Art, in all its genuineness, is the most despised talent. Conformists have always attempted to censor or obliterate it all together. Men tend to despise what they cannot control and make subservient to their needs and agendas and so they will attempt, in every manner psychological, physical, or political, to suppress it. The art form at its purest is the antithesis of rigidity and the sheep-minded. Art stands alone, its origins stem from beyond human awareness and only manifests itself in the act of creation of the artist. The art form defies all logic and presupposed manners of rational thought, and yet communicates in unexplainable ways our deepest yearnings and curiosities. It transcends worlds and reminds us of a universal state of being we have somehow been severed from. Art is freedom. Raw, independent, unconscious, deep, pure, unrestrained, stoic, and childlike. Art is the barefooted mistress, unveiling, slinging her hijab towards her oppressors. It is the baby, breaking free from the bottle, taking the militant crawl towards the kitchen for a handful of ham, toothless and all. Art is the free-minded man that questions the herd-imposed beliefs of his peers, at the expense of being ostracized. Except art, in all its omnipotence and truth, unfazed and certain, will part its victims unscathed. While poems may burn and statues fall, art laughs, dances away, and takes its residence elsewhere.
Art is the epitome of freedom. It seeks artists. It’s not reserved for a selected few, but to the daring and courageous who will set out to explore the realm of the infinite. We often resonate with its various forms because it is a part of who we are, our native universal language. Suppressing art out of conformity, rigidity, and fear creates diseased individuals and societies where the imprisoned idea transforms into untamed monsters. More on this next time…
Shuffling papers, meeting with clients, crisis interventions, meetings, family contacts, documentation…Getting busy, staying busy, feeling productive. And then a shadow emerges out of a corridor, a half-broken figure, contorted, confused and healing- to thank you but you can’t remember for what… a smile and then you remember you only placed your hand on his shoulder and uttered four words. The smile is reciprocated and you realize that this whole time you’ve been busy with nothing and the most productive thing you’ll ever do is tell someone “I’m here for you.”
Addiction pertains to all of us. Though the problem may not be substances or compulsions, the condition of addiction is universal and we all experience it to some degree. Every time we turn away from what is true, what is good, what is just, what is virtuous- we take another “hit” in favor of what seems gratifying. While it may seem harmless-to look away or evade your responsibility-it erodes the soul and gradually removes us from our nature of loving, caring, feeling, uniting, connecting, etc. Being unable to face the reality that we are living in contrary to our nature, we continue to turn away, drifting further into pleasures and distractions until anxiety, or depression, or crisis signals us to take action. Recovery is a return to the fundamental aspects of being a person… it is the state of answering life’s questions with action of what is good for the world and what is my responsibility in this given moment. Recovery limits or all together turns away from distractions and pleasures that get in the way of this responsibility.
Darkness shines the greatest light. It is the ultraviolet lamp that exposes what we’re really made of within. It reveals our “guts” and weighs our values, faith, and spirit on the scale of reality. Difficulties bring out our presuppositions and biases, it is the tested method by which our true nature is brought to our attention- to ignore or change. To seize the opportunity of changing or denying what is revealed makes the difference between spiritual freedom and captivity.
I often emphasize the present moment as a way to get clients away from the worries of tomorrow and the misfortunes of yesterday. However, sometimes there’s too much pain in the present to tell anyone to be mindful of the “now.” Sometimes, there’s too much pain to paint anyone a pretty picture… it invalidates the experience and you render yourself useless no matter how good your intentions may be. Any variation of getting people to look on the bright side of their circumstances can broaden the gap of what stands between their surrounding darkness and hope.
A person who has lost the will to live cannot be coerced to reframe or alter the narrative of the crisis. The crisis, be it the loss of freedom, a child, an illness, or abuse, is remedied through a rigorous validation and honesty. Both the sufferer and helper must bring forth an honesty of the situation that conveys the present reality for what it is- painful and seemingly intolerable. Yet, the future must always be accounted for with just as much honesty and responsibility as the present. While the moment may prove harsh, the future provides an infinite amount of possibilities-hope reigns abundantly in the future- hope of less pain and more peace, hope of reconciling the worst acts, the healing of deep wounds, the regaining of freedom, and the refining of one’s character made possible by difficult times.
“I know you won’t understand but in my lifetime I’ve seen the most beautiful thing life has to offer. I’ve seen the priceless battle of broken people creatively changing and overcoming toxic patterns. So beautiful and it’s costs me nothing” -Unknown
They say when the student is ready, the teacher appears. I believe everyone we encounter is our greatest teacher. The world serves as a mirror in which through experiences and interactions we learn more about the undesirable parts of ourselves we tend to overlook. The people we dislike or disagree with often reveal the characteristics within us we need to change. I’ve often become easily hurt at the indifference and aloofness of others, later taking an honest inventory of my own indifferences, that fearful part that would rather avoid social responsibility. There are people who just won’t change, a world that just won’t relent, and many breaks we just can’t catch… and yet they are all so charitable in giving us the knowledge of what needs to change within us. The world is a vast educational platform and its people are the mentors by which we discover who we want or don’t want to be. Most of us have been hurt beyond reconciliation by the people we love most. But if there’s any good that comes of it, may it be discovering parts of ourselves in others that we vow to change and never repeat.
Before you ask what’s wrong around you in any given situation, take the daring task of examining yourself, your beliefs, your values, your greatest fears and worries…We often find that these are the causes of most of our troubles. The process of sincerely changing is like surgery. You must go deep into yourself-beneath bone and marrow-and find those ideas that have been slowly eroding away at the possibility of reaching what you want to achieve. The greatest victory is in keeping these invalid beliefs in plain sight and be fearlessly willing to battle them on a daily basis. This is the path of awakening.
What makes anything beautiful, what gives it life, is the experience it has had. We stare at a certain painting and become mesmerized by something unexplainable-there is an emotion, a life, a story that it has lived. This is the essence of all things worthwhile. They are neither fabricated or desired. Instead, these are the things that preserve us and provides a deeper connection to ourselves and the world around us. To be fully in the moment entails a full participation and realization of the experience. Experiencing moments where we are submerged in what’s occurring is the lifeblood of humanity. A bellyaching laugh, a melancholic embrace, a joyful victory, an attentive posture-all provide the opportunity to make the most of our lives.
Without the experience of participating in the moment, we lose an essential part of ourselves-a missing part that becomes excruciating to live with. Before we turn to medicine to alleviate our instabilities and sorrows, let’s ask ourselves how much are we participating in the joy of living, and how much are we avoiding it through diluted means of connecting? An emoji can never take the place of seeing a beautiful face smile. An “lol” cannot doesn’t come close to shared laughter around a table of friends. And words types across a screen can never replace an invaluable embrace of a loved one in distress. What makes anything beautiful is the loyal commitment to strive to engage in life as much as possible.
Inside every person is the built in desire for salvation. This need is two-fold: we want to save and be saved. Children and adults long to encounter or become the heroes of society. We look deep within and ponder the possibilities of saving those in great need, and we await to be relieved of our problems-to a time where our troubles will all make sense. But rarely is the meaning of heroes, salvation, and reconciliation ever explained. We entertain, fantasize, and pray of attaining qualities of heroship but when the process of attaining begins to happen, we give it up. This is because the character building of usefulness doesn’t come in light and power- it comes in struggles and suffering. It comes in understanding the human condition and being able to navigate through the negative aspects of life and the mind. A person who doesn’t understand the map of insanity…of depravity, cannot save a lost soul trapped in the trenches of the underworld. Both would be lost and consumed by the darkness. A person that wishes to be used effectively must understand that his reward is in rescuing others, but the price is knowing first hand the atrocities that imprison them.
If you’re struggling with something too deep to express, have you considered you may be in a process of preparation to one day help a few or perhaps many people? Remember, the greatest heroes in history were not those with crowns but carried wounds for the sake of being used in a purposeful way.
All things fall apart. And all things can fall into place. It all changes when we wake up, when we recognize our reality is happening to us and that this reality must be lived out responsibly. “It’s a game, a joke, a role” we may say, but the game (life) continues. Our happiness is not determined by manipulating the order of the game, our happiness is determined by our level of awareness and harmony we align with its laws. Your role in the game may be one of success or one of lack, but spite of that, your existence validates you are an essential player. You have been welcomed into the game with a key role to play. Your awareness of this fact helps you strategize and play the game more effectively. A realization dawns on us: the game is ours and everything in it is happening for us. Reality- the game- is much sweeter when we have finally awakened to it.