What if we could remove all our daily distractions and allow our subconscious spirituality to guide us? I was piddling around, lost in thought today, and feeling kind of anxious/nervous about my father who is pretty ill. He will be 90 on August 11th and, well, it’s a real question as to whether he will attend his own birthday party. I certainly hope he does. Mortality for “tough cookies” and very manly men like my Dad is something that is difficult to even imagine. When I think of my father I think of strength in body and mind, leadership, and a kind of pride in oneself and in ones appearance that probably went out of style with the advent of Nehru jackets and puffy Jerry Seinfeld pirate shirts. He epitomizes masculinity and old school values. He didn’t use a computer and he didn’t have much use for abstract expression or complicated artwork of any kind, unless it was performance-based like classical ballet or Broadway shows like Oklahoma and West Side Story. His clarity of mind and traditional gender-specific tastes make me sometimes question my more complex, contradictory persona and self-identity.
As I was “pondering” and piddling around, my eyes became drawn to one of the many shelves and rounded “niches” in my home. I got that part from my Mom and all her white-washed Southwest design influences/preferences. One big difference, however, is that she has all her shelves, niches and Native American “chatzkas” (objects) dusted on a regular basis and mine gather dust until they form dust and dander tumbleweeds. I’m not kidding. It’s like the Old West in my livingroom. Sometimes I’ll be sitting there talking to a guest or friend and suddenly a large dust tumbleweed will roll through unannounced. It sounds kinda gross but certainly gives the place special “character” and serves as a kind of theatrical prop supporting my home’s Southwest Style and Oklahoma “wind-come-sweepin-down-the-plains” theme , even tho I live in a Jewish suburbs of Atlanta…….and even tho I designed the basement level of my house as a Pirate ship. I guess that makes me truly eclectic, right?
Anyway, back to pondering. I thought of my Dad and his possibly/probably approaching fate. I guess we call it his “death”, and my eyes immediately caught on a shelf that displays the painted glass jars and glasswork that my ex-wife decorated before she passed away in 1999. She was half my father’s age, only 45, which is really pretty young. Rona, like myself, was into art and creative expression. Maybe I even learned from her how to initially respect my unique artistic “voice” and potential. We would go into the basement of our house which I had previously built out into about 89,000 different extra “bonus” rooms for no good reason, and she would paint jars and floor mats and jewelry while I would spray paint everything else in the known universe, including Ming Vases making them absolutely worthless. Did you know that antiques are supposed to remain unpainted and left to their own natural “patina”? I learned that on Antique Roadshow and Pawn Stars. Back then I didn’t know dookie about depth, patinas, “negative space” or shadows. I certainly didn’t know much about my own Jungian shadow and maybe why opposites tend to attract in art, in poetry, in science and sometimes in relationships too. That all takes time, experience, self-reflection, pondering, and some kind of inner “spirituality”, which I wont bother to define here. I think my Dad skipped over most of the above steps and just chose to work very hard and love my mother unconditionally. I think all in all that approach worked very well for him.
All I mean to say here is that art and self-expression has become, at least for me, a way to contact the deeper part of myself, like the way certain very vivid dreams do, especially if you’re not on 25 prescription medications. When I look at Rona’s painted vases now I remember her and her courageous attempts to come to grip with her (like my) more complicated psyche, her lung cancer, and her trip to the “after-life”, depending on what you choose to believe. I choose to believe that her soul-spirit (nashama) and creative energy is still around and can be used to support my faith and confidence that we’re here for a reason. I feel the same way about my Dad and his tough, no nonsense non-artsy personality as well as his chocolate loving candy coated soul. It is with that toughness and that sweetness that he touched so many people’s lives and inspired them to be productive and creative in so many ways. Depth, patinas, negative space, shadows…we are all here for some purpose and none of us are ever really forgotten in the collective unconscious and in the subconscious spirituality of human beings seeking to love, learn, understand and eventually accept both life and death. I know I’m still workin’ on it.
Try to listen to this. Maybe it will say it better than all my words: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWa9vP8jGtg