Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Life is a Cabaret!

Last week, my family and friends suffered a great tragedy.  A 14 year old relative of my sister died in the woods after being shot with a BB gun in the head by his best friend.  At first we were shocked, then we were steeped in sorrow, and now, we celebrate the life that was lived and mourn the life that could have been.  Many people cried aloud, some let the tears slowly trickle down their faces and mourned in silence.  I have yet to do either.  Many may think that I am heartless, others say I feel nothing, and I quietly sit in the corner observing the passers-by and their reactions.

The truth is that I don't know what I am supposed to feel.  I am angry at the parents who bought a gun for their child yet failed to teach him the responsibility and danger that comes with owning any type of gun.  I am shocked that such a freak accident could have occurred while celebrating at a birthday party.  I am bewildered that the Maker would take such an innocent life that had not yet lived.  I am frightened that the same could happen to me at any moment.  So many emotions have flowed through this weak body during the period of a week that I can hardly begin to enumerate all of them.

I am reminded of my own mortality at times like these which try men's souls.  However, I find solace in the fact that death came rather quickly for our little one.  He lived life like tomorrow was not given.  He loved hard, he played hard, he laughed hard, and with every breath he took he learned hard and lived hard.  Little ones understand a language that we, as adults, have long forgotten: "Life is a cabaret."  Sure, we all know the lyrics of the Broadway show-stopper, but how often do we really live it.  I know that I spend more time than I care to nit-picking over the little things in life and less time than I need sucking the marrow out of life.

We need to learn that living is an active word while being is a passive word.  I tend to sit alone in my room without music, without nourishment, without joy, without love, without laughter.  But that will very shortly come to an end.  Maybe I will adopt the Epicurean philosophy of "Eat, Drink, and Be Merry."  Maybe I will make more of an effort to celebrate the little things in life.  Maybe I will try harder to show the ones I love how much they mean to me.  But I will definitely remember that Life is a Cabaret and that you have to show up in order to enjoy the experience.

"Cabaret" by Liza Minnelli

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Dancing Your Troubles Away

I used to dance.  I used to dance very well.  Then I became too sick to dance.  I think that is the part of life that I miss most out of everything that has changed since I became sick 9 years ago.  If I had a hard week at school, then I would simply dance the night away with a dear friend or two at a local club in New Orleans.  If I was filled with too many emotions to experience aloud, then I would dance on the outside and cry or scream on the inside.  I would plan my classes around dancing, join dance clubs, teach dance, compete in dance, practice new dance moves, and even had a regular dance partner or 3 over my years in New Orleans.  There was always one more move to learn, one more aerial to land, or one more step to master.  This was not only my exercise, it was my passion and my therapy rolled up into one little black polka dot dress, saddle Swing dance shoes, pearls, and Big Band music.

I never found a scene that would capture the vast array of emotions I felt while dancing until I watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I.  In the midst of despair, confusion, and anger, Harry lends a hand to Hermione and begins to dance.  Dancing is raw, sensual, primordial, and anyone can do it.  You don't have to be graceful, you just have to keep moving.  Sometimes in life, all we need to do is keep moving.  Otherwise, we will fall into the trappings of the world and our own consciousness.  So for now, until I can get back on my feet figuratively, then I will get on my feet literally.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I - Harry and Hermione Dancing Scene

Monday, July 4, 2011

A Thing of Beauty

Out of all the hats I wear, "The Artist" is one that I am constantly trying to cultivate.  In my quest to capture this title, I have been driven to create inspiration journals, a pictionary journal of myself, Artist Trading Cards, and even join a community of women artists called Milliande after its founder.  I cross-stitch, paint, sketch, create mixed media, create folkart furniture, and am constantly snapping pictures with my camera, possibly the best purchase I have ever bought for myself.

Even though I have more than enough time to spare, I find myself lacking in inspiration.  How does one create without inspiration?  I have read books, searched through Bing and Google Images, and listened to music all in a vain attempt to ignite that creative spark.  I can only assume that this is an "artist's block" since I experience that same nauseating malaise I felt in college the week before a research paper or essay was due.  This artistic constipation is almost as bad as the real thing since I am constantly putting in effort, yet nothing ever comes out.  My inspiration journal has all but stopped.  My pictionary is stuck on the letter "N".  I am only producing about 2 ATC's per month, and I have completely stopped receiving Random Acts of Art Kindness.

So, what does one do in order to stop being "stuck"?  This is where I turn to the lovely group of ladies at Milliande Art Communtiy for Women (http://milliande.ning.com).  Here I find advice ranging from topics to art supplies and encouragement from ladies who feel the same way I do about art.  These women create art for the sake of art...simply to beautify the world around them and find the window to their soul through the pages of a sketchbook.  I have been inspired in more ways than one by these ladies.  Right now, I am working on a Symbolic Matchbox Shrine based upon my favorite symbol at the moment, the Hamsa, and I am trying to capture the essence of Mother Earth for a series of Artist Trading Cards due by the end of the month.  So, with these extremely feminine concepts, I have found myself perusing the pages of the Internet for inspiration that never seems to come.  That is, until today.

The lovely founder of Milliande posted a slideshow from YouTube of my favorite artist, John William Waterhouse.  Waterhouse appeals to my senses and sensibilities in many ways.  He lovingly honored women of history, mythology, and literature in every stroke of his paintbrush.  He captured all four embodiments of woman: the virgin, the witch, the martyr, and the saint.  (I always like to add the mother, the child, the teacher, and the whore.)  And although Waterhouse does not necessarily portray Mother Earth, I would prefer to think that she exists in each of his paintings.

Here I have embedded a little bit of lagniappe for your inspiration as well as mine.  Enjoy!