I completed Breath of the Beloved on the 4th of September, 2012 and spent a couple of days varnishing and waxing the painting before embarking on Lifespirit, the sixth and final painting in the series. I was pleased with how the inclusion of stones had worked on the previous painting and felt impressed to include them in this new art.
The previous five paintings had contained very little figurative work, so I was pretty surprised to see figurative forms appearing in the rough drawings I was working on. This piece had a very different feel to the others. At the time, my only connection to the outside world was my daily forays for morning coffee by the sea. A strong sense of connection with nature and the spirit of life was emerging. So was an old yearning for companionship. What I didn’t see coming was that this painting would delve deep into my romantic heart and bring up emotions from the past. Woman began showing up in my life, women that spun me around and shook the foundations of my composure. They brought total chaos to my solitude at a time when I really needed to be focused on my work.
The Universe has a wonderful way of drawing attention to situations that are thought to be long ago cleared and done. Wishful thinking, but not reality. These situations hold lessons so deeply rooted and multi-layered that they are bound to resurface. Perhaps in a slightly different guise. Perhaps with a comic twist. But always, for me, with a feeling of vulnerability.
At the Tara Open Studio
The energy that came from these encounters found its way into the art. It was very physical and very
sensual energy. I see now that Lifespirit is very much about the goddess, about the source of life and fertility. And this invoked the energy of my mother. No matter how spiritually grounded I felt, she had the ability to push a few buttons that would cause my composure to dissolve entirely. My spiritual grounding would be completely eroded, perhaps indicating that I wasn’t as grounded as I believed myself to be. The ego is great at manipulating us into a false sense of divinity. The ego is also great at creating stories that manipulate the truth. When my mother spoke, and she was very forthright, I was always waiting for the cutting remark. My mind was editing what she was saying, either altering it or disregarding it completely. Because I was expecting hurtful things to be said, I was creating a distorted story that was totally not true. When I became aware of how much misinterpretation was going on, I began to listen to her more closely and became more aware of who she was. I realised that rather than listening, I had been more focused on judging and responding. By listening I realised that she wasn’t really attacking me. Keeping my story telling ego at bay and stepping beyond this dynamic allowed us to be more open and safe in each others company. And I realised this dynamic extended well beyond my relationship with my mother. Sadly this new connection with my mother would be short lived as she died a few months later.
Now when I am speaking with someone, I often take their hand as a gesture of encouragement and indication that I am truly listening to what they have to say. I move into the space of the moment rather than a space that is littered with total nonsense. By holding their hand I step into a place of total commitment to be present and aware. And I am able to more fully enjoy the individual and the
moment we are sharing. There is deeper connection and closeness. Where as before with females I had met, I was no longer busy creating an impressive reply or drifting into some fantasy of what might be.
What did Lifespirit teach me? That I had been so locked in to thinking about me and my needs that I missed much of the magic in my life. I had been so busy racing to be somewhere other than where I was that I missed the utter magic of the moment. My days became more full of mindfulness, appreciating not the future but the present moment in time. When I began to stop and put down my phone, I was more aware of my company and my surroundings. It was rewarding food for the soul.
My eyes were opened to the magic of every moment and how the complex patterns of veins of a leaf, its colour, texture and smell, could draw me in to a deep feeling of oneness. Oneness isn’t achieved by doing, it is found through being. Being with no expectations and seeing life through eyes of wonder.
Lifespirit taught me how disconnected I had become from nature. There was so much I hadn’t seen before. I had admired landscapes as you would a painting, but never truly observed its complexity, the layers of life interacting with and dependent on each other. There is no spirituality here, just the common act of the Universe in motion. Life and death played out, neither good nor bad. It just is. It just is a world finely balanced.
Balanced. I discovered how attached I was to stuff, thinking that the world owed me something for all the pain I had endured in my life. Yes, as a human being I do need certain things. But now that need to get is balanced with a desire to give. To make a humble offering to the world, and do what I can to make it a better place to live. This was a fundamental thinking shift for me yet I wouldn’t see the fruits of this mind change until arriving at the Hill of Tara in 2014. I still had to go through another major upheaval through the next painting before that happened.