Looking, still looking…

November 25, 2008

This morning another update from Poetry Chaikhana came in, and reminded me about the unity, which I never experienced. I just had a glimpse of what it should be like, and was turned away.

Niyazi Misri – Now No Trace Remains

Ivan M. Granger November 24th, 2008

Now No Trace Remains
by Niyazi Misri

English version by Jennifer Ferraro & Latif Bolat

I thought that in this whole world
      no beloved for me remained.

Then I left myself.
      Now no stranger in the world remains.

I used to see in every object a thorn
      but never a rose–

the universe became a rose garden.
      Not a single thorn remains.

Day and night my heart
      was moaning “Ahhh!”

I don’t know how it happened–
      now no “Ahhh” remains.

Duality went, Unity came.
      I met with the Friend in private;

The multitude left, the One came.
      Only the One remains.

Religion, piety, custom, reputation–
      these used to matter greatly to me.

O Niyazi — what has happened to you?
      No trace of religion now remains.

Artists are people, who are walking along the thin line between enlightenment and ordinarity. And the torment of being an artist is in wanting to step to the side of the light, still not doing it, because I think once you are there, in the light, you don’t want to create. You stop being an artist.  You become content with yourself and with everything.

So, then. I still want to be tormented, don’t I? I want to be an artist, to create?

– Then be it, while you can! Time is running out, and you are still nowhere.

I am struggling. Between commitment to success and the fear of it. Fear of success, or the proccess of getting there – which one is it?

And why do I think that I am a little person?

-Because that is precisely what I think – I am a little, invisible, unrecognisable person, one of the billions on Earth. I think, that I have no right to be on the top, to claim the fame, money, attention, adoration, because there many of us, and I am only another one of the many. It’s statistics. The odds are against me. Why should I be more successful than the majority? What makes me different, how can I hope to be better than the others?

– Not better! But the point is, if I don’t believe in my uniqueness, than I don’t become unique, don’t achieve, don’t try, don’t realise my better self! So, I must believe in myself, my uniqueness, my betterness?.. Or what?

Fight between arrogance and humbleness. Modesty and pride. Isn’t there anything more wholesome than any of these qualities? Something which doesn’t contain the constant tag-of-war in it’s tisue.

You know the way in American movies the hero has to get the punch in the nose first, before he gets motivated to get to the happy ending? And the way he can’t get what he wants, because he wants it for the wrong reasons? The way he gets to the point of giving up all hope, and starts acting without expectations, desperately, and with the right reasons and the things turn out the way he wanted it on the first place, but he wanted it then for the wrong reason and couldn’t have it because of that?.. Yeah…

Today I enjoyed another one of those sickening American movies – I LOVE Happy End!

Singing?.. Hmm..

November 20, 2008

I go downstairs to the cellar to touch a human being. There, amongst the mouldings and things, is Tim.

– Cuddle, – say I.

We cuddle.

– Don’t be upset. – he says, – It turns out to be a rather good day after all.

– I am not upset any more. Not after I wrote about it.

– Have you written it all out of your system?

– Yes. I actually would like something else bad happen to me, so that I can write about it with all the angst and anger.

– Maybe I should turn into a wife-beater, then.

– Maybe I’ll start singing then. Like Tina Turner.

-Singing?.. Hmm… I better think again.

Morning. Girls are on the bus to shool. In my hand there is a LARGE LETTER to take to the post office. In the letter there is my little watercolour, which I sold on ebay for £0.99 plus £3.50 postage and packing. The idea is to get some money from economising on postage and packing.

I am walking into the post office and the window with a woman who, I thought, overcharged me the day before on the identical letter, is free. I go over. Show her the address.

– PLAIN First Class, please.

– Put it on the scale.

I put it obediently on the scale.

– Pass it through.

I pass it through. She takes a rectangle with rulers and measures it.

– £1.45

I didn’t expect it to be that much. But I hate telling her that. I ask:

– Is it recorded?

– No, for recorded it is 72p extra. Do you want recorded?

– No, just First Class, please.

She processes the sale,

– Do you want a receite?

– Yes, please.

Gives me a receite. I walk out and feel miserable, put down, cheated.

Yesterday night at the computer I went forth and back through the Royal Mail postage estimator, entering various options for postage, thoroughly measuring my STANDARD cardboard envelope, to see, how much it should cost, and whether I was overcharged earlier on that day for the similar envelope I posted. I was. But things still didn’t quite figure out in my head, EXACTLY how much I was overcharged, and on what basis. She couldn’t do it just to please herself, could she? There must have been a REASON. Some justification for the injustice that woman dished me out! Because the envelope measured straight up to the limit of what could be called a large letter. The weight was just under the 0.1 kg. And with all that, according to the estimator, it should have been £0.52. Even if it was a PACKET, with this weight and First Class, it should have been £1.14, not £1.45 I was charged.

But I pay and thank her for the service.

– Thank you. Good buy.

And walk out and feel like shit made flat. Why did she do it to me?

 

Come home. Safe. Why am I so stupid?

– You are going to swallow it again, aren’t you. Just swallow it, like everything else. Why can’t you ever stand up for yourself?!

Three steps into the house and the tears well up in my eyes.

– Why do you have to be so soft and stupid!?

Open the Royal Mail website, go to the estimator. Enter “Large letter”, weight 0.1 kg, submit – total £0.52

Go back, enter parcel, weight 0.1 kg, submit – total £1.14

– You are just going to swallow it again, aren’t you?

Go back to the estimator, print all the options on the sheet of paper, and decide to be a fighter. Take the paper and go to the post office, ready to stand up for myself.

 

Come in. She is there, free to serve. Looking displeased to see me.

– Hello again.

– Hello

I’ve just posted a parcel which I thought to be a large letter, but you charged me as for the parcel.

– It wasn’t. It was too big, I measured it. I’ll show you. – She fishes the letter out of the sack, puts it against the rectagle and shows it to me. – Look, it is too big.

– By how much? 

– Look, it is sticking out! They’ll charge the double at the other end!

It is a recycled cardboard envelope, with the edges not as sharp and rigid as they used to be in it’s prime time. I can see, that it is sticking out of the rectangle by about 1mm on each side. That’s that then.

-Ok. Thank you. Good buy. – I say with a wrong tremor starting in my voice, and rush out of the post office, and out of the site of the post office workers looking in my wake.

 

Come home.

– Stop this crap! Try to concentrate on your tasks! What is next? I have to take these pictures upstairs… Need a hummer and nails, put the paintings on the walls.

Take the hummer and nails, take the pictures. Go upstairs, put one of them on the nail which is already there. hummer a nail into the wall, hang another painting.

– I knew it was all my fault, just as it always is. She just did what she had to do to keep herself out of trouble. And of course, she is right. Next time look out for small print details and remember the prices and everything better.

– Yeah, but I even had the estimates printed out. How could I be even more thorough than that?! Wait… But wasn’t the price for the parcel also less than what she charged me? Something like £1.18 or 1.12?.. Just a second…

Rush downstairs to check the recite, the paper with estimates printed out. Yes! The estimate for the parcel – 0,1kg, First Class – is £1.14. She charged me £1.45… I mentally collapse in a heap while tears stream freely down my face. What an idiot! Why couldn’t I stay and look at it there and then, and argue my case? Where was my brain and why didn’t I remember, that the price should have been different??? Why, oh, why am I such a retard?!

Go there again? Come on! It is soooo ridiculous already! Pathetic! Pa-the-tic!!! O-o-o-hhhhh! What can I do with myself?

– There is nothing for it, but sit and write it all down. Let everyone see how stupid, pathetic, ridiculous, useless, week, soft and self-pitying you are.

Open my blog. Start writing. I am down my third paragraph. Someone comes in. It is Peter.

– Hi, Peter!

– Oh, hi, Marina.. I am afraid, I have a bit of bad news…

– What?..

– Is your car parked on the Cinque Ports? Silver Peugeot? You’ve got a parking ticket… Sorry!

– Ye-ah. Only it’s not silver. Dark blue.

-Oh, really? Maybe I didn’t remember the colour… I am pretty sure it is your car. Two booster sits on the back?

– Yeah..

– Not sure about the colour. There was an apple core on the front seat.

– Oh, it’s mine!

– Two booster seats on the back?.. Sorry, there is a ticket…

– Oh, if it’s already there, might as well stay where it is. They can’t ticket me twice, can they?

– Uhm, – he shrugs a sholder. Not here maybe. In London once I was parked…

–  Oh, it is Thursday today, isn’ it?

– Is that why you got the ticket?

– It’s the market day! I shouldn’t be down there!  Maybe I better move. Thank you, Peter, for telling me!

– I just thought I should tell you. Sorry! Buy!

 

Go down to the car.

– I should have moved it this morning! I even thought of it, but was too careless to do anything! Here is a silver car… Does it have a ticket? No. So, that wasn’t it. Where is mine?.. Ah, there… Does it… have… a… Yes! The ticket! Bastards! Another -£30, while this morning I was crying a river over being overcharged some pennies for the postage. Well, one would, wouldn’t one? If £0.99 and extra £1.35 are the only incoming money for the day’s work!”

Drive into the garage, which is given to me for temporary use by kind Rosemary. It is too small. Or the car is too big. I drive in, almost as far as I can, but obviously not far enough. Get out of the car, lock. Is it sticking out a bit too much? Try to close the door. It bumps into the nose of the car sticking 3 cm beyound the invisible line. “Shit!”

Unlock. Get in. Start. Look back. Move another 5 cm back, risking hitting the wall. Get out. Lock. Try to close the door. Made it. But just.

Walking up the hill. The day is mild. My body seems to be contented. My mind for some reason isn’t. This morning I opened the inbox, and in the http://www.poetry-chaikhana.com newsletter there was this poem:

 

Thankful for this day

Posted: 19 Nov 2008 10:05 AM CST

Be thankful for this day
of possibility.
Who know what magic will unfold?

I thought not much of the poetic qualities of it, although the idea is, of course, the right one. Now, walking up the hill, with my body being wiser than my mind, I remebered it, and attempted to get into the spirit.

– Thank you! (Whoever it might be addressed to) Thank you for the day! I am alive, life is beautiful. What am I complaining about? It was my fault for getting this bloody ticket!

– “Why didn’t I move the car this morning? Actually, yesterday I was on the safe spot, near the house! BUT! I moved it down here BECAUSE our diamond Rose was looking very displeased about it sticking right there, in front of her shop! And driven by my mousiness and fear of dispeasing anyone, I moved it out of her sight, thinking, she was looking like ready to mix me with her dog’s pooh. I should tell her, that I just paid another fine for getting out of her stretch of the High street. Rose should be really pleased to know, that we pay up occasioally! How unjust this is, that she pays for the garage on a monthly basis, while we just leave our two cars in front of her shop all the time for free! 

– Well, when you think of it, it is unfair. Paying a dosen or so fines a year is nothing in comparison with what her life is like. AND she is lonely. She hasn’t got a lovely husband and two bestest kids in town (doesn’t matter, if they are also THE ONLY kids in town, they are geniuses in any case). So, really. Maybe I won’t go into her shop and won’t tell her “Rose, rejoice! I just paid another fine, for I tried to reduce your sorrows over my car by moving it down the Sinque Port!” Maybe I better be kind to her. Like I always am, taking everyone’s elbowing with “thank you very much”…

 

Come home. Into the kitchen. Morning has started with the ballance of -£31.45. What’s next?

Well, at least I’ve already sorted two tasks on my calendar for today – took the pictures out of the front gallery and posted that damn watercolour. It’s actually, very good – this Google calendar! http://www.google.com/calendar. Yesterday I got it all – my future art events, and my tasks for the day – jotted down in it. Very convinient, if one keeps switching between tabletop and laptop.

Right, where was I? I was actually, turning all the bad things which happened to me into something good – my art. Or being more specific, I was writing about all the shit which happened to me in the post office, on my blog, when another shit happened – the parking ticket. Great! The story is thickenning up. The hero must get to the very bottom of the abyss, before springing back and fighting his way back to the top of the world! I keep wondering, how far are we from the bottom. Definetely, life isn’t as bad as it can be… Which is bad news.

 

Sit down, open the wordpress. Phone rings.

– Hello?

– Hi. Is this Marina?

– Yes.

– My name is Georgina. I came a few days ago and talked to you about my daughter. Having sketches of her done.

– Oh, yes! I remember!

– I’d like to do it. Could it be Monday?

– Let me have a look… Yes, Monday is good.

– How long does it take usually?

– It is about one and a half hours.

– I’ll have to sleep her at about 11. If I come nine half, that would be all right?

– Yes, that’s fine. Or if you’d like, what about sketching her asleep? Might be an idea?

– Yes… Or maybe after 11.30… Let me think about the time, and I’ll phone you back.

– OK.

– Take care. Buy

– Ok. Buy!

Great! A bit of money possibility. Only did I talk right? Did I say enough “thank you”s and at the right points? Did I get a positive, reassuring enough message across? Was I warm enough? How am I to know?..

But back to my blog. Where was I?. Phone rings.

 

– Hello, Roche Gallery.

– Hello. My name is Rosemary Wood. – says a very authoritative voice. Kind of a head teacher, who is about to send you to the galleys for misspelling “because”. – I think you just talked to my daughter Georgina.

– Yes…

– She would like a sketch of her daughter to be done…

Right. Say “good-bay” to that money possibility, my dear. You didn’t live long with the delusion.

– She also liked a painting of the apples in you gallery. Did she mention anything like that? The price was £395 or something close to that.

– Yes, she did like a painting of the apples. – Is it?.. Could it be?..

– I’d like to buy it for her as a present. As a surprise present. But when she is at your gallery on Monday, try to figure out, if she still likes it, or if she prefers any other painting. Listen to her.

– OK. Only I’d like to make sure it is the right painting… There are two paintings of apples, one is smaller and one is bigger. The bigger apples is the one she  talked about when she was here.

– What is the price?

– £695

– Oh, no. I wouldn’t want to go as high as that. I am pretty sure the £395 was the figure.

– OK. Than this is the smaller one.

– Keep it for me, will you? How shall I pay? I can post a check to you, or I can come in and pick it up. I have a house in Rye, but I won’t be there before December.

– Whichever you prefer. Check in the post will be fine.

– Also, I want to make sure she likes the painting. Ask her carefully on Monday, which painting she likes.

– I’ll try to find out.

– Keep your ears open. If she changes her mind… What about, I’ll post you a deposit of, let’s say £100. You phone me and tell me what she likes, and I’ll pay you the rest?

– Yes, that’s fine.

– Great. I’ll post that check today. Thank you very much!

– Thank you! Buy.

That was an unexpected turn of fortune! Was it because I thanked whoever it was in charge for whatever was being given today just shortly before? Or am I being a soapy-floppy-new-agey dumbo here? Whatever. Thank you, anyway!

Well! the story is getting curiousier and curiousier! Let’s get on with this blog-post of mine!

These were very shaky few months for me – rushing here and there, pressing all sorts of buttons with all sorts of unexpected and half-expected consequences.

What I’ve learned:

1. Have to try and think at least one and a half steps ahead, although it is so hard for my nature.

2. Don’t go against your nature, go with it, and REALLY GO with it. ( In conjunction with the point number one, does it mean, that I don’t have to think ahead? Maybe. Maybe really what I need to do is to succumb to all my impulses and rush about making mistakes at twice the speed? Interesting idea…)

3. My nature is extremely independent. I never fitted into any collective activity, unless short term and under my initiative. Hence, the exhibitions I am to organise, will have to be a one off projects without further obligations. The main purpose of the exhibitions I am going to organise in the future is to self-express my own views on art at that particular moment in my life.

4. Involving lots of people in the affairs of my gallery is NOT a good idea, due to my inexperience of working in a team, and with people in general. However, I am good at establishing a stable decent one-on-one relationships. Which means, I can find a person, whom I will be comfortable with, who could do many things in the gallery instead of me. A PA!

5. The way to go with the gallery at the moment I see like this: Promote it like a home-gallery. Life of the gallery and my own life – family and all, are one. The art and the gallery are my tools of exploring life. The metaphor of life. The activity through which I live life. I am not an expert in history of art, I am not a connoisseur of art. What I know most is, the struggle of an artist to self-express. And that’s what I am talking about through the art I make as well as exhibit in my gallery. And of course, it is very limited and personal point of view – my point of view from where-ever I stand at that particular moment of my life. And life is change. Life is movement. What I want to say today is going to be left behind, forgotten, in a year’s time. The fellow-travellers of today are going to take other routs tomorrow. And that is to be accepted as inevitable flow of the river, called life.

Look at the gallery as at another canvas. Another medium for self-expression. The works of other artists, the crafts, the natural objects, books, poetry, music – anything and everything – are just paints on my pallet. Use it to express what you want to say about life today.

That brings in a completely new concept of an art gallery. It is a boutique of a person/artist, like a brand, like a life-style. I am a brand, I am a life-style. At the moment it is very row, looking immature and a mess. Starting from now, I will have to work on defining myself as a brand, as a life-style.

Potential vs achievement

November 18, 2008

We all are immense potentials, and only a few of us are actual achievements. I don’t want to be a potential any more. I am to be an achievement.