Seeking Nothing /2
March 29, 2009, 15:30
Filed under: Seeking nothing | Tags: , , , , , ,

One has to grow into that state where she seeks nothing for herself but takes whatever comes to pass as the thing most desired.

It’s not easy to seek nothing for myself except whatever comes to pass and yet strangely enough I have always had everything I genuinely needed, (which doesn’t mean everything I wanted,) and I know it isn’t because of anything I did. I’m convinced that all seeking is in vain. I think of seeking as a bad habit that is very hard to break.

Nowhere is this business of seeking more pernicious than in my life as an artist. If an artist creates for any other reason than the need to create they’re done for. I write because I can’t not write. Sometimes I wish I could not write because sometimes writing is very painful. And writing is damn hard work. (A friend who is a much better writer than me once told me that writing is about 10% talent and 90% hard work. I think for me it’s more like 5%!) For a long time I tried to not write. It almost worked until I saw that it was killing me. Now I write all the time. It’s like breathing. If I stop I die. But if I use my writing to seek personal gain in the world, if I think for one moment what the world will give me in return for my writing, I’m finished. Whenever I write to please anyone but myself I feel like a fraud. But it’s tricky. It’s not so red and blue. Like most things it’s fuchsia. It’s perfectly natural that I would want others to like what I write but if I write because I want others to like what I write all I write is crap. I think this is true about anything we do. It’s like what the Zen masters say about the art of living.artofliving Think about the bull’s-eye and you’ll never hit it; be the bull’s-eye and you can’t miss. Something like that. So when it comes to my writing, seeking nothing for myself except whatever comes to pass not only works, it’s absolutely essential.

I think that what really matters is that I’m doing what it is I really love to do. That is where everything else begins. What I love to do is write. I don’t know yet if others will love what I write but I won’t know until others see what I’ve written. [I know what you’re thinking. You’re reading this so it’s not true that no one sees what I write but this doesn’t really count because this is only hypothetical.] I think the reason that I’m not ready to show others what I love to do is because I am afraid that others won’t love what I do and I really want others to love what I do. I know that sounds pretty lame but I can’t pretend that what others think doesn’t matter to me, especially those whose opinions mean a lot to me like my family and friends and Christian Bobin. But you see, this is precisely where it gets pernicious. (I love that word! Carl Jung often said the most important question to ask is “From whence comes evil?” but I prefer asking ‘From whence comes perniciousness!?’) I know that when I’m ready I will show others what I’m writing and if they love it than perhaps I can begin meeting all those people I really want to meet. For now I know that those who love me love what I am doing even if they haven’t seen what I am doing because they love that I love what I am doing. That means a lot to me.

The money and fame that would come from others loving what I do isn’t so important to me. In fact, I think fame would be a terrible thing. My solitude means far too much to me to give it up for fame. When I fantasize about others loving what I do I think about how it would give me the freedom to keep doing what I do and how I would be able to meet others like me whose work I love. But if fame means meeting all kinds of people I’d rather not meet, I prefer not being famous. As it is, I don’t have enough time in the day to do all that I want to do. Imagine if I had to fit in being famous!!

One fantasy I have when I imagine others loving what it is I do is that maybe I would be able to afford a home of my own, nothing fancy, just a simple home in a quiet place, perhaps tucked into a birch forest with a stream nearby that I can hear when the windows are open,

Imagine it surrounded by birch trees

Imagine it surrounded by birch trees

where my new and old friends would come and visit. No one visits me where I am now because it embarrasses them to see that I live in such squalor. (I don’t mind the squalor too much. At least I have a cheap place to live so I can afford to do what it is I love to do.) I think of living in my new home and having dinner parties where everyone would sit around a great big wooden table where the conversation would be rich, intense, heartfelt and nourishing and that makes me smile.

Like a bear in the woods

Like a bear in the woods

And because I really believe that we need to be serious about taking better care of our planet, my home would leave no footprint at all––there would be solar panels on the roof, a windmill in the backyard, a thermal pump in the basement and of course there would be a compost toilet. All the food from those dinner parties needs to go somewhere!

I know I said that having money wasn’t so important but I would like to have enough so that I could afford tickets to see dance, theatre and music and be able travel to other cities to see the work of artists who aren’t able to come here. An artist needs the work of other artists to be inspired, to nourish the soul and not feel so alone. And because I think money can be used as creatively as words and paint, I like to imagine helping all the people I know who can’t do what they would really love to do because they can’t afford it.

I think more than anything if others loved what it is I love to do I would feel for the first time in my life that I belong.

When you think about it, most human beings never get the chance to do what they really love to do. In fact, being able to ask what it is we really want to do is a question that most of us haven’t been able to ask for very long. Until recently anyone saying that they were only going to do what they really love doing would have been considered crazy. For hundreds of generations daughters did what their mothers did and sons did what their fathers did. When I think about it this way it makes sense that it sometimes takes so long, as it did with me, to figure out what it is we really want to do. When I was growing up a lot of people told me what I should do but very few asked me what it was I would really love to do.

Having the chance to do what it is I really want to do is amazing. We act as if it is something we are entitled to but this is not at all true. I can only do what I love to do because of all those who went before me and the lifetimes others suffered doing what they didn’t want to do. It’s because of them that I have this chance and the responsibility to do what it is I love to do. In this way doing what I want to do isn’t just about me. It took thousands and thousands of years for us to see that when human beings do what they really love to do they become more human. (I like to think that our ancient ancestors did what they love doing because that was simply the way life was, the Garden of Eden thing,

She knows

She doesn't ask herself what she really loves to do; she just does it!

but then we got smart but not smart enough and started doing things that no one in their right mind would want to do. In this way doing what we want to do is like coming home only now we know that we know what we really love to do.) Being more human means being more full of love and wisdom and joy which is good for everyone don’t you think? I feel like I am just beginning to learn what it means to be truly human. I think it has to do with seeking nothing for myself except whatever comes to pass and doing what it is I really love to do.


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