end of one year and beginning of the next (2013 reflection)

January 28, 2014  •  145 Comments

end of year reflection, ink on paper, 8.5" x 10", 2014end of year reflection, ink on paper, 8.5" x 10", 2014 the end of another year, the beginning of a next. Another page added in the compilation of our life's history and ever is the point at which to pause… and read the life of ourselves and where we have arrived an inspired opportunity as in this space of ending and beginning. Will we first of all have the desire, the courage to look at ourselves in the mirror in this way? What a powerful place to begin with, for if we lack the ability to begin with that unconditional honesty toward ourselves, what does this say of how we relate and experience the world outside of ourselves? And when we begin to read the pages of our memoir, are we inspired as much as when we read that of another we hold to be profound? If not, why so? At least in realizing the commonality that we are attracted to in the lives of others gives awareness to what we would have ourselves live for. Then its a matter of knowing what is stopping us from living for this, from making this the central purpose of our lives that gives our existence meaning. So where ever we are in this existential spectrum, let us exercise the power of the will in bringing us that much closer in obtaining the world we privately dream of in our inner heart's desire.

   Around xmas, new years time, i've made it a ritual of sorts to reflect on the passing year. The victories, the defeats, the experiences. The nature of which is a ritual of gratitude towards the blessing of existence. More and more I find this to be important in how many I'm sure can relate to how time seems to speed up as we become older. And though in writing this it comes from a more personal place in it's description, the aim/essence is less so. I hope the reader benefits in an uplifting way, in adding to his/her own existence.
      If I were to sum up 2013 in a single word, mine would be 'transformation'. It was profoundly intense in this manner. The events that led to this actually began in October 2012 where my partner and I separated just before our 5 year anniversary. Naturally the pain was tremendous, and I loved her deeply. I still do. I heard a preacher recently describe how love isn't complete till it has met it's end, and one exercises love just as openly in the mourning. Though I would hear these words more than a year later, the parallels describe my experience with this relationship in a nutshell and it was from this that the doors of transformation began to open. I've experienced loss, not only in intimate relationships, before, however it was different this time. In the past whenever difficult circumstance of this range occurred, I would deny it in various ways. Become a workaholic, resort to alcohol, become overly social, etc. Anything to deny the pain. The idea was that time alone would heal. I feel the truth is that time passes, however without healing in this approach. The pain repressed, becomes suffering. To heal, one must experience the loss, the pain. So this time, I don't know why, but I did so. This was exercised in various ways from doing an art piece reflecting in detail every beautiful memory from those 5 years i could recall, to waking up in cold sweats of dreams of our past where I out loudly would speak to myself 'ok, lets do it', allowing the emotions of pain from memory and loss to rise and wrestle me in bed. Though in these moments, the experience was highly uncomfortable they were short lived thru this yielding. And more so, I would feel empowered each time. I experienced the power to heal. This yielding of detailed existence, bled into the bigger picture that had me seeing the complete experience to all things. The beginning and the end, and how I had always denied the end. I began applying this same practice whenever the end of anything occurred. And did they ever occur. In the next 6 months what would follow was the loss of my apartment, the gallery I had been working with, my job, friendships…. With each of these, the feeling was of shock, of having the rug pulled from under one's feet, and the emotions and pain arose with each loss. However I yielded to all of them. And never have I felt so complete, so well in relating to life. Breakthroughs like these are priceless, and I was inspired to go deeper. As one spiritual teacher said, "don't mistake realization for understanding, with realization go deeper… and deeper and deeper". So I went deeper in the awareness of my experience as an incomplete human up to this point. I would experience the basis of it as the nature of fear, rooted in my mind. The incomplete human experience to run from the pain was one example of fear. I wanted to realize others. This would lead me to anything that talked about the nature of mind, which I found to be the root. This included Tibetan Buddhism, Taoism, The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, Eastern mysticism, and so on. I would begin each day with studying, and then go thru out the day applying thru practice the studies, and discerning thru reflection upon experience that which related to my existential fear and ultimately could lead to perhaps its liberation. Laughing now, I can remember how intense this became as if confronting my complete existence in glimpses. One example is where I was reading the Tibetan Book of the Dead on the way to giving a lecture to a college anatomy art class. I would usually put on a teacher persona of sorts, but reading how we are more than concepts of titles for example that we create and identity with and how these are ultimately empty and have little to do with the nature of reality… then going into class I found myself suddenly overwhelmed with a feeling of absolute nudity. More so than the hired model who was literally standing in his/her's own under a spotlight in front of a class of 25 students. I was learning to let go even a little, and in doing so I saw how life was constantly putting forth challenges that held the opportunity to awaken more and more to myself. I began taking on the challenge and am still doing so. Challenges are intimidating, yet with the realization of what lies behind these challenges how can there be any other choice but to face them. And it has been in the realization thru experience in hindsight of the challenges that I have found to be the true reward. Another example of 2013 is where I was invited by Red Bull Curates to participate in an event where they invited 20 artists from the major cities in the U.S. The short version of this experience is that it was a contest where I won, and was accommodated with board and flight to show art in Art Scope at Miami Art Basel 2013. That itself was amazing, however what I value more is how I got there. I had participated in a similar event 2 years prior and I was a wreck. The artists were gathered in a space to live paint and there was a camera crew filming the whole thing. I was very neurotic and hated the process and outcome of what I had created. So upon invitation this second round, I recalled this first and took it on as a challenge. So I went in completely empty, with no map, no control, no conditions/expectations. I was intensely present and unattached to anything other than being involved with whatever the constancy of the passing of each second being there offered. Even at the reception where they announced the winner and interviewed me, I practiced being present with all. If I lost I was content, if I won I was content, if the first snowstorm in the history of San Francisco swept thru the reception killing us all I was ready for it. The yielding of pain had led me here, and the icing on the cake was feeling as if I was being rewarded for it. For yielding to the nature of complete presence, to reality unconditionally. This is one experience of many that occurred in the short time span of one year. Thru the yielding, the openness, the surrendering to challenge, to being with the fear would the doors of this beautiful world open up. Actually it seems as if they are always open, I more often than not seem to have exercised reasons, excuses, rationalizations, not to walk thru them. Most of which I would openly say are the result of fear. Currently I find myself in  Detroit. Friends from my home of the last 14 years ask me as to why. The truth is I don't know. Yet, the not knowing why is the reason. The challenge is in being okay with not knowing, and focusing more on experiencing, of presence despite conditions. When I first landed here, I knew not a single person. I have never been here, and am being picked up by a potential date that I met on the internet. In the past, the mind chatter would create stories of how this is absolutely crazy and headed for disaster. And the mind, being the mind, did begin to bend this direction as i arrived at the terminal. However, the progress was realized in how I smiled at it and laughed. I yielded to its madness, and it went away like a sudden ice current one feels for a seconds end as one swims in the ocean on a sunny day. I have been here a little more than a month, and have already had colorful pages written that I am already anticipating reading at the next years end. Oh how I would have missed out if I remained in those patterns of fear. In my own celebration, I would like to give gratitude to all that aided in which and to the reader my heart's wish that you realize if you haven't already, the ineffable experience of the complete human that is the key to the gates of the kingdom that exists at the center of us all. Attached are some pics of the undescribed experiences that occurred  within my own kingdom in 2013, and nothing but love for those comrades in the pics that invited me into their personal worlds... Nothing but love for  all...


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