This morning I woke and lay in bed and thought of things as one does. Then I stopped and thought of my gratitude: first and foremost for this warm and dry bed. The power of a warm and dry bed cannot be under-estimated.
Then I prayed to my angel. I called her by name but softly, truly, not plainly as seems to have become my habit.
I said something like this, in my head: Dear —, if I am doing good work then please reward me for it. And/or help me to do better work, please.
By reward I meant financial reward specifically along with the usual rewards of feeling good and all that. We cannot in fact continue without financial reward. Society does not allow it. It’s not only for base-pyramid reasons but also upper-pyramid reasons. If you are not getting paid for your work your work will cease to be respected at a certain point. (“Oh her, well she just sits around all day and makes art while her husband/wife does all the truly hard work earning the money.”) (Meanwhile the husband/wife is perhaps working equally hard, but not harder. The only difference is that they are getting paid more fairly for their work, perhaps because they are better at ensuring they are paid fairly for it.) So energy is depleted for the artist, because there is so much negative energy coming at them of the kind: “That lazy selfish person. Well if I had so much time all day I could create nice things as well.”
When in fact the people thinking that are perhaps spending their time doing their hair, watching Netflix or YouTube, online shopping or drinking with friends. Or perhaps they invest all their time do-gooding to feed their own ego or assuage their own guilt, and not because they actually enjoy it. None of these people is lazier than the other or better than the other, it’s that the productive and prolific artist chooses to spend more of their time on different “obsessions,” shall we call them, than the person who is not productive and prolific in their art. It all comes down to choices. We have to choose what we do with our time. We have to hold ourselves more accountable than anyone else.
Next I sat up and did my sit-ups in the bed. I never want to do sit-ups. The funny thing is the minute I actually push aside the covers and brave the chill in the air and do that first sit-up, right there on the mattress, I can do the rest. I do them on the mattress because my tailbone hurts if I do them on the floor. Next I push down the switch on the electric kettle. I am lucky enough to have an electric kettle in my room, partly because I saw someone else with this system, when I was lucky enough to stay at their house as a guest, and some years later I got one for myself and plugged it in.
Then I lie on my stomach on the thin rug that I bought at the local store when they were on promo. It’s one of those beautiful tightly woven mats and it is very natural and earthy. At the time it felt like a splurge even though it was only $19.99. To some people this rug would be a total luxury and I am grateful for it, and also grateful to my husband for being such a good money-earner. And I am grateful to myself for helping him evolve as one.
Yes I do begin to acknowledge my part in things now. Even though I haven’t received a paycheque in my own name, for this work, I have buoyed his spirits and encouraged him to communicate his needs and I have helped him write letters and resumes and I have helped fight his discouragement demons like I could never fight my own back then. Not to mention that I have been the primary caregiver for our children. And when he became successful enough for us to comfortably pay the bills again, plus a bit extra, I also counselled him to stop seeking higher and higher earning jobs and instead take ones with better work environments, mentalities and commute times. And now, although as for everyone, work is still hard, I hear him tell hilarious stories of his camaraderie with his ultra-intelligent and interesting work mates, and respectful stories of most of his “superiors” and although I’m a little envious at times, for all that sometimes-fun and paid work, I am mostly so, so happy for him. And I am very grateful that he cooks beautiful meals when he is home. Because he doesn’t always like my cooking and I don’t always like to cook.
So I am grateful for the rug even though it is a little thin and the floor is cold since we have no central heat. I then begin my back crunches — I lie on my stomach with arms and legs outstretched and I lift my straight arms and legs up off the floor, like a bow, repeatedly. Then I do my pushups. I don’t like to do those either — I don’t like to do any floor exercise, really, in my head, but once I do the first one it’s fine. I hold my body like plank from my ankles to my shoulders and I repeatedly press my chest toward the floor. Then I kneel on all fours and do leg lifts to tone my bum because some years ago I saw it was getting flat, and I like to have a rounded bum. My husband jokes that his bum is so perfectly round that scientists could use his to calibrate their instruments. He is probably right. He says this with a Schwarzenegger accent and it always makes me laugh. I love when men self-promote in a joking way. You can leave your hat on and all that.
After my leg lifts I am at my favourite part. It’s the yoga sun salutation. Since I am on all fours after the leg lifts I start at the bottom of the wheel, which is the “salutation to the one who nourishes.” It’s a kind of position like an inchworm, where my chest, chin and hands are touching the ground, and I take the opportunity to thank the earth in my mind. I move up through the yoga salutation wheel from there, and then back down again, finishing with child’s pose.
But this morning I didn’t do it that way. I instead crouched softly with my hands and cheek flat against the mat and I said a version of the AA morning prayer, but in my head, something like this: dear — I offer myself to you, to do with me as you will. Please release me from the bonds of ego, that I may better do your will. Please take away my troubles, that others may see proof of your power, your love and your way of life, and come to know the same, so that their troubles may be taken from them also. But I did not “say” this in so many words. I sort of thought it in shapes and colours and emotions. That sounds complicated. It’s not complicated. It’s just I’ve said the prayer so often I don’t need to say it anymore. Though I remembered it by heart now as I typed it here.
Then I walked a few paces around the foot of the bed to the skylight, to investigate the low light that was shining through it. It was the moon, a perfect eighth sliver, and she was shining between the lowest branches of Esmerelda. The sky was dark all around her. It was a holy kind of sight.
I was very grateful indeed for that and I did my sun salutation there, in that other narrow floor space instead, under the skylight facing the east. It is the place between the old trunk at the foot of my bed, and the desk I brought here from Cambridge. It’s a beautiful desk, more of a vanity table really, long and narrow and in sturdy, simple, solid pine. But it has some lovely details carved into it and that’s what I love about it best. That and the fact that it is solid and woodsy and has a burnished natural patina made by time, which contrasts against the plain white plastered wall and ceiling, and complements the fresh oak beams that my husband put in himself, when he remade the roof. I bought the desk from the local charity shop, when we lived in Cambridge, for $50, then brought it here in the trailer we bought to make the international move back home. No matter how “rich” we get I will always love buying useful, beautiful second hand furniture at reasonable prices and apparently, carting it from country to country.
On my desk I have an amazing piece of artwork from one of my favourite artists, perhaps in fact my most favourite artist at this time, yes I think so. And I love many artists of many styles. Perhaps it’s because she shares her work and process so freely and prolifically.
She makes art like a shaman might make art. Every line and shape and symbol has meaning. I splurged on this art and I have never spent so much money on a piece of art before. Even though in the scope of things it was hardly any money especially considering the work and spirit and sacrifice involved in making it.
Artists sacrifice many common things to make their art, such as time, money and the esteem of others. Often we only see artists once they begin to gain traction and get successful, and we have not seen the years of working unnoticed that came before that. Although I had not spent so much money on art before I was determined to do it when I saw this piece of her(s) go for sale. I want to support things that I love, so that the things I love will continue to exist.
And now this art sits casually, unframed, like a holy thing on my desk.
After I did my sun salutation I unplugged my laptop from the cord at the desk, and I came back to my bed with it where it is warm, under the duvet, to write this.
Nadine inhales & exhales words & images from current vantage point in Zone of Emptiness, France. If you wish to contribute and/or show appreciation, please recommend/like and/or comment — or send email via the contact page. Thank you so much for reading. ❤︎
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