Dear Mom, Send Cheetos

I returned yesterday from an all too brief trip, a filigree lecture/demo in Seattle, and a workshop for writers and artists with Nick Bantock in British Columbia. If you don't recognize his name, then it's probably because a) You know and love his work but haven forgotten the creator's name; b) You're going to click on his name and upon seeing his work wonder how on earth you have missed it or survived without it, and are now supremely grateful that you have found that which you have so long sought; c) You don't consider yourself artistically educated and just need a little nudge in the right direction; or d) You're a Philistine. Fortunately, if your answer was 'd,' you're probably not reading this blog anyway.

I haven't found any particular non cliche oriented words to describe the workshop. Anything I can say falls flat and somehow cheapens the depth and breadth of it, including that last statement. My work will never be the same, nor my approach to it. I connected with incredibly wonderful people with whom I hope to stay in touch. I spent 4-1/2 days laughing nearly constantly. Ok, perhaps not completely flat, but still all vast understatements.

The setting was beyond picturesque, however, if any of you omnivores out there ever head to Hollyhock, which features gourmet vegetarian fare, let me suggest you pack some emergency provisions. I'm not the biggest meat eater in the world, but I do run borderline anemic and need vast amounts of protein and carbs to sustain not only my witty reparte but also my abilities to do simple math or speak a sentence in some type of sequential and understandable form. By friday I'd have needed a pound of bacon just to stop the shaking.

Much of the emphasis (and rightly so) was on working quickly and intuitively, from our right brains more than our left and, so when I asked Nick for feedback on my collage du jour, and he told me (once again) to listen to what the collage needed rather than what I thought I should be doing to it, I replied, "My collage is telling me that its artist needs a cheeseburger."

I hate the way brown rice sticks in my porcelain crowns. Potatoes, be they mashed, baked, twice baked, French fried, or in the sacred potato chip form are among my dearest friends, yet I only saw them once while I was there. Cheese is not far down from chocolate on the list of life's necessities. I've never eaten lettuce two meals per day for 4 days, but I became desperate for filler that wasn't mushy. I don't tend to believe that squash should be eaten more than three times in a week, and if I see another bean again any time soon, I'll scream.

For all my bitching about food, there were some extraordinary and completely unexpected moments outside the workshop at Hollyhock. I must have seen no less than 4 shooting stars in the space of an hour and once discovered the most gorgeous carpet of moss when I took a 'wrong' path back to my room. It's also not every day that I get to be utterly blown away at the musical talents of Rupert Sheldrake's young sons. (Oh, if I were seventeen again...!) Even on a decrepit piano, good jazz shines through.

I gave up much in the way of suitcase room to pack the paints I knew I would need. Although a sweatshirt would have been cozy, there are places at Hollyhock that one doesn't need much at all such as at the hot tubs. Apparently for a number of people, red wine does decrease inhibitions. Extremely dark wooded landscapes help too. As one friend used to tell me, I won't be the old lady in the nursing home, who only tells boring stories.

It's so easy to be in a transformative setting and believe with all one's being that the transformations occuring will continue when the space that supports it dissolves, and far be it from me to add much more diatribe to an already exhausted argument. In the world of developmental psychology and integral theory, the excruciatingly frequent explanations of "States and Stages" are so overdone that the proverbial beaten dead horse not only has no flesh left, its bones are a pile of dust ironically leaving some, who don't quite understand the difference between the permanent acquisition of skills and a momentary glimpse of nirvana, no more enlightened.

My own contribution to the attempts at clarification (does an extrovert ever really shut up?!?) would be that even in such a brief span of time when the body is taught to express creatively with skill and technique at the same time that the mind and heart are open, then for the creative person at least there is no going back to how things were without screaming (or a lot of drugs).

I flew back to Atlanta on a red eye, and at dawn almost over home saw clouds and a rising sun I had never seen before. I saw my child yet more radiant, my neighborhood anew, and my house as only a vaguely familiar space that I own instead of feeling as I had, that it owns me. I have never felt more whole, nor ever felt with such calm certainty that what always was, always is and is always with me no matter how fragmented life seems. I learned, much as I'm always preaching, that in our world there is really only creativity that spans the dark and light and the duende that moves us to echo it. The universe with its achingly beautiful tones and chiarascuro is really just one big collage and we the snippets of texture within it.

No comments: