Detachment & Surrender are Not Dirty Words, Anymore

 

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I was in the car driving through the beautiful Ojai, California area with a friend recently and I was explaining what happened a long time ago when I got laid off from a very well paying job. I often spent 17 hour days working through crazy deadlines as part of defining what websites should be, their interactions and what a company's presence was online. And when I lost that job simply because the client I was assigned to stopped their work on their website due to economic times, I lost my identity. My friend used the word detached to describe my reactions to this whole moment and it caught in my throat. I never thought of it that way.  I did detach. Bigtime. Severely. In ways that still affect my ability to work for others. If you identify with your job as your usefulness, your contribution, and that is stripped away, who are you? 

As we drove through the mountains, I told her that at the time I really had to reevaluate my place in the world as I identified myself with my work. I came up short and I have been chasing that idea of wholeness ever since. That event brought me to my knees and looking back on that lesson I have realized it was the beginning of learning to surrender. Though, until recently, surrender is not a word that I have even worked into my vocabulary. 

I never really climbed back aboard that "work til you drop / take one for the team" train too often since. I work more efficiently and I define my output as part of the quality that I want to own. I redefined my sense of self and I moved it to the work that I produce and not the job that I am in. Now that I am updating and shifting the balance in my life to creating more art and really trying to find the "whole", I am finding that detachment and surrender aren't such dirty words to me anymore. 

In those months after losing that job I quickly got another job. It was one of prestige in my industry and on paper, a beautiful experience. But I have been looking beyond ever since. I guess looking for some shiny object that does not exist. In Buddhism, the idea of desire and its cause of so much suffering is front and center. Sometimes you just have to run into a brick wall to snap you out of continuous cycles. Buddhists call it samsara, Catholics call it purgatory, but no matter what religion, it is the same. I am slowly eroding this ever present desire for more. A desire to have something else. A need to fulfill a perceived brokenness. A way to fill a hole that never seems to fill. And through this erosion, I am finding a sense of detachment. Not a cold or inhuman place, but an opening into being able to receive more input. It becomes like reeds in the wind on the marsh - you ride it and the effect of the winds are less destructive.

This place of detachment is like a deep breath of acceptance because at the end of the day, it is our reaction to the craziness of life that defines us, not what happens to us. I may even offer the word surrender...

~b

 

Art & Ego: Are they diametrically opposed states?

 

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In reading "The New Earth" by Eckhart Tolle, I ran across this statement: "If you are content with being nobody in particular, content not to stand out, you align yourself with the power of the universe. What looks like weakness to the ego is in fact the only true strength. This spiritual truth is diametrically opposed to the values of our contemporary culture and the way it conditions people to behave."

Ok. I get it. My head gets it, is maybe a better summation. What is hard is that being an artist and working to "get my artwork out there"; it is an odd place to be in. The idea of surrender is a hard thing to get used to since I like a healthy dose of control. And the idea of marketing oneself is also a direct opposition to surrender. Now I will say, the art will get done not matter what. I am compelled to create it. I am also compelled to share it. That is what it is there for. I spend a lot of time doing it, thinking about it, defining its thesis and sharing the ideations that come from all of those exercises. That is the most amazing thing in our current cultural shift of a sharing online community - the ability to put yourself out there.

Does this run against the concept of an ego-less self?

An ego-less state is this sense of quiet. A knowing. Not a place or intent to make others hear you. Or see you. It is Being. And making art is sharing; a loud or a quiet place of 'See Me'. At what point does its creation turn itself into a place 'being in service'? There is a sense of power to make something and bring it into this world - something that did not exist before you made it. And there you have the ego. And if you create something and you do not share it, it falls to the wayside and you are in direct opposition to the muses that offer you a path to the creative spirit. No one wants to shit on that. Your state of nothingness is a tragedy since we are all meant to be here to create. It is not only music or art, it is full creation of being. 

I have no answers here and since I am writing this blog I am obviously participating in the social community and a ego-centric space of sharing. And it feels great to be noticed, to have my art liked, or hated and most importantly - discussed (right behind being bought). The only thing that I know to fall back on is that I do come from a place of curiosity, authenticity and a pure desire to 'make'. That will not change and as I strive to connect to that inner still state, I can at best, keep the ego in check and understand that it is there but it is not ruling.

So show up and create, fail and create some more...

~b