Just Begin

How can I know what to do?


Sometimes people will ask me, “What were you thinking of when you did that painting?”  Often the question is an enquiry about what I had in mind that gave birth to that painting.  Occasionally something about the process stands out in my mind which I can then relate to the questioner, but more often than not I find I have to utter some banality since I don’t know how to communicate what I went through and what produced the painting.  Gerhard Richter has observed that painting is another form of thinking, something that you do in secret and then reveal in public.  That feels exactly right to me since the process of creating a painting is a form of thinking out-loud; just as with most thinking, the thoughts evolve as they are encountered and engaged with, and to try and tell someone how you reached the final painting is like…

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not knowing how to interact with life in a healthy way


I have been particularly struck by a recent television campaign in regard to meth which states: “Meth… not even once!”  This is one particular drug which is vicious in its addictive ability to actually physically re-wire the brain, even after only one use, and to create a self-reinforcing neural network geared towards satisfying its craving for dopamine.  The county in which I live in Georgia is Effingham county, know in the area as Meth-ingham county due to its proliferation of home meth-labs.  Every so often there will a loud BOOM! as yet another home-lab blows, followed by the house shaking and fire-engine sirens wailing down the road.

While meth and other drugs have the chemical ability to become addictive, for many people the real issue is not the substance itself but that person’s relationship to life which drives them to interact with the substance in a destructive way.  Do we…

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we repeatedly indulge in habits that makes us their first victim


While surfing television channels I came upon a program entitled “Bridezillas”.  The focus of the show is about how the stress of preparing for a wedding can cause some brides to come unhinged.  There was the bride who had originally ordered white flowers, changed her mind to red roses without notifying the florist, and went into such a rage when the florist brought white flowers that she actually shredded the bouquets and demanded red roses that she would not pay for.  Other brides are shown stomping on cell-phones, smashing wedding cakes, belittling bridesmaids and family members.  What is common to all of the Bridezillas is that they readily reach for anger when their desires are thwarted, an anger that almost immediately escalates into an uncontrolled rage whose only purpose is to destroy.

There is a school of thought in psyco-therapy that posits that expressing anger and rage is helpful and…

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Project Runway

We work so hard at not being present


I must admit to a guilty pleasure: Project Runway.  I came across this show while staying on Kauai for two weeks back in 2006; by now I have watched all of the episodes on Netflix.  Season 10 ended last week, and tonight begins Project Runway All-Stars.  Ironically, I couldn’t care less about fashion, which basically strikes me as frivolous.  I watch the show because of the issue of creativity: In each episode the designers are given a challenge which employs a limited amount of money and time to accomplish the challenge.  I am fascinated and excited by watching the ways in which various designers take the challenge and bring something beautiful out of it, even when, as happened in one episode, the designers were taken to a Garden Shop and told that they had to use only items in the shop to construct their garment.

Whether or not we make…

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What we choose takes us somewhere


I have a friend whom I dearly love and yet hate to call on the phone.  Most of us will begin a phone conversation with “So, how are you?”  With this friend, that is the wrong question to ask.  She will, predictably, recount how unhappy she is and go on about what bad choices she has made in her life.  It tears my heart out to have this conversation because her past choices seem to prevent her from being present to her life today; instead, she still views herself as who she was in past, still held hostage by her foolish choices.

Bridges: We have all seen them.  They take us from one side to the other, from where we are to where we will be.  They are the physical incarnation of the moment in between before and after.  Throughout our lives we choose and cross bridges, winding up on…

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Hula, Icons, and Reverence

Hula is how Hawaii knows itself, how it speaks to itself, how it tells its story.


In the book “Unwritten Literature of Hawaii (The Sacred Songs of the Hula)” the author Nathaniel Bright Emerson speaks of the halau or hall in which old Hula was performed.  Originally the halau was viewed as a temple for a god in which there was always the kuahu, or altar, as the visible temporary abode of the deity.  Upon the kuahu might stand a rough block of wood arrayed in yellow tapa cloth which bodily presence represented the presence of the god itself.  The only expressions proper to the halau were reverence and respect, of which the hula expressed in rhythm, chant and strictly prescribed bodily movement.  Hula is how Hawaii knows itself, how it speaks to itself, how it tells its story.  Hula is the longing of Hawaii’s own heart made incarnate.

So why is it that some, if not many, non-Hawaiians equate the expressions of reverence and respect…

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“…lies, if indulged in, can be as addictive as heroin”


We’ve all done it: You’re telling a story and you exaggerate something, or even invent a “fact”, for dramatic effect.  Later, someone tells the story to someone else, who then comes to you about the story.  And, for a millisecond, you have no idea what they are talking about, until you remember your embellished tale.  From that moment on you are locked within the tale the way that you told it, lies and all.

There is a film entitled “Con Man” about James Hogue who wrangled himself into Princeton under the assumed name of Alexi Santana who invented a whole history for himself, none of it true.  One day he and his lies were found out, he was expelled from Princeton, and effectively disappeared for some years before the documentary-maker managed to track him down.  The thing is that James/Alexi did the same thing in High School, inventing a persona…

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