I had a pupil of mine stop by for a session yesterday and we went over the points highlighted in my Art of Happiness article from several months ago. One of the parts he had difficulty with was loving himself. I felt, as I aim to progress sharing the concept of a Life Diet with all of you, that this is one of the key elements to being successful in the endeavor.
It's interesting to me that it could be such a difficult thing to love oneself. We all grow up in contrasting social developments and yet in them, we have one common veil that blinds us all. The only real way to grow as a spiritual being is to think and feel as the soul that you are. We must separate yourself from the idea of being a mere animal foxtrotting about with a material purpose and obligation to the benefit of others before ourselves. I realize that last part sounds a bit bold, but as a dear friend told me once upon an epiphany, "The best way to help others is to help yourself."
Let's dive into the construct of the veil that blinds us. There are two kinds of paradigms that should be noted first.
1. Those who attempt to desperately control their reality, which is an impossibility, thus futile and a negative.
2. Those who create their reality, which is encumbered by endless possibility, a positive.
The veil that blinds us in the trial of identity itself. When we are born we know only the love of our maker and beyond that, there is a constant battle of people vying for identifying us as extensions of their own ego.
Imagine being a guest in a new country. You don't know the language and everyone is dressed in outfits you've never seen before. They have cultural traditions that make no sense at all. All of them want you to be like them, wear their outfits, speak their tongue, and take part in the activities that make them feel as though they are one with something. That is you the moment you are born.
The best thing to do, as difficult as it is and insane to comprehend at first is to try to realize just how much you do not know, for example, you know just as much about what is going on inside of you as you do the strange and miraculous world around you.
The body is a machine. The mind is a computer. The soul is the operator. That was the hard part, the rest is easy. First of all, you have to disassociate the labels of the constructs in your memory data storage in order to begin the process of self-ratification, then, re-identify those pre-existing constructs with labels you identify with as your own.
Think back to when you saw your first circle. If this is difficult, fast forward to the first time someone identified that object as a circle. This person is responsible for defining how you think to this day.
Disassociate this memory. Forget that person and their label for that object. Call it whatever you wish, you may even call it a circle, but it is your label now, your construct.
Repeat this step for every single construct in your data core. Fundamental objects are like elements, they are constructs for complex real time parameters, just as elements are used to create complex compounds.
Unraveling this a bit further, understand what it means that your mind is a computer. It utilizes hardware, software, electricity, etc. When you disassociate your pre-existing labels you are free to see your mind at work and how every moment you are associating, referencing, labeling, filing, and documenting the world around you.
The goal now, is to isolate the various programs at work, they will be running simultaneously or triggered after certain circumstances. Isolate, identify, prioritize and execute new commands.
Take a moment now to soak all of that in. The universe doesn't understand labels. It isn't in its language. All it knows is beauty because the universe is a constant explosion of perfect moments becoming new perfect moments becoming new perfect moments becoming new perfect moments, etc.
Self love is accepting that you are another perfect moment of the universe, you are the universe, just as your nose is you, your toes are you, your eyes are you, your atoms are you, all of those are part of the universe. When you step in front of a mirror, pass by a window, or look over the side of a boat into ununscathed waters and to see your reflection, all you should see is the beauty of the universe at work.
When you see that, tell me, what's not to love?
The summer was unlike any other and I embraced every moment I could to rise above everything I ever was so that I might become something more. In my adventures I lost friends, gained friends, closed doors, opened doors, and reflecting upon all of that it is clear to see that those experiences were hardly just a summer thing but an ongoing facet of our life experience that one must learn to adapt to.
For a long time I put my love for painting down to the wayside, giving myself to other parts of life that would be offered and when I did, while much of it was entertaining, I found a ever present feeling of emptiness in my heart. Recently, in my last few days, I have spent time with my good friend Justin James Hanrahan, an Austin musician, in his drum studio experimenting with a new way to create art. While he practices on his drum set and occasionally on keyboard, I work on a new painting. It's an incredible experience in that the music fuels my creativity almost dictating the next direction the painting might go. It is such a high, in that moment, where everything else in the world disappears and i'm both lost and found in an amazing grace of pure creation.
It does help that I found my muse. I never really had one before. Many people ask me what my inspiration has been for my work. For years I never really had any one thing that inspired me other than just how I saw the world, my place in it, expressing my perspective of that place, and perhaps characters along the way. Suddenly with a muse and this wonderful new way to paint, I feel so excited and alive, like never before. I feel this sort of I dont care about anything else but getting out of my heart what is in it and onto canvas. The feeling is relentless and I could do it all day, everyday, forever on end.
Its hard to describe what its like to have a muse and what that means to an artist. It's kind of like being alive tens upon thousands of years ago, hungry, lost, and cold, and suddenly finding a campfire with food prepared and a nice place to rest one's head after years of struggle. There is this sort of curious feeling with having this experience that one does not see or feel at first. The fire is so warm and inviting, the food tastes so good and the bedding is as if a cloud had been hunted down from the sky to be laid upon. These wonderful things are so dearly cherished as they have never been seen before and only dreamed of, and even in those dreams it were only concepts of desire. Through the night as the stars dance above, the food has been eaten, the fire is not being fueled and the cold is creeping in. What is rest then? Suddenly, an overwhelming feeling washes over and one looks about for kindling and fuel to add to the fire, longing for it s enchanting warmth to continue on. This could go on for ever, assuming there were enough vegetation and/or animals to resource for food to cook, and so on, yet with the passing days as the forest the kindly home was made in has slowly become something of an open field, and one looks upon the fire seeing it is no longer the dream that was dreamed of, but a fire that has become one's own. It is no longer the same, it has become changed, tainted, and with that, the entire forest poisoned with an impossible dream. There is nothing left to do when there are no more trees to cut down, no more food to eat, and the fire which was once so surreal and full of life becomes little more than a memory of a dream that once was. There is little to do but pick yourself up and go on, see what else there is that could be out there.
What I take away from that is there is so much beauty in the world. There was beauty in the travelers struggle, there was beauty in the oasis that was found, there was beauty in the lesson learned, and finally there is beauty in the possibility that despite potential hardship more dreams could be seen, had, and enjoyed. While there will never be a home like the first one found, that is no reason to never leave its resting ashes in search of what dreams may come. Its indeed a sign that dreams are more in the waiting.
Somehow, I've been so lucky to stumble upon this warm, kind, and gentle little campsite and now that I've laid my head down with tummy full, I dream it will always be so. The flames whisper in cooing echoes to me that the place I call home is the lucky one, for whom else would cherish it so? I never stopped to think that this place was made by someone else, perhaps for someone else, or destined by the universe for another, yet here I am in love with the moment as if it were all my own.
How I love to create... what greater joy than to do so?
I woke up this morning with a thought how the sky is just an Ocean drop's afterlife. Simmer on that while we dive into more relevant things:
This lovely young woman is April Sanders. Hair, like shoes, pretty much sums a person up, and April is a master of culturing hair to such an extent that you wont even need a new hair cut for another 6 - 10 months, because it looks that fucking good for that long. I found her some 6 years ago working at a real shit hole salon/tattoo shop in Georgetown. She was focused, meticulous and above all had vision. She won't let you go until its absolutely picture perfect, and some how she manages to do all of this so fast and efficiently, you wont even know it happened til its over. I had let a few months slip by before a new style check up and I found she wasn't working up there anymore. The new owners gave me her number and I found she was working off 620/35 at a delightful little place, wonderful owners, great atmosphere, and even though its a 40 minute drive for me to go there, it's always worth it to get it done right by a master professional. You can check out her facebook page here> (Hair By April)
This handsome devil is the notorious Bad JohnPaul. I inadvertently found his work through an acquaintance who modeled for him some years ago, and without having any idea who he was, his work inspired a beautiful painting of mine called, 'Endearing Dreams'. Some time later I happened to find myself at one of his shows, ( not a typical photography showcasing, by any means ) where for a moment, in a mere fractional way, a rather large audience could experience a representation of what goes on in his head. Some people are turned off by it, finding his work too saucy, vulgar, or gross. (I have heard these comments.) For the same reason people do not enjoy Jazz, these comments are made about Bad JohnPauls work. Any intellectual can appreciate that its about materializing the fringe of socially accepted constructs of identity and its done with glamorously. In preparation for my upcoming art show August 29th, I took an opportunity to both support my artist friend in his passion of photography and at the same time get some new photo propaganda for myself by hiring him to shoot me in his studio. I found myself in a temporary studio space ( Photographers of this caliber deserves lots of space, don't worry he will have a new studio by the time you read this.) We sat for a moment catching up, talking about this and that, over a nice Wednesday afternoon cigarette. I could bore you with details but I will summarize it with a bit of wisdom for you: Never judge an artist by his work. On with the get down, the shoot was smooth and painless, as if his shots were premeditated, or perhaps he had stayed up all night tossing and turning over what shots would be made, such is the essence of a great artist because you know he is making the entire thing up as he goes and it just so happens to come out perfect. For being as 'Bad' as he is, I've never really had anything but good things to say about him. Check his studio out, check his work out, I promise getting shot never felt so good.
I met with my dear friends from Southern Traditions Meats, Jeff and Tammy, for a catch up session at a unsuspecting restaurant on 6th and Lavaca. I found myself in a restaurant disguised as a bar, showcasing art with substance, non-obtrusive music, and clean everything. We sat down to enjoy a drink as Jeff delivered some fresh steaks. Somewhere in the middle of our conversation, Chef Emilio discreetly slides us a plate of the steak Jeff had just brought that day, providing us with silverware, appetite not included but definitely invoked! Without losing any level of sophistication, we devoured the steak in seconds like ravenous wolves. Imagine most of the beef you eat is actually just garbage. you could go into your nearest trashcan can eat whatever is in there and it would be exactly the same as whatever beef you're eating at most restaurants you go to. Yet this beef, this steak, a cut of Grass Fed Beef, is so different, it tastes so different, its texture is different, you can feel the quality of the beef with every bite. You can feel a surge of energy after the meal, there are nutrients in there that you're just not getting with the other stuff. You can find a plate of this amazing cuisine at Austin Ale House, and I strongly recommend you do. You're not eating real food until you do.
In conclusion to today's Public Service Announcement, I would like to quote Miss Anna Philips: "Free the mind body and spirit... Take time for self to reflect, understand and identify with where you are this very moment..."
I was invited to create the largest painting I have ever made recently, sought out by the incredible saxophonist, Marcos Morales, and the owner of Crual tables, Matt cash, to help convey a certain feel for the Crual House Concert series atmosphere.. The painting began as a 9ft x 20ft canvas which I worked on un-stretched in the factory of White Star Manufacturing (near the F1 Track in Austin, Tx; Thank you Tina Johnson!. In an effort to consolidate the painting for transport and practical application, I cut the painting down into 3 panel sizes, where I then trafficked it to the location on Sauls Drive. There in the driveway I assembled 3 4ft x 8ft panels and stretched the canvas' before bringing them upstairs to be displayed on the stage where all the future bands that will perform there may perform in front of. It was a proud moment in Feelgood history. During my painting process, Ramblin' Erik James played his guitar, harmonica, and sang in his unique style, then graced the party with his presence and live performance, opening for the headliner, Robobilly.