Life Stories, My Art Journey

a new take-off

Still in Austin and giant balls of hail are falling from the sky.  I haven’t seen this kind of hail in ages! In Ithaca ice falls from the sky in a much gentler and fluffier way.  Ithaca, I miss you already! I can’t wait to be back in your beautiful arms, among the people I’ve grown to love so much!  You all know who you are, and I know you’ll be waiting for me when I arrive.  There will be stories, great cooking and perfect red wine (malbec please!)  I also can’t wait to be back at my job and laugh about whatever with my co-workers.  Although, I must admit that this time around I will work less hours so I have a least a little bit of energy at the end of the semester.  I realize that I don’t mind working, but a 40 hour work week kills me!  My understanding is that this is a general artist’s dilemma–needing to pay bills, not having a high enough paying job to be able to work part time, and yearning to create something big and wonderful.  All these appear to be a hopeless case of irreconcilable odds which can easily plunge an artist into a black hole of helplessness and despair, from which space they begin hating the world.  Some artists don’t hate the world in spite of this, they just sit back, smoke a joint and pretend to be at peace with it all.  So we’re broke, they say, at least we’re not selling our souls on the black market of corporate America!  Then they get to painting something wacky, which everyone oos and awws about…

Truth is, we artists need time–lots and lots of time–to just sit and think and process and invent shit. When we can’t do that it’s like our soul is on the altar being sacrificed on a daily basis.  For us to work at a place that doesn’t put our souls on the altar is a giant blessing–or achievement–depends on the way you look at it.  In my case it’s both blessing and achievement.  I just need to remember that I, in fact, I can live without many, many things I keep thinking I can’t live without.  And if I can remember that, I can afford to work 30 hours a week, which I have discovered is the point where I reach max.  Surviving on 20-25 hours a week would be just beautiful!

So I came to Austin feeling emotionally, mentally and spiritually exhausted, and I blame it on the fact that I forced myself to do the 40 hour work week for an entire semester!  I naturally need two days of reading and staying in silence to get enough rest time before I have to yank myself out of my restful state and head back to the rapid waters cafe work.  Instead of resting, I allowed my social time, errands and housework to gobble up my my silent time and before I knew it I was running completely on empty.  Towards the end of the semester, I wasn’t only running on empty, I was running on what used to be the fumes of an empty tank.  I think at some point my inner system had to start eating the tank itself just to make it through my very last week before I headed out to Austin.

Upon arriving at my sister’s house, I said my hellos then just fell asleep for days.  I was barely present at Christmas and laid low for New Years.  It was a relief to be around family who didn’t need to talk much.  Their only concern is that we are all OK, and past that stories can be told later.  It was enough to be around one another, share a bonding experience and a very long hug and remember that at the deepest level of ourselves, we are always there for each other.

Out of all of my family’s dramas, I look at us now and think, wow, it was all worth it.  On an individual level we all fought, not only for our own understanding of the Universe, the meaning of life, etc., but to be at peace with it all as well.  Now we find ourselves, having arrived at the same point, with our camaraderie locked in place, ready for a new take-off.  This time, where will the road take us?  Where we want to go, is the answer.  For now, I’ll go back to Ithaca.

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