Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Meditations: Wildness, Truth, & Light

"Artistic growth is, more than it is anything else, a refining of the sense of truthfulness. 
The stupid believe that to be truthful is easy; only the artist, the great artist, knows how difficult it is." -Willa Cather 

A refining of the sense of truthfulness: this is an interesting way to talk about artistic growth. It's not just a consistent putting a paintbrush to paper, or writing creatively regularly, or presenting an image of a creative life: it's living one. Artistic growth is possible for any life, really: any life that wants to truly and actually become bigger, bolder, evolved, expanded, conscious, open, awake, aware, alive.
When we set off for a life that is all of these things, 'truth' stops becoming a concept we can present factually or bolster against 'other ideas.' Truth becomes a space you live in, something you embody, not just copy or think; a discovery you have made about what is required for the fullness of life that we all naturally crave. Truth is difficult to live.

When I was a child, I remember my babysitter once bringing over a book called 'The Secret Language of Birthdays' that fascinated me. It was a sort of astrological, intuitive, numerology-based guide to what the day of your birth reveals about you; nothing I put too much weight in but something I found symbolically interesting nonetheless. I was born on September 30- 'The Day of Glaring Truth,' and I remember reading in the book: those born on this day are adept at ferreting out the truth and bringing it to light.
And I remember thinking even at the young age of twelve or thirteen, that the idea- the quest, the desire, the thirst- for truth was something I was always in tune to and hungry for. It was different than just wanting answers or to know: 'knowing' stood even then to me as apart from things like trusting, feeling, being in tune with the deeper realities that intelligence alone can't touch. 

I think many times people perceive truth as belonging to one category or the other: either literal, thought-based, and intellectually provable or comprehensible; or spiritual, faith-based, and non-comprehensible. I think the greatest seekers and seers of truth have eliminated this duality, and realize that the truth is a lot bigger than truth.

Truth is a little bit, maybe counter-intuitively, beyond knowing. Knowing is static; it doesn't move, it can't evolve or adapt.  Truth is different. It is more of a way. It has to do with seeing a little bit beyond, understanding a little bit beyond understanding.
An interesting thing I've learned about truth is that it's scary too. It's difficult and it's challenging. It requires a lot from us. "It is stupid to believe that to be truthful is easy"- truth is often rejected and misunderstood; 'lies,' things that tend to protect the ego and keep us comfortable, are often easy. They keep us safe- but provide us no growth.

To call people- including ourselves- to out highest potential, we need to speak truth to them. Another thing truth does is bring light- which, if we are not ready for truth to be faced or revealed, isn't always welcome. 

Darkness, though miserable, is preferable because it conceals and hides. But it also breeds shame, under-confidence, and lies. To walk in truth everyday is a literal and moral exercise of bravery: are we living in the best way we can, to our fullest? Or do we just want to appear to be doing that, so we can appear to happy?
Truth feels like becoming something new.

It takes passion to face, discipline to follow, obedience to live out; intellect and emotional awareness to understand; humility and selflessness to implement. Truth sets us free. When we look at a person who lives this life fully, lightly, uncompromisingly, genuinely, honestly, beautifully, true to their voice- we should see light

And if we look into the heart of that person, we should see a fundamental value system that is the thing that generates such shining- just as if we looked into the heart of a person who lives aggressively, selfishly, angrily, as though life were more slavery than beauty- we would see a value system (or lack thereof) that produces such darkness.   
Only darkness leads no where. We can't grow artistically if we don't have a source of light. There must be some awareness of an inner fire that we're not sourcing, just allowing, leaving space for, for us to understand who we are and see ourselves in truth. This is what the artist inevitably does, because to create at all is a matter of refining a sense of truthfulness and requires an awareness of this process. 

It calls us to look at the light, to be free.

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