I received a request from a friend to speak on loving-kindness, more specifically loving-kindness towards oneself as artists. So I’d like to take this opportunity to focus on that subject.
First off, our first priority in life should be to have compassion towards oneself. We ultimately see our lives through to the end so we want to be able to offer unconditional love and kindness to oneself most, then in turn be able to accept others.
I use the title ‘Artist’ loosely for both myself and within this blog entry. The truth is that I use the title of artist to describe myself most to be able to explain my lifestyle to friends and family that have lifestyles that are far from what I do and who I am, not necessarily to inflate my ego in cultural circles.
Art is a way to tell truth; an explanation of where you are and the world around you. Vivienne Westwood has stated that all artists are freedom fighters; that we are able to work outside of the norm.
I have a friend, a brilliant downtown NYC artist and photographer, that has been distraught over the break up with a lover. In a recent conversation, I asked if he could ‘let it go?’ And all I received back was rage. ‘I can’t let it go!’ he said, ‘How?!’
Often because we are consumed with being ‘Artists’ we paint people, ourselves and situations in the light that we choose to see them. My friend is painting himself as victim. We identify with the image of who we are and what we do.
New York City is the capital of identifying what you do for a living with who you are. I do it often. Why? Because of fear that some part of me will be taken away if I am no longer tied to the title, the man, the image, whatever it may be.
The Buddha says that delusion and anger are easy to remove, that we do this by practicing loving-kindness.
When people think about attachment, they immediate think of it as attachment to others or things. When the worst form of attachment is being attached to our own view and opinions. It is understandable to be so strongly attached to one’s identity because we are so close to ourselves. Our image is what we primarily work on.
Facebook is an amazing place where you can see the whereabouts and happenings of individuals very clearly. A great specimen of manipulated identities. I have worked with many artists that have produced amazing pieces with me as the subject, many posted to my facebook page. I am grateful to have this. However, what has caused me rage and anger in the past is when I see individuals manipulating their online identities in the same fashion as I.
It is inevitable that artists will pull from works of others before us to search for the ultimate truth and original work. I constantly ask myself if any of my produced works are truly original. This is when the ‘You stole my look!’ moment develops.
However, the truth is that I don’t OWN my look, the looks OWN me. My identity is attached and causing suffering and anger.
When the anger comes, it’s important for me to see it through and see it out. Identify with the feelings and understand that they will change. That I have painted the image of myself in my own mind and that it is not permanent. It’s necessary to free oneself of these attachments. Often I have to meditate, go on a walk, bike ride, run, swim, dance by myself, enter into a state where its just me sans distractions.
There’s a freedom there and it only comes when developing loving kindness towards oneself. Acceptance is key.
Life is totally unpredictable. Someone will break your heart. Someone will steal your look. Shit happens.
I challenge you readers to be a chameleon. Be loving and kind to yourself. Be happy and be free of attachments. Be liberated.
Lots of Love,
PS. I will shortly be leaving the comforts of urban living for a week to celebrate Beltane with 700+ radical faeries in the Tennessee woods. I have no doubt that lots will come from this trip that will fuel the next blog entry. Please stay posted.
*The above photograph is by Dietmar Busse and the painting is Bronzino’s ‘Portrait of a Young Man’, 1530s.