Updated: Jan 15
Sunshine, man does it feel good! Meteorological spring began yesterday and boy did it start feeling like it in the Twin Cities. It was great to see so many people outside enjoying the weather. Spring gives us an opportunity to awaken the energy that sits dormant during the winter season and prepare for growth. We start to think about pruning dead, diseased or unsafe branches from our trees we can do the same with the same mentally, physically, & emotional stuff in our lives too. Preparing for sunshine and growth this spring I wanted to share the below letter written by an amazing artist (and friend),Rudolf Boukal.
During this spring, grow & shine.
"SHINE" - A Letter to a fellow artist and Friend.
It's Long, as always - you shouldn't have been surprised.
I received an upsetting note from a friend this morning. They had sent me a video of some of
their work the day before, and now they regretted having shared it. Perhaps they felt
embarrassed or perhaps felt that it wasn't as good as they had thought prior to clicking "send." I can only assume, and will find out more later. To me their work was delightful, fun, and happy. What follows below is my response. I liked what I wrote, so I thought to share it with others. Some of you may be way ahead of me, so the reading might be tedious, some of you might relate to what I am saying, and some of you might be offended at what is implied. I have nothing to prove, but simply to share a short glimpse of what I have come to understand at this point in my life. Tomorrow, or the next day, I may find myself editing once again, as is often the case. Yesterday's understanding is revised by today's experience. Wisdom comes over time and in drips - never at once, and never by the gallon. Spending almost of all of my time now in music, formerly in woodworking, I have never considered myself as accomplished, or better, or special, but more so as just simply busy - busy
as anyone else hungry to learn more. I have never considered "ART" as a specific activity or
product, but have always considered being an artist as a way of life, a way of thinking - the
"how" and "why" of what I do. Whether you are a mom, or a dad, a plumber or a lawyer, a
musician or a teacher, a clerk or seamstress, a salesman or a doctor, a baker or a fisherman, etc., etc. - the action of what we do is immaterial - it is the underlying motive and motion that matters - the purpose which drives and gives meaning to what we do for ourselves or for others. Not dismissing education or experience, when I meet a person for the first time, I rarely consider the "title" - nor give importance to "place" in life. I should have been born in Missouri - the "Show Me" state. Don't tell me your title, or give a list of your achievements, let me see and experience who you are. As I taught my children: character comes before career. If I can't engage your character, we will probably not be engaging - life is too short for that. The day after we are dead, what we did will be forgotten, what we achieved will be surpassed, and what we possessed with fall into other hands. The day after we are dead, the effects how we loved life, and how we loved others, this and its impact may well survive us.
What follows then, is the letter to my friend. (I have removed the recipient's name to maintain privacy.) - Rudi
The feeling that you are describing in your note, that certain regret, probably shame in one form or another, I know it well. I can so-o-o-o relate to this "morning-after regret" of sharing a part of myself - of being vulnerable and open.
Several years ago, my friend John invited me to go see a movie (you may know it - "Shine"). The story is of a (emotionally) wounded musician who in the end comes into the light, where he can be seen - where he can shine. John is notorious for introducing me to movies that make me cry - I sobbed during this one repeatedly - in public, mind you. Whenever he suggests a movie now, I always ask him if it's going to cause a "meltdown" and then we laugh. John knows me too well. And after the first laugh, there is silence, and then we laugh some more because we both know one another so well.
I watched your video late last night - I had been in Missoula all day taking a neighbor to their appointments. I got back tired - so I planned to respond to you today. Glad I waited, otherwise you may never have sent this "tidbit of wealth." I sometimes think an underlying purpose to our friendship is to propel one another into the life that we are overlooking - and yes, you have an impact on me as well. My dear narcissist, you are not the only one needing growth and healing. Remember, I am older and was already standing in the "wake-up-to-life" line for quite some time.
I also struggle with worries of being genuine, of being authentic, of making a difference - of showing up - of being effective. Yet ... A thousand thoughts echo in my mind that I am "insufficient" - that I should "be still" and "sit down." A thousand more that I am "less than" and another thousand thoughts that I am "irrelevant." But in this seemingly endless cacophony of my screaming inner demon, through the heaviness and darkness that it creates, there enters a faint little beam of light - much like a sun's ray exploding through the smallest crack in the roof of a darkened worn old building. For many years I have been removing one plank at a time, one plank after another - to let in more light. One day, not so long ago, I began to realize that I do not need to let the light in - I need to remove the building - the structure that contains and confines me. Letting the "light in" I thought, this is not enough - I must make it so that "I am in the light" instead.
The process continued. As I stood in that new place, I thought: I do not understand "it" - I vaguely know "it" - but I know that "it" is. I decided to repeat the choice of letting it wash through me - it is all around - this goodness. It is a goodness that envelops me (and everyone), elevates me, frees me ... and then, a new dialogue began, the words that "I am sufficient" began to emerge. In the moment of realizing that I am sufficient, I slowly became aware that I am also the wellspring of that light. The shell of that building was the constraint created by my own misguided self perception - a disillusioned arrangement of a duality that actually did not exist. The new vision: The Divine is in me - and I am in the Divine - it is a singularity. The wellspring wasn't located in me, nor was it as a thought in the mind, nor a place in my consciousness. The wellspring is the heart - the seat of "self" - and has always been. It is what/ who I am. As such, I am fundamentally intertwined and connected to what is Divine - I am a unique and singular expression of "God's" pleasure and love - one among billions.
Your comment ("Woke up with instant regret when I remembered I actually sent that video") stirred up this reflection. You could have woken with the thought - "Gee, that was so much fun sharing that video; I can just imagine others smiling." You could have woken with the thought - "I love to express myself - I am so glad that I shared that with my friend(s)." You could have woken with the thought - "I so enjoy that video! I see myself having fun, enjoying being me, enjoying being alive." You could have woken with the thought - "There I am. I see myself. I am beautiful, full of energy. I am here, I am now, I am joy." But, you didn't - nor have I so often in my life.
I was so glad that Judi C. shared with me the video of my performance - a welcome surprise. Not because I wanted to hear how great it was, or how flawlessly it might all have went - but rather, because on some level, I knew that when I would see it, I would see that I was finally shining - it would be affirming. It would demonstrate to myself, that I am slowly finding the lifestyle and perspective that allows a way of choosing a compassionate "attendance of my life." I wanted to see my posture, I wanted to see me swaying to the rhythm, I wanted to see my "prima donna" hand movements. I wasn't interested in the "execution" but rather in the "manner" - not the goal but the state of being. I wanted to observe myself "relaxed in living." And indeed, that is what I saw - I saw myself participating in my relevance, and this expression all to itself was sufficient.
Somewhere along the way, repeatedly and deeply, the message was given to us that we were "a bother", "insufficient", "unnecessary", "irrelevant", and "common." Those are the "planks" of the building, that eventually enclosed us - planks given to us by the wounded people in our lives - by a wounded society itself. We cannot judge them - they cannot see - they give what they have and what they know - nothing more is possible. Their unattended wound becomes the voice of their narcissism - as it keeps "in check" anything or anyone that threatens their fortress of fear, of anger, of hubris, and of self doubt/repugnance. These thoughts and and resulting feelings may have been reinforced by parents, or family, or peers, or society - over and over again. Given without intent (as they are most likely unaware of their behavior and effects), and given for such sufficient duration, that the messages succeeded in keeping our light diminished, concealed - though never fully extinguished.
But with time, their influence and constancy diminished - and the steady flow and pressure that holds us in the dark began to lessen. The planks began to loosen, and then eventually, fall off, one at a time - at which point, we began to notice that first single beam of light penetrating - such subtle elegant brilliance. "Shine my friend, Shine!" "Shine Rudolf, Shine!" that light is whispering so emphatically. Shine and, in so doing, be a catalyst for light to enter into others' mindfulness - penetrating the planks that obstruct those we know, and those we love. We cannot give, what we do not possess. We can only deliberately give the possessed good that we can recognize. Shine! Shine on your lover, shine on your friends, shine on your family, shine on your children. These are not individual acts, but proceed from a practiced choice established as an attitude or state of mind - seen and held by awareness in consciousness.
What sustains it? A steadfast desire and commitment to evolving into one's truest self - our very, very, simple sufficient unique self. I think that you may have felt regret that you showed us your art, because you are not convincingly aware of how we would so enjoy what you offer. How unfortunate that many of us have been trained to regret and feel shame for our individuality, our creativity, and our wonderfully silly genuine expression - happiness, our visible joy of simply being. I could write more (e.g. about expectation and perfection, and that whole struggle, and then more and more and more ....), but I have to get back to practicing. In closing, one consideration stands out : not that we achieve, nor that we can perform this or that, rather that the success of life is that we simply learn and choose to live - to ensure that how we live our life will express our unique and wonderful "be-ing" (existence). Living in the "here" and "now", it is there alone that we can unfold the reality that "I am". Life is the slow and barely noticeable unfolding of a rose's petals .......... SHINE!!
I encourage you to SHINE to be intentional about creating SPACE in your life for what you LOVE.
"The day after we are dead, what we did will be forgotten, what we achieved will be surpassed, and what we possessed with fall into other hands. The day after we are dead, the effects how we loved life, and how we loved others, this and its impact may well survive us."
If you don't know what you love then take time to figure it out. Don't continue to spin your wheels or procrastinate with personally busyness. Mindlessly running thorough life from one activity to the next, and allowing your calendar to be prioritized by someone else.
What do you want your impact to be? Be intentional and get after it.
This month I encourage you to be intentional about creating more space in your life for love & space to enter. Maybe for you, creating more space in your life will allow you to tackling your mindless spending, that mountain of unread books by your nightstand, your kids towers of toys, or piles of papers. I challenge you to take some time during the next couple of weeks is to focus on that one focus item and “open up” some space in your life so you’ll have room for more good things to move into it! Keep me posted on your stories I would love to hear them.
If you need help with making space and decluttering Mindfully Minimized can help. Reach out today.