feel the felt, uncool the cool

Posted by on Jan 15, 2011 in Art, Buddhism | No Comments

Usually small, often lumpy or a little misshapen, very sweet and invariably a bit uncool, and almost always soft because of its many iterations through many hands and many hearts. Think Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. Or that new little soul on the block who reallyreallyreally wants to be friends. Or, in my case, a sacred splat of felt.

My dogs barked. A new friend, unheard by my unhearing ears, departed. And I stayed at my computer, because I am writingwritingwritingwriting about my spiritual path, which I am realizing is my diffident way of admitting that I am seeking enlightenment…. which just sounds so presumptuous, doesn’t it?

And enlightenment almost sat on my porch all night. “Ae. Here is the holy article I mentioned. I hope it brings you to nirvana. xoD.” That the holy and hope are ever shared, much less just given away, is the greatest evidence I will ever need that nirvana walks among us. Seek and ye shall find. Begin anything and anything will soon enough start trotting along beside you like a divine puppy dog.

About four years ago, I began writing. I began admitting that I stare at books and out windows a lot, thinking about stuff that is considered sacred. I felt nervous. I felt a little presumptuous, like I should be doing something more substantively productive, like even after twenty years and two babies and building up enough resources that I actually could try producing things of other than monetary value anyway, I just SHOULD be doing something else anyway. Progeny of Republicans often feel this way.

But, I began to let myself off the hook of intention or conviction anyway. Maybe I’ve just gotten old enough, and failed enough at other things, to go ahead and just do what I do anyway. How much I wish to encourage any other soul to not wait to get old enough, but instead to get going on whatever lightens your load now. Get it? EnLIGHTenment. Because, the sooner you do, the sooner the universe will start saying “Cool!” in ways you always hoped it would. New and now voices start to speak up. Kindred spirits materialize. Connections grow. Comprehension does, too.

Nineteen years ago, I thumbtacked to the wall of my studio a copy of a letter from conceptual artist Sol LeWitt to a younger, but about to be groundbreaking, sculptor named Eva Hesse. “You seem to be yourself, and being you, hate every minute of it. Don’t! Learn to say ‘Fuck You’ to the world once in a while. You have every right to. Just stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting, hoping for some easy way out, struggling, grasping, confusing, itching, scratching, mumbling, bumbling, grumbling, humbling, stumbling, numbling, rumbling, gambling, tumbling, scumbling, scrambling, hitching, hatching, bitching, moaning, groaning, honing, boning, horse-shitting, hair-splitting, nit-picking, piss-trickling, nose sticking, ass-gouging, eyeball-poking, finger-pointing, alleyway-sneaking, long waiting, small stepping, evil-eyeing, back-scratching, searching, perching, besmirching, grinding, grinding, grinding away at yourself. Stop it and just DO!

Don’t worry about cool, make your own uncool. Make your own, your own world. You must practice being stupid, dumb, unthinking, empty. Then you will be able to DO! I have much confidence in you and even though you are tormenting yourself, the work you do is very good. Try to do some BAD work—the worst you can think of and see what happens but mainly relax and let everything go to hell….”

A really incredible artist just left a handmade felted wool meditation mat on my doorstep. It’s sort of incredibly uncool, in the most beautiful way.  A flowery red root chakra is listing a little bit in the middle. It’s generally white but looks a little “pre”–dirty. It is the softest encouragement I have ever felt in my life. I would have never known the friendship of this artist if I had not started writing. I would not understand the beauty of her art, or of Sol LeWitt’s or Eva Hesse’s, or of chakras and prayer mats and every little thing and a few cosmic ones as well, if I hadn’t been seeking them. With the comfort and connection of them, I can DO anything.