Sunday, June 20, 2010

room for growth

While watching the film 'Collapse' a few nights ago Michael Ruppert told a version of the story 'The Hundredth Monkey' which was originally written by Ken Keyes, Jr. The movie was a distressing overview of where we've already gone, or at least where the evil (deluded) overlords have taken us in their quest for power and money but the story is a hopeful one and so I've linked to it in case it's something you haven't heard. I'm not even sure if it's true but that makes it no less right.

Sometimes it's hard for me to find anything to say but last night an image came to mind which I was able to draw this morning. It's called 'Growth' and may become the basis of the next painting I work on.. or maybe not, but I thought to share it with you today. It's difficult to draw a person who appears ageless without making them look impossibly young. This is my attempt.

Do you believe that once we've left the egocentric and ethnocentric points of view behind and have gained the world and biocentric ground that there's still room for growth?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

haligonian cliff dwellers

Unlike the neighbors we won't have to look at this place while we're living there. A couple of weeks ago we got word from the attorney in Nova Scotia that it was time to prove our intention to live in Canada by being able to show a lease or mortgage agreement to the authorities reviewing our file. Our first thought was to go there and look but that didn't seem either cheap or very convenient so what we did was use the handy google satellite maps based on rentals advertised by the bigger property management companies.

We spent hours looking at buildings in Halifax and taking virtual walks around the neighborhoods that interest us and around the city in general. I got headaches from all the swooping and zooming past houses, buildings, parks and docks that matched up smoothly in the sense that we could walk through entire areas but disconcertingly through different seasons. Winter, summer, spring and fall viewed in the course of a mile or two was almost too much for my equilibrium even though I was sitting on the couch.

Eventually we settled on an apartment in the tallest building east of Montreal and described as an excellent example of brutalist architecture by wikipedia (hah!). Fenwick Tower does look to be quite the eyesore and we wondered how they'd got building permission in the first place until we read it was erected back in 1970 as student housing for Dalhousie University. That explained it. It's inarguably ugly but it does give us a place to live while we get to know the city and besides, our 18th floor place overlooks the harbor and is close to lots of interesting stuff downtown. I guess it's even possible we might grow to like living there. I know I'm looking forward to seeing the Tall Ships sail in some summer morning and we can always pretend we live in a lighthouse.

I resigned from my job yesterday as of mid-August; we plan to fly sometime in September. Hello, I must be going :-)

☃ ☃

If you ever happen by to read this you should really check the follow-up post.

Monday, June 14, 2010

beauty and suffering

This is a photograph of a friend of a friend of mine. His name is Tyke, an old horse who comes for his breakfast every morning and if breakfast is late he may even come up close to the house to peek in her bedroom window. This is a picture of beauty and suffering both and I'll try to explain what I mean.

Buddha said the essence of life is suffering which on first glance seems a pretty morbid point of view. It doesn't seem as though it's correct. Yet if we examine any moment when we feel really fulfilled and happy we find that pervasive undercurrent of tension that tells us this moment will soon end.

The bittersweet process of mourning is not always suffering. Sometimes it is appreciation and sometimes it is love. Would any child, upon the death of their beloved parent, wish that they had never loved their parent? The lifecycle of desire, appreciation, passing, and remembrance is a net-positive experience, and one of the true joys of life. To love someone unconditionally, truly for their own selves, is a reward in itself that can never be taken away. Separation from an object of desire does not always end in suffering, and when it does, it does not cancel out the enjoyment.

Suffering is universal. In spite of the differences in customs, traditions, language, literature, art, and philosophy every society understands that harsh reality. Of course there's more to life than suffering and to acknowledge beauty only in suffering would be unbalanced but after thinking about it for a long while I realized that suffering is ennobling. It inspires feelings of compassion and empathy. Tears and sadness felt in sympathy with another feels beautiful to me. It is compassion and empathy that bring people closer together and without mutual understanding, without empathy no true bond between human beings can exist. Joy can be shared as well but balance is the key. Great joy and sorrow are the extremes of emotions that meet one another in opposition and both cause tears.

Buddhists know that desire causes suffering, ambition is suffering, being trapped inside ourselves is suffering. Our natural state is to expand and share with others and our suffering makes us human because it's what pushes us toward our potential. The higher we go the greater the tendency to leak or even break the vessel that contains our limited view of ourselves.

There's nothing wrong with existence. It's perfect.. but it's also very transient and that is both sad and beautiful.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

heart's home

There are times when serenity is hard to find. Contentment isn't just about us as individuals and where we are at a particular place and time and whether or not we are replete with food and drink. We experience our lives as separate beings but we know deep down we are connected to one another. Sometimes there's a deep sadness that can't be explained.. and sometimes we know why but can't change the larger circumstance. It's time like these that I go in search of things that might cheer me and you as well.

I must thank my friend and fine artist Steve for introducing me to the work, especially the architecture, of Hundertwasser who was born in Austria in 1928 and spent his life not only imagining but building beautiful places for people to live in and enjoy.

A house,

an unusual house,

that does not correspond to

the usual cliches and norms

of academic architecture

a house conceived and designed
by a painter

an adventure in modern times

a journey to an unknown land

a journey into the land of creative architecture

where there are window rights
and tree tenants

and uncontrolled irregularities

uneven floors,
woodlands on the roof

spontaneous vegetation

and barriers of beauty

a journey into the land

where nature and man meet in creation

a report about the first free house

a painter dreams

a painter dreams about houses and

a beautiful architecture in which man is free

and this dream becomes a reality
- Hundertwasser

May we all find our heart's home.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

community property

A couple of weeks ago I posted about Banksy and other graffiti artists who run around late at night decorating urban architecture. I think it's a wonderful idea but not many of us are talented enough or energetic enough to adopt the lifestyle. Admittedly too, many examples of graffiti are little more than the results of unsightly vandalism or gang tags. So I began to wonder what an ordinary person could do to become an active participant in a form of subversive cultural protest without the likelihood of getting arrested? It was then that I discovered guerilla gardening.

Gardening on public or vacant land has been around for a long time but in the past few years it's become an international underground (☺) movement ever since Richard Reynolds wrote a book about his efforts. It began with him creeping out late at night from his apartment in East London, digging little holes, and popping in plants he'd grown on his windowsill. Here he is to tell you himself:

What all attempts at guerrilla gardening have in common is a deep challenge to relations to property. If the gardening isn’t illicit, if it isn’t on someone else’s land without their permission, then it isn’t guerrilla – it’s just gardening. I'm off to make my first seed bomb. Now is a good time to reface the planet one GARDEN at a time