The Onion Girl: Peeling Away the Unnecessary

Photo by: ©Beth Ortman Studio

Photo by: ©Beth Ortman Studio

First I took away the label of "artist" and then I thought about what to purge next... This is the idea that came out of the fog as I have been working out defining my quest to pull my dharma out from the shadows. 

My idea of dharma is about aligning oneself with their purpose. What I am here to do. For me, dharma involves merging the micro and the macro, the personal and the universal. I have been looking at the minimalist culture for awhile and in addition to the removal of stuff and excess, I am also looking at the paradigm for how to build each day around dharma. Minimalism can also be about refining and peeling away the layers of the ego, the false self. These layers are like an onion. Each layer represents fear, addiction, personal stories, false selves, etc. Instead of buying things, or looking outward for some level of comfort or internal affirmation, I have been stripping away those notions in order to look inwards at purpose. It is tough. The foundation is unsteady and I am starting to venture into the realm of faith.

When watching TV to numb us no longer works and boredom rears its ugly head, what are we left with? A consumer culture wants to remind us that we are missing things, that we are incomplete. We have stores, Container Store, for example, that tell us how to store our unwanted or unnecessary things. A box store of boxes. And it is a wildly successful place. There are things to buy, successes to achieve, money to make. But if we look around honestly, we can recognize that these make up the very things that make us unhappy.

This is super overwhelming and it is a tough place to be when trying to work out a way that does not involve this stuff. If we look inwards and ask "What am I here for?", there is a responsibility of choice to follow that voice or ignore it. For me, over the last 2-3 years, I have made this a priority. It is not something that happens over night and it is not something that will be a light switch solution but it is a wildly rewarding hardship.

I am asking these questions: What does your day look like when the need to run in circles working for others is removed? What does it look like to work for yourself? What can you remove in order to utilize time and within those hours align with your purpose? What are you doing each day that will elevate your reason to be here so that others are part of that energy? What does a day look like when you remove the "self" and use your purpose in a universal way? There is something really important that comes from this. The idea of personal self opens to universal self. Our actions affect each other. If we are kinder to ourselves, we are kinder to each other. For me, my path belongs to defining how art breeds compassion.

~b

 

 

 

Do we create our own luck when we align with dharma?

 

Photography by © Beth Ortman Studio

Photography by © Beth Ortman Studio

Do we create our own luck when we align with dharma?

I will ask up front, is this even a valid question? With that being said, I want to explore this notion. In the last couple of weeks, I have been listening a lot to the On Being radio interviews while doing my artwork. Krista Tippett generally starts her interviews off with discovering a little about the subject's upbringing. For the most part I have started with the musicians and the artists that she interviews. I find music to be an essential component of my life and a necessity to my art.

There is a theme that has come up over and over and it is that of "following your authenticity" or "following your dharma" as well as these people seem to be enormously curious. Someone in these interviewee's life made some level of impression on them that this message stuck. Now comes in the question of luck. Is the luck that they were raised by someone giving them that advice, or met someone important to them or were they open to it when they heard it? Does luck play into anything or is it a case of being open to threads of advice and happen-stance? I find this to be a fascinating question because luck seems so impersonal and these stories are full of personal meaning. For me art is motivated by the personal and it becomes universal when it achieves its own voice. There is a separation of the work of art and the artist once it is released into the world, but when it is being made, it comes from repetition, and doing the work. It is done from love, obsession, compulsion, curiosity, discipline, self-hatred, self-sacrifice, self-love... I could go on with the dichotomies.

The artist or musician, writer or physicist, etc. sits in their studio space creating something. Some work on their vision for years before it is shared and some get recognition. Most do not but that never stops them from continuing, This is where the dharma piece comes in. In the spiritual readings that I have been researching, and also my interpretation of them, it seems that following your path and aligning with dharma is what we are all here to do. In the case of the artist, there is a tangible, musical or theoretical "thing" that comes from this work. At what point is it that the person is strong enough to follow their dharma? When do they here that it is okay to create something regardless of its outcome?

If that person is moved into the limelight that gains an audience, is that luck? Or is it the following and aligning of dharma that becomes so strong and so matched that it moves past its creator and becomes so much more?

Anita Pollitzer wrote back and forth with Georgia O'Keeffe in the early career years when O'Keeffe was teaching in Amarillo, TX. Pollitzer presented O'Keeffe's watercolor sketches to Alfred Stieglitz in NYC many times. There was a point in this exchange of letters where Pollitzer announces to O'Keeffe that her vision had become universal. Stieglitz saw it and started to represent O'Keeffe in his gallery. Her work became universal and it became its own entity.

Luck or dharma? Where is the intersection of personal voice, hard work, luck and dharma? What are the crossroads that we come to that make our paths open to luck?

~ b

Check out On Being with Krista Tippett ... it is a treasure of thought-provoking ideas