simplicity: a great longing

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I approach my artist date (friday) with the desire to paint but I am conflicted. Conflicted by forces competing against the muse. This is nothing new and has hit this blog so many times that it is annoying. Like something you ate that won't digest properly. But I think there is something about our culture that inherently bars the muse. Complexity. Right now my desk looks like a tornado hit. But it is just normal daily living. Complexity. Every day when the mail arrives there is so much junk, so many offers, credit card offers, coupons, catalogs... Junk. Each one promising to make life a smidge better while demanding your attention if not just to be thrown away ten seconds after opening. (I would love to know the statistic on how much time is spent throughout a lifetime opening junk mail). Complexity. And now that Daniel is eighteen and has apparently landed on THE mailing list that announces "NEW consumer-going-to-college-easy-target", he is getting all sorts of junk mail from college loan offers to credit card offers, to dorm products and life insurance.


I long for simplicity.

While on Long Island interviewing Miss Ophelia she said something that reminded me of how different our worlds are. Her version of a complaint about the world becoming complex, but in comparison to ours, a paradise. She explained of how it used to be "way back when" they had one bill to pay (I am not sure what it was for at that time) but now (in a very incredulous tone) "We have three. Three bills!"

What I would give to have only three bills to pay.

For the sake of having so much, our culture literally drowns in its own wealth. We have so many options that precious time is spent in the selection of the things that we want to buy. This is one of the reasons I hate going to the grocery store. Too many options. We have come to expect everything to be offered in the fashion of a Starbucks menu. Too many choices.

I just want coffee.

How much do we really need, anyway? All this complexity (masquarading as choice) creates layers and layers of stuff that you have to wade through just to get to baseline. Baseline for me is that starting point from which an artist can create from. This starting point may have other factors working against it anyway (like health, difficult family surroundings, educational challenges, the list goes on). If an artist manages to have all of that together, is healthy (whole mentally, physically, and spiritually) and has worked their craft to the point that it is a comfortable skill, then they might be at baseline.

Except for the complexity.

Daily life in our culture makes it very hard to get to baseline. It is an achievement. Maybe that is why there are so many different types of pharmaceuticals offered up like candy (again, too many choices) to make our lives FEEL less complex while damaging our bodies in the process, putting us farther from our baseline.

I guess that is why today, facing my artist's date, I have this tug at my heart, a longing for my little island. Things seem so much simpler there (they get their mail by boat once a week). While I work very hard at maintaining my healthy baseline to create my art, it seemed easier there. Fewer barriers. The very air carries a vibe that imbues inspiration.

Maybe it is just the ocean wind.


Of course the irony in this is that my last post is all about research and choice. But really that is more about making wise decisions in the creative process. Like knowing how to wield a paint brush in pursuit of the masterpiece. It is more like choosing the plants that will create a beautiful garden than choosing a flavor of ice cream. One creates, the other consumes.

I would like to think that I am driven more by what I create than what I consume.

So today I will contemplate simplicity and pray against complexity, think about the clear waters on my little island...

and maybe the muse will appear.

1 Comment

i'm hearing you on the deep desire to keep things simple. money has me so freaked out right now - i can hardly write.

i read this quote from 'you've got mail' the other day on a friend's blog and it made me laugh:

"The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make 6 decisions just to buy 1 cup of coffee
Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, etc. So people who don't know what the hell they're doing or who on earth they are can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee but an absolutely defining sense of self: Tall. Decaf. Cappuccino.
Joe Fox: [exits]
Next customer in line: Tall decaf cappucino."

that just sums it up for me lately... glad to know i'm not alone!

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Blair published on August 4, 2006 8:45 AM.

creating an artist retreat; like planting a church was the previous entry in this blog.

formation is the next entry in this blog.

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