Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Looking into the flames

There's something deeply satisfying about these pieces I've been concocting. This one is constructed entirely of rusty parts of boats; I'm suspecting it has something to do with that phrase that emerged in yesterday's post, "dying to be reborn."

I like thinking that there is beauty lurking in what is old and used, and that it can be melted and reformed into something that has grace, and liveliness. Which may be why this morning's book was something called Transitions. I picked up the book a while ago, back when my husband first lost his job, but then I never opened it.

Looking at this image now, and seeing what I chose to read today, I think my art is telling me that the time has come to take a look at all the fires of change that are surging beneath the surface here -- there is a growing sense of intensity, and some part of me wants to embrace and encourage that without getting burned.

I'd like to think that's a noble effort: to arm myself that I may proceed bravely into the fire and learn what needs to be learned. But I also know that that desire comes out of a deep need for control.

The book asks an important question pretty early on: "Looking back over your ending experiences, what can you say about your own style of bringing situations to a close? Is it abrupt and designed to deny the impact of the change, or is it so slow and gradual that it is hard to see that anything important is happening? Do you tend to be active or passive in these terminal situations? That is, is it your initiative that brings things to term or do events just happen to you? Some people learn early to cultivate a subtle sort of receptivity to coincidence, or they become skilled at covertly inviting other people to act upon them when change is in the wind. These people are characterized by a kind of blamelessness in regard to endings. They had no choice, they seem to say. The situation was beyond their control."

My own personal style in such matters -- and I'm not particularly proud of it -- is to keep my head in the sand for a long time, and then, at some point, some part of me gets kicked awake and starts loudly keeping score: "He did that terrible thing... How many more times will you let that happen?... This is awful... How could they do that?..." You get the drift. I stop seeing the value in the situation and start tallying bad points, knowing that at some point the cumulative effect will propel me out the door.

Because I am also the leaver, the one who brings things to term, I never leave without first making certain I can justify my departure: I definitely have a little of the long-suffering victim thing going -- and I suspect some of that, however messy the situation I leave, is of my own creation. So why am I looking at this now? Perhaps because I got a little close to those flames again, a few weeks back, and I am determined to take responsibility without demonizing.

The good news is that when we take time to look into the flames, to examine our own methods and motives and question the accusations of evil that we so loudly hurl onto those around us -- or the boss from hell, or the federal government, or Al-qaeda -- wherever your particular hurling ground lives -- it can teach us a lot about our deepest wants and fears. Which, after all, is how I ended up figuring out that I wanted to go to grad school: I realized that the fury I was expressing elsewhere was fueled by a deep longing inside me to complete a path I'd wanted to begin years ago.

Which doesn't mean I don't still blow hot and cold on the decision. But it does mean I'm listening, and watching, and trying to proceed carefully and consciously forward.

It's all good...


Maureen said...

Excellent post. Really like these images you're featuring.

M.L. Gallagher said...

it's all good.

Thank you for sharing these images -- and your thoughts -- it's all good.