do with self esteem in my case. I won’t go into why, but it does. I can be excited about a painting, but I deliberately don’t let that or any of my talents stick to me, because I would think that was being arrogant. I don’t allow myself that.
Okay. That’s a whole counseling session in and of itself. And it was today. And again I’m not going into why.
What I’m much more interested in talking about, because obviously I should be less ashamed and feel better about myself, is how this whole thing has to do in my case — how I’ve tied this to my expectations every day to the world, to people and to myself. What?
My Buddhism has really helped me here. I try not to have ANY expectations at all. To have an open mind, as much as possible. Magic realism. Yes! Balloons and butterflies could appear! Heart-shaped leaves and watermarks on the sidewalks have occurred. Well, of course they have. But I was open to them.
Now I do expect, generally, that 90 or 95% of the traffic will go a certain way, so I’m not surprised when the 5-10% of effers do STUPID STUFF. I’m prepared. I’m open to it and I am driving offensively in preparation, for I am not surprised. Now if EVERYONE was driving willy nilly across the lines, well, WHAT? is going on today? Well, you might say that is traffic today. And you’d be RIGHT.
That’s a joke.
Anyway. Not a good example. I’m old.
Okay. Let’s just say I’m open to anything, generally, when I open the door, and I am surprised, and I go with the flow, and I’m not surprised, and I go with the flow. But I have few expectations.
I know, for example, that I’m having a good day as a Buddhist when I spill some coffee and I peacefully clean it up, like — boop! — made a mess! boop!
I however am not in a good mood when I curse and yell and go WTF what is wrong with the day — what the hell is wrong with me for spilling coffee why am I not perfect right now? No, not a good Buddhist Amy response.
See. Kind of. See …
My counselor showed me a range … a line, a continuum … zero to Narcissism. I’ve been on both miserable, truly miserable extremes. Right now, as of this MOMENT of MOMENTS, right? I bounce around lots but I’m basically okay in a middle of bright spots right this moment.
I’ll say, for example, I’m in bright spirits. Not, I have good self esteem right now, but my perspective on the world is sunny. Right now.
Or I’m in a funk, how well you all know that one.
A lot about perspective. Expectations. That funk one is like. The cursing one. Things are for crap and are going to stay for crap even though nice things are happening — so? so what if nice things happen?
Kind of zero that one, the funk.
But I’ll be damned if I can explain my self esteem any better than that. I can barely say I have talent. I can easily, quite easily, say that I am a multimedia artist creating from my home studio in Germantown, MD … the word multimedia is a gracious catch-all word.
Then I asked, So, can I be doing anything more to challenge myself? Not really, she said. We don’t want you to get overwhelmed.
I had told her about when I was in college. The great part about college is that I was truly TRULY challenged there. Yay! I didn’t always do what I was supposed to do academically but I loved the challenge, the books, the questions. However, I got WAY overwhelmed ALL of the time. Stayed that way for decades.
See, as an International Relations major I took it upon myself to SAVE THE WORLD. Rage. Compassion. Rage. Compassion. The closest thing I’ve come to any kind of answer is a peace dividend/disarmament; green jobs; and microenterprise. There.
And being a Buddhist myself really has helped me overcome my rage and send peace back into the world and into myself. Why? Hmmm. Because it allows me to let go in a way, a systemic way, that the world is not top-down or hierarchical but whole, that it is all connected. I started to say it all alive, but it isn’t, really. It is all in process of living and dying of some sort. That makes supersense to me.
And the breathing, meditation and yoga give me systems to structure my spiritual practice and grow grow grow and be healthy. There is alway more to learn. And smiling at other people is part of it. What’s not to like.
Now I don’t expect that 90-95% of the people I smile at every day will smile back. Not by a long shot. I don’t even expect that I will smile that much myself on a given day. Smile ratios are not a given. It’s a magical thing really. Moment by moment, the magic is.