Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Late Afternoon Meditation After Looking Up On September 29, 2014

Don't be afraid to cry. It will free your mind of sorrowful thoughts.
(Don Taleyesva, Hopi)

Laughter is a necessity in life that does not cost much, and the Old Ones say that one of the greatest healing powers in our life is the ability to laugh.
(Larry P. Aitken, Chippewa)

Quotes from this book by Don L. Coyhis -- a gift from my friend, Kathy.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Through the rainbow series: #3

Here is the set of 24 watercolor pencils that I am using for this series. This palette is called "Walk to the Sea." No wonder I love these colors. I bought this set at the Bellingham Community Food Co-op some time ago. The sketchpad came from the Dakota Art store. Now I understand why the colors are named as they are:

fog rolls in
along the lane

rabbit boots
hop skip jump

squirrel jacket
dew at 5 am

carmine bird

While I was working on mandala #3, I wasn't able to keep everything as symmetrical as I wished. Oh well. It looks fine to me anyway. I don't need to aim for Fearful Symmetry. Leave that to some immortal hand or eye. Progress not perfection.

For this mandala, I started with "dandelion" and made my way through the rainbow to "tupelo honey." I haven't been using "biscuit festival," "fog rolls in," "wildfire," "teddy bear," "brown bear," or "picket fence." I use "grizzly bear" to date each mandala.  At some point, I could made some mandalas with the browns and the grey. 

It feels good to watch this unfold.  I feel better than I have felt in a long time. The counselor I am working with in regard to my war-related PTSD suggested processing my experiences through art work. I am grateful to her for that suggestion. 

From 1980 to 1991, I did process much of my old trauma, but beginning with the First Gulf War and with the wars that have followed there was new trauma that had the effect of blocking me from drawing and painting. This blog has been my creative outlet for almost 8 years, and there have been a few times when I have been able to paint or draw or weave in addition to writing blog posts and taking photographs:

Now seems to be a time for fearless and asymmetrical mandalas. Start at the center and move outward. Anyone can make one or be one. Each one unique.

P.S. Somehow I lost control of the fonts and text sizes and colors as I worked on this blog post today. 

Oh well (-:

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Mandala #1: Through the rainbow

Yesterday I began with red and worked my way through the rainbow.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The return of laughter

Friends at a flea market in Bellingham. Our laughter is sacred and helps us survive and thrive.

The true end of a war is the rebirth of life;
the right to die peacefully in your own bed.
The true end of war is the end of fear;
the true end of war is the return of laughter.

-- Alfred Molano

(Photo by anonymous photographer, posted with permission from Kathy)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Sorrow of war meditation

An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.
(Mahatma Gandhi)

Sunday, September 7, 2014


On the darkest day
Light clear white seen
Sound of wind heard
Presence by her skin felt
Those mysterious gifts shared
No God and no Not-God either
And yes, yes, yes

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Bob the Baptiste and the Rose and the Sacred Ordinary

Tickets go on sale tomorrow for Bob Dylan and His Band in Seattle in October.  I am asking myself if I want to buy a ticket for the Sunday evening concert at the Paramount Theater, which is where I thought I had seen Bob Dylan in concert in 1981, among other years. When I go to the Bob Dylan website to look to find that concert in 1981, I am puzzled to see that according to the website, there were no concerts in Seattle in 1981, and that the two concerts in 1980 at the Paramount Theater were on November 29 and November 30.

Hmmm.  This is very odd.  My memory of that concert is that it happened not long after John Lennon was murdered on December 8, 1980.  I was 31 years old that year.  The concert was part of the "Gospel Tour." I wasn't about to become a Christian, but I was curious about Bob's newfound passion for Jesus.  I recall that I wanted to see Bob Dylan from as close a spot as possible and that I left my seat and made my way down to the steps to the left of the stage and sat on a step about 20 feet away from Bob Dylan.  As I sat there I had the thought that no matter how close I got to Bob Dylan, it wouldn't be close enough.  He was a huge part of the myth of my life, but I was not part of his life and never would be, and suddenly that was fine with me.  I didn't need to get any closer.  All I needed to do was listen at a respectful distance.

As I watched Bob Dylan sing, someone threw a red rose up on the stage, and it landed right in front of Bob.  I will never forget the startled look on his face, the way he winced, and how his entire body appeared to react in apprehension.  He moved backward as if his life were in danger.  He not only moved backward but soon paused in his singing and let his band play for awhile before stepping forward and resuming singing. Immediately I thought of John Lennon's murder and how vulnerable Bob Dylan was to the same kind of death.  His body language made me think that he was consciously (or unconsciously) aware of the real possibility of a fan killing him, too.  When I went back to my seat, I was sustained by the knowledge that I truly didn't need to get any closer to Bob Dylan, and with tremendous respect for his courage each time he walked out on stage.

How could I have that memory if the concert took place before John Lennon's death? Perhaps John Lennon's death was still quite fresh in my mind in 1992, the next time Bob Dylan played at the Paramount Theater.  Now that I think of it, it must have been 1992.  Yes.  In my mind I can only see Bob Dylan and his band on the small stage, and I don't see his back-up gospel singers anywhere.

At another concert in Vancouver, B.C., which must have been in 1993 (according the set list on the Bob Dylan website), I again left my seat.  I wanted to get closer to the stage as he sang "Girl From The North Country" as an encore.  This time the concert was not in a small theater setting.  There were no steps to sit on.  There was only a concrete platform on the left, quite some distance from the stage, where I was not alone in wanting to see Bob from as close as possible.  From that distance,  I was again struck by his vulnerability. He looked fragile.  For the rest of the concert, the sound had been so loud that it was close to being unbearable.  It had taken all my efforts to figure out what he was singing because the song arrangements were unfamiliar and jarring. For that final song, though, the sound was turned down to an intimate level, and he sang in a different voice, in what seemed to me to be a generous and humble voice. That was the last Bob Dylan concert I attended.

Now I really am bewildered.  I don't recall going to a Bob Dylan concert two years in a row, but according to Bob Dylan's website, that is what I did.  I would have thought that the last time I saw Bob Dylan in concert was in Vancouver in a later year, more like 1999.  My memory doesn't appear to serving me well.  So be it.

In the image above, Bob Dylan reminds me of an old Baptiste.  Baptiste is a character from the film, "Les Enfants du Paradis," a French film from 1945 that made a lasting impression on Bob Dylan.  Baptiste works as a mime, but in this clip with a Beatles song superimposed we see him both with his mime makeup, holding a rose, and without his mime makeup:

While looking for more images of Baptiste, I found this image,

which reminded me of the scene in "Masked and Anonymous" when a little girl sings "Blowing in the Wind."

If I know nothing else, I know that at least one thing is true -- that the sacred is in the ordinary.
(quote from the film "Masked and Anonymous")

Now and then when I get an idea for a picture, I think, how ordinary. Why paint that old rock? Why not go for a walk instead.  But then I realize that to someone else it might not seem so ordinary.
(Georgia O'Keeffe)


Here's Georgia looking through a cheese hole, and reminding me of Bob Dylan:

There is no end to the richness of the associations I have with the work of Bob Dylan.  That's just the way it is.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

All the questions and answers

In the last analysis, it is our conception of death which decides our answers to all the questions that life puts to us.

-- quote from Dag Hammarskjöld (1905-1961)

All I know from my limited experience is that many of the questions that life's diverse teachers have put to me are kōans, beginning with these questions from one of my earliest teachers:

Some answers in the wind, from the album, "The Wind," 2003, Warren Zevon (January 27, 1947 - September 7, 2003):

Now and then when I get an idea for a picture, I think, how ordinary. Why paint that old rock?  Why not go for a walk instead? (am's italics). But then I realize that to someone else it may not seem so ordinary.

When I think of death, I only regret that I will not be able to see this beautiful country anymore ... unless the Indians are right and my spirit will walk here after I'm gone.

-- quotes from Georgia O'Keeffe (November 15, 1887 - March 6, 1986)

Q:  Is this worth posting on my blog? Why write this down? Why not go for a walk instead?
A:  Something moves me to spend this time working on this blog post. What can it be?

("Person with Questions,"watercolor, gouache, and pastel on paper, early 1984, by am)