Sunday, May 10, 2009

Don't do yourself an indignity

10 minute sketch of a co-worker's motorcycle, time siezed during a break at work

My earliest upbringing was in one of those religious traditions that teaches that there are not only sins we commit, but sins we have by failing to do something (fancifully deemed "sins of commission, and sins of omission.")

My best friend in my early high school years was Jewish, and he used to complain about how his mother would pour on the guilt for this or that occasion. I'd hear him through, then ask, "Is that it?! Is that the best she could do? Now I know what they say is true... the Jews may have invented guilt, but the Catholics perfected it." Poor David's guilt trips never held a candle to my mother's blazing fusion-stoked fires.

I've come to think that most of the guilt that was assumed about me was largely from someone else's projection, that is, they assumed I must be guilty of all the things they were guilty of (and then some.) I was not being seen with clarity. I was a child, an innocent child, who had little interest in doing wrong.

The result was a strait jacket, in which one's moral compass is surrounded by interfering magnets, placed there by misguided parents, teachers and priests, and every decision seemed freighted with unknown, and still less understood, moral hazards. My direction became muddy, and my own purpose was unclear. So, I continue to labor to free myself of these lodestones, by understanding best my true role in the world, my true purpose and most worthy efforts. It is still a minefield of uncertainty, because the map was so egregiously smeared. One thing helps: keeping an eye on where I'm supposed to be going.

So, I loved this passage I read last night in Julie Cameron's Vein of Gold:
One of the lies we tell ourselves is that if we do not let ourselves love completely, then we will be less hurt. Loving in a halfhearted manner, pursuing our dreams in a halfhearted manner, we are divided against ourselves. We do ourselves the indignity of not taking ourselves seriously, and we do our creative projects the serious injustice of refusing to visualize them with clarity. Because clarity of vision is a trigger to manifestation, our self-protective desire to hedge our bets can result in our projects not coming to fruition.
I realize I love a few things, still... my wife, my son, and art (Happy Mother's Day, ArtLady; and to my son: you've been a pleasure to raise). And I love that we have (only) a few years to work these things out to the best of our abilities.

Be passionate. You have nothing more to lose, and everything to gain.

7 comments:

Barbara M. said...

Wow Arty Edgar,

I love this post! I love Julia Cameron too, and she is so bang on. The indignity of apathy is something. But correction here, the Catholics have nothing on the a-religious folks. We had guilt twisted into our souls like hot knives and we were already Canadian, which meant we had to say sorry at the beginning of every sentence. (This reminds me of a Monty Python skit).

Love the bike sketch. Keep drawing. If you've figured out that you love your wife and son, you're way ahead of the pack.

Take care,

Barbara

Frank Gardner said...

Good stuff Edgar. Here's to your passions.

Edgar said...

Barbara— Thanks, I'm trying to keep my head above water... drawing does seem to help me float— and that's a way to circumvent the guilt, to.

Frank— So nice of you to drop by. Thanks for the toast. I'll drink to yours as well.

r garriott said...

A brilliant post... thanks for putting into words what surviving 12 years of parochial school is like. Decades later, I'm still sorting that stuff out.

Nice 10 minute sktch as well!

silvina said...

"clarity of vision is a trigger to manifestation" words to live by. This means we have to commit to deciding what we really want.

I say no to guilt! Yes to grace.

Edgar said...

r garriott—There are "recovering catholics" everywhere. Just take one day at a time.

Silvina—If only I could keep words to live by in my head. Maybe a tattoo would help, or ten thousand tattoos.

Patrice said...

Great post and a great passage from JC. I wasn't raised Catholic - but my father was a fundamentalist minister... (nuff said) and I grew up with many, many fears. Fear of disappointing and fear of wanting too much were the ones that held me back. It was many years before I realized I feared my artistic ambitions as if they were sins of pride, greed and gluttony.

It's so difficult to put aside the lessons of childhood, even if what was learned was misinformation.