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…
Passivity can often be masked as a proud portrayal of humility or spiritual surrender. We must often take note of the origins of stagnation, disinterest, and even our rationalizations for not taking steps towards our personal goals. The greatest enemy of progress is not to be found outside of ourselves but within the ignored segments of the psyche. We may find reasons for our lack of execution of a particular task within the immediate environment, but these are only projections or excuses for our own resistances. The environment as a blockade to progress only becomes a relief, a deflection for taking responsibility for the abandonment of our life goals. It is much easier to attribute a lack of time for not working on a project than to face the suppressed reality that we fear stepping into the unknown world of creativity- it is the fear of our own potential that must be dealt with daily, many times from moment to moment.
I have often encountered people that must make a definite change for the sake of their well-being, as continuing on in a particular behavior will inevitably lead to destruction, and have found that underlining their interpretations, they are profoundly terrified of their highest potential. It is not a fear of failure that keeps us in misery but rather it’s a fear of what we can possibly become if we took initiative and pledged to set out to accomplish what we desire. We may hide behind a passive life and settle for mediocrity but in many cases this can prove fatal. People thrive from striving, competing, and improving themselves. Giving ourselves excuses to continue hiding behind messages of “accepting one’s lot” or success equates trouble and evil, is a deliberate sedation of truth and life. A patient I once treated who had a history of multiple overdoses, often victimized as a child, also victimized herself as an adult. She once decided to leave treatment, telling the staff she did not care about her recovery or her life in general. With tears in her eyes, and words that disarmed the staff with pity and shock, I looked into depths of her being and said “of course you don’t care, it serves you well… if you did care then you’d have to look honestly inside yourself and see what’s wrong, take responsibility towards improving your life and making something of your existence. It’s so much easier to not care, your addiction loves that you don’t care because if you did you’d probably become someone you’d love and care about, and in turn people would be drawn to you and love you.” She was able to digest my words without running away and thankfully continued her treatment. It’s so much easier to live a passive life but it’s also the hardest and cruelest thing we can do to ourselves. We destruct under the guise of meekness and never discover the hero inside of us. Keeping our “excuses” for not taking responsibility within our awareness can be frightening and overwhelming, but once we commit to doing so and carrying on, we will prove to ourselves we are more powerful than we could have ever imagined.
A great example of the character transformation process in the individual can best be demonstrated in the stories and movies of the superhero protagonist. I watched a trailer last week of the movie, Venom. Within the three minute peak, there was an accurate depiction of the process of the emergence that takes place during an essential change of personal character. In the trailer, the main character is a weak, plain, uptight soft spoken man in his mid 30s. He appears to be a pushover who gets lost in the overwhelming surroundings of circumstances and people. There seems to be an untold process underway that screams a necessary change must take place within the personality of the person or the character will never emancipate himself from the grips of passivity and victimization. This change manifests itself into the unexpected “repossessing of the soul” in the form of an indestructible god-like serpent that strives to take complete control of the character’s actions. In the clip, giant tentacles involuntarily break loose from the protagonist’s body, pummeling and subduing the “bad guys.” Through it all, the character demonstrates a loss of control, helplessly pleading to the entity within for a share in control, to which the monster replies something like “we do what we want, is that a deal?” I have to admit that I haven’t watched the movie, but I can take a chance of predicting that the weak character progressively comes to terms with the unknown monster within him, he learns to live with it, possibly destroying or integrating it into his weaker known traits, and utilizes “the shadow” to conquer the opposing evil in the external world.
The process of transformation often takes place in multidimensional phases, sometimes occurring with or without our knowledge- but our knowledge greatly influences the kind of path it takes. First, there is an unrecognized knowledge of the dark powerful traits of our personality. We carry through life wearing a mask (the persona) and living by shoulds or over-identifying with passivity or timidness. Then, the suppression of the powerful impulses emerge into waking consciousness seeking existence due to constant repression. These are the unidentified parts often taking a primitive form of expression and can create many disturbances and chaos in daily life. This is where destructive behaviors form. These forms have the ability to annihilate the individual without proper integration into awareness. Lastly, given the level of insight and willingness, the individual confronts the shadow, becomes knowledgeable of its tricks, intentions, and desires, and through effort and self reflection properly merges the shadow into the light of awareness. Without this awareness and work, the shadow becomes a fully independent, overpowering force calling the shots in the host’s life.
This process which takes place in the human psyche is as real and evident as the external world. A suppressed shadow will seek expression with or without consent of the individual. It is better to perceive and confront a lurking enemy than to pretend he is not there at all. Embracing these monsters inside of us enables us to properly handle the monsters without.
“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.