Commentary on Amanda Palmer’s “The Art of Asking”

This was so poignant, I cried. Absolutely brilliant. Attitudes and approaches are morphing on a grand scale, and it is heartening to observe these leaps in consciousness. We need hope in this rapidly changing world, in the face of all the greed and corruption and global warming. 

Becoming less cynical and bitter about unavoidable changes allows us to move into genuine gratitude. We are all changing and growing; making choices between the cocoon and the open sky; between addictions and subtractions, whether addictions to substances or behaviors or what we perceive as comfort. We’re all doing this in our own way.

But this can’t be forced; it has to be learned from life itself. It must be felt, viscerally experienced, as Amanda Palmer portrays. It HAS to be real.

We can rail at the gods for our lack of support as creative types; loss of profits on our talents due to the freedom of the Internet, for example. If we don’t deny this; if we look honestly at ourselves and our motives in work and in life, we will know something profound about ourselves. Do we feel entitled? Special? Do we compare ourselves to what we perceive as successful others who perhaps seem less deserving? These sentiments only separate us from our goals.

We are living IN the world, not apart from it. And Amanda Palmer gets this. We are living in the Age of Aquarius – a time to honor the collective and stop focusing on “poor little me.” I am only successful in relationship to you; we are all in this together. Such are Aquarian ideals.

No matter what each of us does for work in this life, there is growth and opportunity to learn, if we allow it. If we force it, resent it, bully it even –  there is plenty of misery. Karma hits us up and down – and not the bad kind – karma is simply cause and effect. That’s all. 

It’s important to be humble. You can see it in this woman. We cannot fake it. We can’t get away with duality and not reap the inevitable consequences of feeling alone and isolated. Our humility must be real. That’s why it works, for her. That’s why it works in the here and now. And it cannot be disingenuous or we find ourselves embarrassed and humiliated: not by others but by our own actions and lack of heart; by the failure to embrace Oneness with our ambitions and goals. 

The times, they are a-changin’ and we cannot stop a moving train with our puny little bodies. Time to get on board, and discover our seat; our place in the greater scheme of things. It can be done if we use our creative energies to offer our gifts in new and innovative ways. And if it isn’t easy, it’s because we are still addicted to fighting; to struggle; to opposing What Is.

~ Bela Johnson

Electricity

Night Sky lightning

 

Tension held between two

during moments

which flash like lightning

in the stillness of black sky –

 

Crack!

The thread unravels –

yet it is not that easy.

 

Minds parry,

synapses winking clues

never fully revealed

but hinted at broadly –

 

Heat exchanged

by the merging of minds,

flesh being

beside

the

point

and yet

part –

 

for friction produced therein

is the thunderclap

of tension breaking.

 

~ Bela Johnson

Alone Together

Writing is often a solitary pursuit. Thus it is with strange irony that, in order to make a living, writers submit our innermost ponderings to public scrutiny. It might seem to compromise something within, but upon deeper reflection, we may discover this necessarily draws us out of our shells and into the world at large. We are, after all, crafting for the very community some of us eschew.

Who am I writing for, anyway? I never was a diarist, per se, rather I have filled notebooks with poetry, using metaphor to hide behind when I had powerful emotions I didn’t feel safe enough to share in any other way. For those of us who lack confidence or do not feel adequate or articulate in speech, the written word provides a powerful medium for the currents of feeling that flow, fluid-like, through our fingers and onto the page. Thus I guess I write mostly for myself. That I share these musings with others speaks to a sort of universal desire to belong and be accepted into a greater human community.

One of the most intimate experiences I have participated in as a writer is being invited into the safety of a clutch of like-minded souls with common purpose. To write and share and improve along with other talented wordsmiths is not something I gravitate toward naturally; in fact, I have only experienced its magic twice in my life. Before the most recent encounter, I had almost given up entirely.

I’d never considered myself a group person, and tended to outrightly reject the power plays and dramas that many gatherings engender. But lately I’ve been fortunate to fall into the company of a group of dynamic and gifted people who possess intelligence, heart, and a desire for understanding and support, one to another. And as long as it lasts, I will bask in the afterglow of these rare and precious encounters. Perseverence indeed  has its rewards.

Ahhh … The Light!

I’ve discovered the best synonym for light is magic. For years I would talk with artist friends who would exclaim, eyes flashing, “Oh, but the light!”

This always confounded me. I couldn’t imagine what they were talking about. Light was light enough, and dark was too dark to see well. And then there were simply those times in nature when I felt as though I had entered another dimension – a world fit for sprites. I felt so small, and all was wonder and delight. Undulating aurora borealis! Shafts of sunshine streaming through the forest canopy! Morning dew transforming young eucalyptus leaves into the most extraordinary shade of aquamarine! Beams of glittering gold penetrating the depths of the sea just as a giant manta unfurls its massive wings and glides on by! Of course what made all the difference was the quality of the light, but somehow my racing mind didn’t draw that particular conclusion.

Digital changed my life. Film was just too frightening for a frugal little perfectionist. If I couldn’t get the shot just right, my inclination was to forget it altogether. Then my daughter gifted me with a sweet little Kodak digital, my first – and eight years later, I purchased a Nikkon Coolpix. I began taking pictures again.

Now I take hundreds of shots on my Android phone and load up my Dropbox. I don’t know if I’ll ever go through them all, and sometimes I despair that I hadn’t taken the Nikkon along. But the file size on the phone camera is just right – I don’t have to worry about waiting forever for images to download onto my computer. Ah, the simple pleasures.

Which brings me into the light, so to speak. The other night I took the dogs for a hike down by the shore, about an hour before sunset. And oh, god, the light – the light! It was just about as enchanting as anything could be:

All shots taken with my LG Thrive phone. Imagine if I had had a “decent” camera … 😉

Conscious Femininity

I hardly know life at this phase of the game, but I strive to remain open as it unfolds. This becomes easier when I’m not fighting what is and expecting it to morph into something more familiar with a zippier buzz to the palate.

A good friend and I were reflecting recently about how, at this juncture, we each and both need to rediscover what it is to simply be a woman. We are both highly creative people who have spent the better part of our lives caretaking others from husbands to children, and feel as though there is something inherently flawed in holding onto that line, once it has snapped. The downside is we’re still in free-fall, not entirely sure where feet will land once the earth zooms up to meet us. The upside is we have been practicing all our lives for this very moment.

As women in Western culture, we have spent a virtual lifetime defining ourselves according to the standards of others. Are we still attempting to measure our worth by the yardstick of physical desirability? For as we age into and beyond our sixties, attention once effortlessly magnetized by youthful beauty fades, though we remain pleasant enough to look at. Still as creatures of nature, we no longer flaunt the brightest plumage nor exude the pheromones of those most suited to breeding. We live in a society that measures women’s worth by the suppleness of skin, the shape of breasts and butt and thighs. My friend and I are in great physical condition for our age (and my husband always tells me how beautiful he finds me), but we no longer draw drop-dead stares. And though part of this elicits relief on the one hand, it leaves us to wonder where our value lies, on the other.

My friend and I are spillovers from a generation where women only began asserting themselves enough to demand the world take them seriously. No longer the hysteria-prone fainters of bygone days; no more the obedient servants of the patriarchy who, like my own mother, downed drugs rather than confront the welled-up fountain of anger any human being would harbor when summarily marginalized. Still, we are older now; tired of fighting. Leave that to the women who are coming of age. What we want now is to somehow put down the armor and the shield and allow ourselves to feel soft and vulnerable and able to tap into that wellspring of flowing feminine creativity. This we attempt to undertake with hearts and spirits open, as we summon an unknown entity from the wings of life’s current stage.

 

 

Post script: This is one of the most brilliant films I’ve ever seen, speaking to the birth of a woman’s creativity. And if you’re especially prudish, just get past the woman on the toilet and you’re home free 😉 I can see why she left this segment in, however – and if you reflect upon the film as a whole, you might appreciate it as well. If you enjoy Asparagus half as much as I did, please support Suzan Pitt’s work by purchasing the film or several of her other works. I couldn’t believe I found this on YouTube as I only have it in my video library.

PPS: I derived my title from the late Marion Woodman’s book of the same name. Blessing her work in bringing the focus of Jungian psychology further into the realm of the divine feminine.