"I believe in the dignity of each of the different levels of the self. I don't want to lose any of them. To me they each exist simultaneously, not hierarchically... One is not better than another."
i read this statement in an old art history book of mine a week or so ago and i've been thinking of it ever since. i left the book open on the kitchen table to force myself to think of it. not just think of it but deal with it. i re-read it as i eat my late-night dinners and early-afternoon breakfasts. i like this statement and am drawn to it in a way that one is drawn to a puzzle or a riddle or an idol, anything that puts a person in a state of uncomfortable wonder. i'm drawn to it almost on the level of pornography... attracted to the image but made aware of my inadequacy before it. attracted and repelled simultaneously because i don't know how to achieve the thing i am agreeing with.
i want to be as welcoming, as accepting, as fluid and open and non-judgemental. i want to be as wise and caring... but i have no clue how to stop judging the individual components of my Self. Based on Clemente's statement, one's sexuality hold an equal value as one's spirituality or intellect. one's talent for painting is no more important than one's talent for gentleness. one's talent for gentleness is no more important than one's ability to cut through the shit and take care of business. if his statement is correct and all these components exist simultaneously (and are accepted, not submerged), then they operate in unison. one's ability to be gentle or direct is also, then, a factor in one's ability to paint or write or give a good handshake. the sensual component of one's Self snuggles up against the spiritual, like a cuddle-puddle of traits that all benefit from colliding with one another.
why can't i accept this? or better yet, why is my acceptance of this so rocky? is it an issue of faith? and if so, faith in what? or in whom? do i lack faith in myself?
i've felt so distracted lately. and alone within my distraction. i've been feeling quite singular and confused. i go back and re-read my diary from when i was in Berlin. i go back further and read the things i wrote at the beginning of the year. i look for some sort of crumb of insight that will set me straight and make my happiness a more solid, reliable thing rather than being so flimsy and fleeting. i have so much to be happy about, so why aren't i? why is it so hard to maintain happiness?
i've been guilty of submerging aspects of my personality for all the same stupid reasons anyone does such a thing- usually for the sake of a relationship, even if that relationship is with one's family or friends.
or maybe it has nothing to do with that at all? i'm very open about who i am and rarely feel like i need to hide who i truly am. there are very few occasions where i feel sheepish and afraid of another person's opinion of me. maybe i simply need to accept the fact of my sadness? is sadness the thing that i am hiding? the thing i am refusing to see as possessing its own worth and value? like most americans, i've been taught that sadness is something to hide. for some odd reason, people think it means you're ungrateful for the goodness that exists in your life; as if happiness and gratitude are synonyms. sadness is somehow lumped in with selfishness and, as we all know (especially those of us raised in any sort of judeo-christian model), "selfish" is the absolute worst thing a person can be. especially if that person is female. growing up, it was one of the absolute worst things to be labeled. so much so that my siblings and i still wrestle with knowing the difference between self-love and selfishness. it is not an easy distinction for me to make. the line between the two is not at all clear. perhaps that is the result of degrading certain parts of oneself...
what i DO know is that i don't want to limit myself and i don't want to shelter myself. i've most certainly accomplished both by letting a hierarchy exist within me. i've been trained to see one trait as "good", another as "bad", and still another as "worthless". i've compartmentalized my own pysyche and labeled the parts rather than seeing them as having a definite worth and use. i have not let all the parts of myself exist simultaneously. i've squelched some and nourished others, all the while hoping to feel like a Whole human being. but how could it be possible to feel complete when one is constantly performing some sort of on-going weeding of the Self rather than accepting the myriad components of one's being. why can't i accept fragmentation AS SUCH and not see it as a negative? why not see it as a fertile territory of change and opportunity? a field of ever-changing, ever-expanding possibilities that offer a plethora of lens through which to view the world and others? why encourage the continuation of binary thinking when i could attempt to nourish a multiplicity of outlooks and ways to think about the world? perhaps my sadness is simply a proof of my sensitivity? my love of the world? and THAT is an absolute necessity to my art practice.
in 2 weeks i'll hit my 3rd anniversary of being a non-smoker. i quit smoking after 16 years of very zealous, dedicated addiction. i loved to smoke. i truly did. what helped me the most when i finally decided to give it up was a trait that is generally though of as "bad": vanity. i harnessed the power of my own vanity (fear of premature aging, crow's feet around my eyes, yellow teeth, etc) to conquer my addiction. it worked amazingly well. and so even something that is generally thought to be a negative attribute served me well. everything has a value. everything can be used for a positive end or toward achieving a fuller experience of the world. i know this. why can't my mind and heart hold on to this knowledge? why am i so inconstant when it comes to my opinion of myself and my life? i need to find a way to abolish the hierarchies within me.
these texts are an archive of my life in the San Francisco Bay Area from march 2007 - march 2015. it stands as a record of close to a decade of my life, charting the struggles i faced as an artist, daughter, and lover. messy and chaotic at times, eloquent and poetic at others, these texts are an index i am proud of. it was here in this electric box that i learned how to be honest about my experiences and the person i needed to become. it was here that i first learned the truism that words make the world and how to trust such a beautiful, rife, hard fact.
thank you for meeting me here in such tall grass.
my artist website is here.
my artist website is here.