Posted in Lost in Thought, Observations

Less Fear, More Adventure

I’m busier and more energetic than I was during previous months, but lurking under all of that is a feeling of sadness. I won’t say that I don’t know why… it would surprise me if there was even one person under the sun who doesn’t know the feeling. The more connected and involved you are, the more deeply buried is that discomfort, but it will surface eventually.

I think a lot of it is because things change so fast. You have parents, grandparents and friends at school, then suddenly it’s just your parents (maybe one parent), and friends at university (different friends)… then you are working and living somewhere else. You have pets, and when they die, you soothe your grief with new kittens or puppies, who grow old in their turn.

With every year, your past drops more and more behind, and all of a sudden you wake in the middle of the night and realize the sheer weight of all of the things you don’t have any more, some of which you didn’t even notice stopping or going away.

Every year it gets worse. The things and people you have right now, most of which you take for granted even while you love and appreciate them, will one day be mist and memories like everything else.

Even as you look around the room, paying more attention to your surroundings than you normally do, there’s something unsatisfying about the experience. Objects fade into hazy dimness after your gaze moves on, and it’s as though your here and now isn’t real… in fact, it isn’t! The moment is already gone, and what’s no longer in your sight (even while still in the room) is just memory… if that.

Your mind is the same — like your gaze, it moves over objects and environment, spotlighting things for as long as you care to dwell, then letting them slide into the dark. Having gone into that dark, it can be a struggle for some things to ever reappear again!

It turns into a merry-go-round or baggage carousel, with your thoughts as the same oddly shaped baggage passing time after time. There’s the big blue trunk… the drab rucksack… the red vanity case. The big blue trunk again — I’ll need it soon, but the moment’s not right. The red vanity case… so bright and pretty nobody would ever forget about it. Wasn’t there another one? What was it again, and do I care? I’m comfortable enough without it. Oh wait, the drab rucksack! I do need that because my documents are in it.

On some days the same bags pass repeatedly, and I can never understand why they don’t stay put in my mind for when I need them. Instead, they are doomed to constantly disappear, and when they reappear, I’m as surprised as I was the first time.

Some nights I use a particular thought to comfort myself, as though I’ve found a cosy spot and collected the red vanity case onto my knees. I open it and spend time admiring the colourful contents and inhaling favourite perfumes. I don’t move on from that for a while, but eventually my mind drifts away of its own accord, sometimes to scarier places. Finally those thoughts too, flit away, and I fall asleep.

I feel quite sorry for us as living beings. We aspire to be more, but are mere flashes of light and electricity; sparkling stardust and water. Amongst each other we walk, striving to keep each other fixed and secure, but things continually move on and change. New technologies become old in no time at all, and the sands shift beneath our feet.

And yet… nothing has changed at all. We’re the same people, living the same lives. I feel as though I’m living a life that somebody else has lived before me, experiencing trials and tribulations that troubled someone else in another age. The same words are used over and over through the generations… right, left, poverty, trade, global, independence, freedom, nation, kindness, love, fellowship, hope, despair. The old forces still stalk the land. We invent things… then decide the way we did things in the past were better, often because they were.

I’m rambling now; thoughts passing by repeatedly. I don’t know any more if they are connected — I’m just lighting on each one in turn.

This doesn’t mean we should cling to possessions no matter what. My family used to collect books, cameras, postcards, cat ornaments, Piggin ornaments, teddy bears, model cars… We also used to get into hobbies like silk painting, machine knitting, cross stitch, beadwork and more. Stuff built up around us and became a burden.

We made serious moves to declutter. The house is emptier but feels easier to clean and move around in. Things are easier to find. I remember a few items with regret and nostalgia, but in general there’s nothing I miss or would have back. I wish we had never accumulated so much stuff — it sat around for years and got in the way! Wasted space, wasted money, wasted energy.

We are more cautious buyers these days. The things we keep are those we really love or appreciate. Like everyone, we are limited… limited in energy, scope, memory, appetite, patience and time.

I’m not sure what the world would be like if there were no limits in what we could have, do or remember! That sounds like a dream come true, but if nothing was fresh and new any more, imagine the boredom. It’s nice for things (and living beings) to constantly renew; not just corporeal forms but also minds and personal experience — for young lambs to be born for whom the world is still a shining wonder. For those of us who have lived some time, forgetting may have its issues, but it’s also a part of healing.

Perhaps, instead of grieving after what we have lost, we should look forward to whatever might still come into our lives; new loves we don’t yet know… even if it’s only more space and greater peace, or a more unpredictable and adventurous life.

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Posted in Health Issues, Lost in Thought

Mindfulness Experiment Gone Awry

A good way of escaping unwelcome introspection, I’ve read, is to imagine yourself in the ocean. The colourful fish swimming past you are your thoughts — you observe them swimming past, perhaps going round you a few times, then they are gone.

My initial reaction, really, is that I don’t want to be in the ocean! Just yesterday I viewed a photo of sting-rays and sharks nosing sharply around, and that’s the image that came to mind when I read the above idea.

Some of my thoughts might well be sharks, not clown fish. I wonder how many other people out there would empathize with this? Well, let’s just go with this mental image for a while, and see what happens. Here’s me floating in the murky sea water, surrounded by flitting predatorial shapes.

What is this shark? He’s looking right in my face, like the old fellow from that turtle film, Sammy’s Adventures. What does he represent?

Whoa!

When I started the exercise, I closed my eyes and visualized a 3D cartoon image because of remembering about Sammy the turtle, then linked the looming shark to the worries in my mind. Instantly, the oceans closed in. Depths dropped away below me, all my friends were gone, no safety anywhere. Nothing was in my future but cold drowning and too many teeth.

Do what you do with a nightmare — banish it. Swim back up for a few breaths of fresh air. I don’t think that’s what they had in mind… I’m supposed to be relaxing happily, my thoughts swimming past and disappearing unchallenged. How do you let go of a big grey Thought that’s taking far too much interest in you?

Summoning it up in that form may have been a mistake, unless I take control and cause it to swim away. Is that doable? No, it’s just hanging there in the water, staring at me. I can’t imagine it gone. Even if it swam off, it would circle round then return.

“Do I look like food to you?” as Sammy said to the wee red fish, who grinned toothily and nodded. This is not my idea of relaxation. Maybe I could try an inflatable swimming pool instead?

Hmm… Ground feels bumpy underneath, but at least nothing is swimming around in here. (Feels around dubiously). There’s grit in the pool, and bits of grass. When I climbed in, I took bits of the lawn with me, stuck to the soles of my feet. Irritating.

Any minute now, somebody’s going to scream at me to come in for lunch.

Posted in Lost in Thought

“Don’t Change For Anyone”

A couple of years ago, I said something to someone that I later thought a little aggressive, though unintentionally so. I apologized, saying it wasn’t like me to use such phrasing, and he said it was fine… “don’t ever change for anyone.”

I took that as politely expressed agreement that it wasn’t my sort of thing! Whatever he meant, his comment occasionally returns to my mind. Should I change who I am, what I do, how I talk, to suit others?

This isn’t a question to the outside world. Without context, a response would be too black and white… but in the way I mean it, knowing my own good intentions, I realize I shouldn’t.

Posted in Art, Music I Like, Videos

Shadows on the Hills

Thomas was talking here about a poster he used to have (Woody Guthrie), and the first song into my head was Don McLean’s Vincent — the one that begins Starry, Starry Night. I shouldn’t wonder if I was influenced by an earlier post of Thomas’s! But it’s a calming song, full of profound acceptance. It’s not about whether you fit in, and it’s not about the shackles you bind yourself with… it’s about what you see and know.

Here’s a poster I used to have in my bedroom… The High Couch of Silistra by Boris Vallejo. With its leathery wings, it flies in the face of what I’ve said above, but we’re sharing our old posters here. πŸ™‚

PS I have no personal experience of the poster site, so I can’t vouch for it myself.

Posted in Hearing Loss, Political and Social Issues

Making the World Understand

From the BBC News Magazine:

Making the World Understand My Face

Sometimes I think the problem is precisely that the population is so huge; there’s always someone new you have to explain yourself to, whether you’re dealing with disfigurement, deafness, blindness, poor health etc. I agree with what is said about beauty standards getting narrower; I think men (and women) imagine that if they keep looking, they will find someone perfect in every way — someone tall with white teeth, smoothly tanned skin and glossy hair, bouncing with confidence and charm. In fact, when I look around, most people are quite ordinary, including the better looking ones.

I saw a show with a couple of men who were sizing up the younger women in the group. They said one wasn’t bad but she was a bit small up top… I thought it was cheeky of them to look at all, never mind comment! They were a dead loss as men went, really, but I feel they have been brainwashed into believing that there is a perfect standard that all women should measure up to; they themselves expect nothing less in their partners and would blush to be caught out by their peers going around with a girl who was not some kind of supermodel. In such a large population, perhaps they feel they can afford to be picky.

Posted in Art

How Do We Define Art?

Today I read a post by Pacian at Space Cat Rocketship which had me mulling. “Can art be interactive?” Apparently there’s some disagreement on that. Indeed, he asks, what IS art?

Individual definitions

This may seem a strange place to start my analysis, but the cat world is full of people saying “I grew up with non-pedigrees and so I will only accept a cat with the basic non-pedigree shape – any other type is not a real cat.” I’ve heard that repeatedly. The point I’m making is that it’s not only art that people define from narrow personal standpoints. It’s another way of saying “I don’t like it, and so I don’t accept it.” That doesn’t mean such a definition is correct.

Many of us think of ‘real art’ as being something beautiful, no matter who created it or why. Thus we feel entitled to say of something, “that’s not good or beautiful and therefore it’s not art”, ignoring the fact that our personal idea of beauty (or worth) is not definitive.

An official definition

My Mac Widget dictionary (Oxford American Dictionaries) says art is

“the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form, such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.”

It adds that art is

“creative activity resulting in the production of paintings, drawings or sculpture”

Those definitions seem somewhat on the exclusive side. The dictionary (or my widget version of it) doesn’t mention games, films, architecture or even photography; though under ‘the arts’ it lists ‘the various branches of creative activity, such as painting, music, literature, and dance.’ It claims art is ‘typically’ visual, but that’s not an exclusive term. It just indicates that a painting or sculpture is the first thing we think of.

‘works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power’

Can something be art if its primary reason for existence is to be useful? Can a house or computer be art, or an exquisitely embroidered handbag? Going by the the Oxford American Dictionary’s definition, if beauty is not an object’s primary reason for existing, then it’s not art. But if someone intentionally made it beautiful, how is it that it’s not art any more? To me that doesn’t make sense.

It could be argued that films and games were created with other purposes in mind – to entertain, tell a story, educate or increase our skills – and that they are therefore not art. I would disagree, because something useful can still be made beautiful – that’s a choice we have. We entertain people by engaging their interest, and ‘typically’ do that with the application of certain creative processes – we make the films, games etc beautiful or emotionally powerful. If we can do that with a book, we can do that with a film or a computer game. We might not think a certain film was particularly well made, but that doesn’t mean it’s not art – it’s just a poor example of its particular genre.

‘human creative skill and imagination’

If an animal or bird created something to please itself or attract others, wouldn’t that be art? The bird danced in order to attract another… there’s no need to assume that only a human being can appreciate rhythm, beauty and passion, or that only a human being can cultivate creative skills.

On the other hand, sunsets are sometimes described as Nature’s artwork… the problem I have with that is that sunsets weren’t deliberately made beautiful; they are a by-product of natural processes. If you believe in a supreme creative being with an eye for beauty, it’s art. If you believe it’s just nature on the beat with suns, planets and orbits, then art doesn’t even come into it.

A photograph of a sunset is art – human art. Skill, technique and ‘a good eye’ usually produce the difference between an average photo and a spectacular one.

‘the expression or application of … creative skill and imagination’

An unmade bed can’t be art if you got up one morning and thought “that’s pretty – I’ll leave that as it is”. You didn’t lie in it with the intention of making it attractive. Most viewers are likely to think “it’s not tidy or clean” – that’s an emotional reaction but not an appreciative one.

Hopefully my analysis didn’t go horribly astray, but it would be interesting to know how others define art?

Blue Fractal
Blue Fractal

Β© 2007, two Tierazon fractals
layered together and postworked in Photoshop Elements
by Diddums

Comments for this entry (during its previous life on Blogigo):

1. Udge wrote at Jul 30, 2007 at 22:47: Right, the fractal is art because it has no context of usefulness. Give it numbered X and Y axes and refer to it by footnotes in a mathematical text and it ceases to be art.

2. Diddums wrote at Jul 30, 2007 at 23:01: Hmmm…. (ponders).

3. Pacian wrote at Jul 30, 2007 at 23:19: Nicely put.

“There’s no need to assume that only a human being can appreciate rhythm, beauty and passion, or that only a human being can cultivate creative skills.”

I would also reverse that, and say that we have no need to assume that a human’s appreciation of rhythm, beauty and passion don’t stem from the same kind of natural instincts as the bird’s dance.

4. Geosomin wrote at Jul 31, 2007 at 03:07: I like art that evokes an emotion. Even if it’s one of strong dislike, being able to evoke a response form someone would be the height of joy for me if I were an artist. I would agree with Pacian, as there are so many definitions of “art” that I often catch myself going That isn’t art…but then I have to remember…it’s just not art to me. To me anything that is created by someone with a bit of “them” in it can be art…music, dance…
I’d say more but my pizza just arrived.
Bye:)

5. Diddums wrote at Jul 31, 2007 at 03:24: Pizza? I was just off to bed, and now you’ve made me all hungry! Does it have black olives on it?

You might be right about that – anything with a bit of input from somebody, presented by that somebody… maybe. My ideas of art broadened after thinking about this – it can be hard to consider something fairly abstract or random and realize it’s still included.

Pacian, I’m glad you said that about the natural instincts – I had a thought like that winding around when I was writing about sunsets. A sunset in itself wouldn’t be art, but it’s part of the mainspring of art (or our taste in art… maybe that makes more sense). Right now I would give it all up for that pizza.

6. Snoskred wrote at Jul 31, 2007 at 10:01: I sometimes think art can be things that are “ugly”, too. It just has to make you think.

Putting this aside for my wrap up – very thought provoking!

Snoskred
http://www.snoskred.org/

7. Diddums wrote at Aug 1, 2007 at 21:23: Thanks, Snoskred – it’s made me think as well. I never thought of art as being something that could set out to be ugly deliberately, though a horror film will deliberately set out to horrify! It’s food for thought.

8. The Goldfish wrote at Aug 2, 2007 at 23:13: I wanted to leave a comment on this post just to say I enjoyed the discussion. Never found a satisfactory answer myself, but it is always interesting to read other’s considered thoughts on the matter.

Posted in Life and Family, Lost in Thought

Tranquillity

Mood: Quiet
Listening to: The slow dance of the stars

It doesn’t matter how tired or bad I feel about anything – I have basic peace of mind. It’s the thing that says “nothing matters,” and “it will all be the same in a hundred years.” It also says “your family’s there for you; even the ones who are dead and gone will forever be in your background. Nothing can alter that.” Mum says I look astonishingly like her mother. They looked like each other, though she doesn’t agree. I must be one of the few women around who accepts the words “you are just like your mother” as a compliment. I don’t know how it is that I can be feeling like a cracked cup in a reject shop, turn around and hold close to thoughts about the the dark night and the stars; all the centuries before and the centuries after… and lie quiet again. It’s a long time and a lot of darkness – but we were here once… warm and real.