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Posts Tagged ‘Wisdom’

c. Susan Sorrell Hill

The Illustration Friday word of the week is double.

Wizards and avatars aside, most of us cannot be in more than one place at a time, and virtually none of us will live forever. As a result of these limitations, life in a human body will be mostly about making choices.

It is an archetypal situation that pairs, or doubles, the seeming contraries of Joy and Grief. No matter how joyful it can be to choose something, inherent in every choice will be the other thing(s) not chosen… the other man, the other career, the other road… the other dinner entrée. It is the classic bitter-sweet experience… and one that becomes more pronounced as one’s years accumulate and death approaches. Perhaps humans have evolved beliefs in things like reincarnation and a heaven to compensate for the sense of things missed?

Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung (1875-1961), popularized the archetype of the puer aeternus, the eternal boy (or puella, girl), but it is a truth that has been around far longer than the recording of myth. The Puer embodies the very human resistance to the necessity of making choices in life, and the resistance to the limitations that are invariably part of those choices. The Puer in us wants to have it all… and with no consequences whatsoever! It is a stance on life that is not workable in the long-term. And it is a stance on life that cheats the Soul out of its learning experiences.

In The Book of Runes, Ralph Blum states that “The ability to foresee consequences before you act is a mark of the profound person.” But sometimes only negative consequences can be seen in the moment of choosing: options lost, forks in the road, doors closed. How do we choose wisely? By “… choosing with the heart, not the mind,” say all great teachers. By choosing what we love most, and would be most sorry to have missed…

The fear of making choices, popularized by the well-worn phrase, “Fear of Committment,” over-emphasizes the loss inherent in choice-making, and usually fails to take into account the joy of making a choice… a choice which naturally leads to more choices and more choices again, as a tree branches out from its trunk. To make a choice is not a dead-end. It is only the next step, the beginning of something new. ‘Choosing from the heart’ does require a healthy amount of faith and wisdom…faith that there will be no wrong choices… only lessons and more lessons… and the joy (and grief) of choosing once again.

What’s for dinner?

“Contemplation” (watercolor, pen & ink)

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c. Susan Sorrell Hill

The Illustration Friday word of the week is ahead.

In my world, ahead is another word for the future. No… not the Back to the Future kind, but the kind that exists inside my very own head. Admittedly, it’s a place I spend a lot of time in… Trying to simultaneously exist in this studio moment and the future, I observe myself wondering… “Will the painting I’m making work out? Will anyone love it? Will I alienate everyone, and be pronounced a hack? Should I get a regular job and end the misery? What’s for dinner… ?”

Of course, any bystander could tell me that this train of thought(s) is all a huge drain on my batteries, and especially on my creative batteries. But it seems to be a mental loop that runs pretty much on automatic. Most embarrassing to admit. I have gotten to the point where I can frequently ignore those monkey-mind voices and work anyway, but the fact that they are still there in the background is not something that I am proud of. I wish they would go away and leave me in peace… I take only a small bit of comfort in knowing that this mental state is largely ‘par’ for the human condition.

Conventional wisdom says that Time is linear—comprised of Past, Present and Future. But many spiritual teachers and mystics state that there is only NOW. In the past or in the future, everything was, or will still be, NOW. Yes, it’s a lot to wrap a little lump of cerebral cortex around…

Unfortunately, my mind is not usually content to hang out solely in the this NOW… everywhere else but here always looks so much more inviting, less problematic… and probably was, or will be, so much better than it is now. The contemporary spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now, has written and taught extensively about this dilemma. Although he is not speaking specifically to the artist crowd, he is very clear that the full experience of being alive, not to mention any guidance that may be available, can only be experienced in this NOW. (I know from personal experience that this available guidance can even include practical information like what color to paint next, or even what to draw in the first place…)

I’m still trudging away on this journey back to the NOW… I’ll meet you there?

“Bird Thoughts (watercolor, pen and ink, colored pencil)

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c. Susan Sorrell Hill

This week’s Illustration Friday topic is linked.

I may well lose half of my reading audience after this, but today I want to talk about the dreaded G– word!

Quickly, so as not to lose all of those folks, I assure you that my point of view here–really, that’s all it is–is much, much broader than any particular religious stand… It’s more of a philosophical view, more of a perspective on the nature of ‘reality.’ Being neither physicist nor religious person, my view has formed from a lifetime of wide reading, an observation of nature, and much contemplation. It is most closely allied with eastern, ancient and native cultural thought.

In the arts world, the work of the Impressionist ‘pointillist’ painter, Georges Seurat (1859-1891) comes closest to depicting my feeling of God. In his paintings, there are no lines, no boundaries. Points of color comprise everything, overlapping but staying distinctly themselves too. His depicts a fluid, interconnected world.

Which brings me back to this week’s Illustration Friday topic linked. Simply stated, my feeling is that ‘God’ is everywhere, knows everything, sees everything, IS everything. In this world view, we and everything we can see, taste, and touch are the substance of this thing called God. This definition of God is indeed mind-numbing, unknowable, a profound Mystery… a subject worthy of a lifetime of contemplation. And the implications of such a belief are far-reaching… Isn’t that so much more Soul-satisfying than a belief in the white-bearded man on a cloud, keeping score? The story teller in me, and the Inner Child who still believes in magic, really likes to think so…

And so, I leave you with my painting “Everywhere” (watercolor, gouache). A God that (benevolently) sees all, knows all, is linked to all, IS all… and there,right in the middle of IT, is this thing called Little Me. I haven’t worked out the details on that last bit yet.

(I had a feeling that, eventually, “just making art” would lead to wild controversy…)

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Inner Wisdom

c. Susan Sorrell Hill

I have been thinking lately about the similarities between humans and their computers. Now, I suppose this should come as no surprise at all because humans invented computers… and “like father, like son” or, as in the ancient expression… “the prune does not fall far from the tree…” Nevertheless, I find some of the similarities a little unsettling. Take, for example, the concept of ‘external hard drive.’ Even a non-technical person like myself can recognize the value of a ‘back up’ for all of one’s precious information, photos and sources. But if viewed from the perspective of similarity between computer and human, the analogy becomes a disturbing reflection of a common human behavior.

‘External hard drive’ when viewed from the human perspective might reflect that we, as humans, tend to look for our value, our worth, and the meaning and directions for our lives… outside of ourselves. At first glance, most of us would say that “No, of course I don’t do that!” But how many of us are influenced–if only unconsciously–by fashion, polls, gossip, diets, styles-in-whatever-category, newspapers, magazines, the News, TV, peers, friends and family?

I am taking the long way around to make a point, I know…

The point I wish to make is that, for humans, this tendency toward ‘external hard drive’ can be a habitual denial of one’s own valuable uniqueness. (And for those of us who are artists, it is a rejection of the Muse from whence our creativity comes.) The world does not need one more person (or artist) who is just like so-and-so…. The world needs more people (and more artists) who are willing to turn towards his or her own Inner Wisdom for  guidance about how to live, what to do (and what to make). The world needs as many unique perspectives on Life as it can get. We need the full three hundred and sixty degree view of what Life is… or can be…

To quote Dane Rudhyar, “When you don’t follow your nature, there is a hole in the universe where you were supposed to be.”

“Inner Wisdom” (oil on canvas)

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