First! a disclaimer. I plan to launch into topics of a spiritual nature. I have no intention of making this into a sermon. But if I am gaining any wisdom as I age, it may be to recognize that I do lots of things which I think are free or untainted by ego or personality issues. Then lo and behold, 3 years down the line and I say "oh yeah..that choice or event was ego ridden". Or in plainer english..duh! So warning to the reader. If you cringe when the dinner conversation turns toward the divine or sort of religious or even a little woo woo philosophical, this blog post may not be for you. (oh, it is 11:11 at this very moment. So cosmic. Everyone dance!)
Now a little back story. I was raised by a very devout and lovely Mom who was a Christian Scientist. Different from the Scientologists. But similar in the odd, not so many people know about them and has a vaguely cultish reputation. The "cult" or extreme flavor comes from the fact that Christian Scientists rely upon God for healing and do not use conventional western medicine to address ailments. They usually also abstain from alcohol and tobacco and recreational drugs. It was actually a pretty great way to grow up. Even though there were some intense aspects to it (Mom could be extremely strict about some issues) I would choose it over a bland religious upbringing. There was a lot of discussion and debate in my tiny Sunday School class. We were encouraged to think and question and best of all, to have our own relationship with the Divine. Within the framework of Christian Science, of course. My Mom really wanted her 4 progeny to grow up to be Christian Scientists too. She seemed to be very invested in CS being the "Right Way".
Well, as I grew into adulthood I began to spread my spiritual wings and became very interested in many religions and teachings. In fact, my spirituality has been running along side and through my t-shirt business and craft all along. That seems like it should be something that is very obvious. But I was also raised by a successful businessman who made his living as a designer. There in the house I was raised in was a split between two worlds. My Dad did not and does not display very much interest in religion. Business and religion were two very different and separate facets of living. We go to church on Sunday and we go to work for 5 other days of the week (with lots of overtime and late nights) and we sail or ski on Saturdays. Beautifully and elegantly compartmentalized.
No wonder I was so uncomfortable with using spiritual imagery in my work. Over the 20 years that I have created and brainstormed countless images for the chests of t-shirts I have consciously steered myself away from ideas which I considered to be too strong. Although lots of subtle and not so subtle symbols have made their way into my iconography, I've always used them with great caution. I did a few designs once that were based upon the tarot deck but it made me nervous. I wanted my images to be non-confrontational to the myriad festival goers. And it is true that the equal sided cross has asserted itself into my designs with a passion. And I have had some customers comment that the cross is too loaded of a symbol to adorn their body. But this is the way things will always be when the motivation is coming from the ego driven individual. There will be endless rationalizations and reasoning and mental gymnastics around designs, audience evaluation, demographics, niche markets, product development. These are the foundations of the church of capitalist business making.
I've been meditating. As I meditate I am training my mind away from its lonely perspective of me, mine, yours. I still my thoughts in order to remind myself of my presence. To be in the now. To release the rationale, the pattern of separateness. As my story of reality shifts my creativity and entire relationship to my income and my business must shift with it. Suddenly I am no longer an individual artist "making a name for herself." Now I am a channel, a vehicle for creative energy to flow through. In the same way that a mother gives birth, she doesn't and can't create a baby, she allows a baby to come through her. The ultimate mystery does all the work. When I'm in that zone of creativity I know I'm in "The Zone". Yeah honey! Eveyone dance and sing praise. Hallelujah! We are not alone!
So, the realization that spawned this little rant (while washing the dishes) was not that I should make more images of a spiritual nature. Rather, I should make the time I spend working and designing, painting, de-waxing and washing more sacred time. OK, I noticed it too, there are a lot of shoulds in those two sentences. As a friend told me once "don't should on yourself". OK, try again. I'm discovering that when I work and it has the quality of a prayer, it shifts the whole definition of work. Even though I am self employed and my work has the intention of bringing financial stability to me, I can still do it in the sense of being of service. Most folks with jobs go to work and their boss tells them what to do. I've joked a lot that my boss drives me really hard. But that was because my brain was asking itself what to do. Now my brain is asking my higher self to ask something larger, the Tao, the Universe, the One...what to do. It is very different. And in order to hear, my brain has to shut up and listen. Oh my!
The Back Womb. I have quietly referred to my studio with this name. I toss it out in conversation to friends when they've entered through the only door. I look to see if they catch the pun. I think mostly people have thought that I'm trying to be asian or have a subtle lisp. My studio is 5 miles away from my dwelling. I chose it for very pragmatic reasons. I use a lot of water in my process and I wanted to use city water instead of my well water. My studio has a concrete floor which is also very pragmatic for messy, waxy jobs. It is the back room of a retail space on Main St. in Cottage Grove. It doesn't have any windows. It only has one door to the outside. When the door is shut it is utterly enclosed and I have no idea what is going on outside. Well, maybe a peep of light from under the door will indicate that the sun has come out. Fortunately the door faces south. I have rented this space for 10 years. I moved into it in January of 2000. It has presented a challenge to me energetically because I have never liked it's lack of windows and rather garage like quality. I have wanted it to be prettier but never have known how to go about it, because it is my work place. And work and spirituality are separate you see.
Well, that dichotomy is changing. I don't know what will happen, but I believe that when we change our thoughts our outer reality seems to change miraculously. For now, I must end this blog post and head to that very same studio. Today I'm feeling really curious about how I'll feel when I'm there. Today the question will be, what will best serve this place? Instead of what needs to get done?