Saturday, December 3, 2011

Listening to that inner child

Having spent most of my adult life in rural environments, I love images like this.  I suppose you could say it's a chicken and egg problem: do I live in rural environments because this is what I love, or do I love these images because this is where I live?

But the fact is, this pleases me.  So I have lots of pictures like this one, and was delighted when I was invited to participate in the farm-centered show that opened last night -- and I had great fun mounting bunches of images like this one on little wooden cradles; they look adorable hanging on the wall, and add charm to some of those odd spaces we all have in our houses.

But I woke up cranky this morning, and I realized, after some thought (why does it take me so long to process these things?) that I was cranky because the gallery chose to display them all flat, on a platform.  No one seemed to understand what they were, and the light totally grayed them out because it bounced off them instead of illuminating the depth of them.

What's odd is that some part of me wanted to sweep them all up into my arms and carry them away, to say, "It's okay, you're not ugly, you're adorable and you are loved; we'll take you somewhere where you are appreciated."  Clearly I am WAY more emotionally engaged with these pieces than I usually am with my work.

So what's that about?  Is it just because they are small (only 3" x 5") and I feel protective of them?  Am I projecting something of myself onto them?  (Well, duh, probably!)  Oh, good (as my neighbor Joanna says), something new to work on!  Thinking about it this morning in my meditation time (my brain refused to release me into peace and quiet), I came to see that the piece of me that wants to be pretty and appreciated was squalling like a 2-year-old: Unfair!  Not Fair! 

Once I understood that, I was able to calm that part of me down and promise I'd attempt to solve the problem.  So I've written to my curator friend to explain this; I'm not sure if he'll do anything about it but at least I've expressed my concerns. It was a perfectly calm note, I think, but I'm not sure it would have been if I'd written it before meditating.

When we have these parts of us that object to things, they have a disturbing tendency to take us over.  And though they're using grown-up words, they're really very small children at heart, and pretty irrational -- not to mention ineffective.  If I hadn't stopped to get in touch with what was driving my feelings, I could easily have written a rather nasty little diatribe -- you know the kind, the angry ones whose sentences start with "You never" or "You always" or -- worse still, "You #$$^^%!"

But the fact is, the gallery is not my enemy. They want these pieces to sell as much as I do.  So if I share the information I have that they may not have had time to acquire, I am doing both of us a favor.  Let's start by assuming we're on the same side here, right?

Which makes me wish, sometimes, that our political leaders would spend some time meditating before they go off on their diatribes, and before they declare wars.  Wouldn't it be better for all of us if each of us took the time to understand that we really do all want the same things -- we just have different ideas and information on how to get them?  Maybe if we could defuse the angry upset children inside us and just speak grown-up to grown-up the world would be a lot more peaceful place. 

But mostly I just have to start right here, with me.  Learn to listen carefully to the part of me that's upset rather than stuffing her down, belittling her, or letting her take over.  She has useful information to share -- we all do -- but I need to take the time to listen -- and let her know I love her and take her concerns seriously.


Joyce Wycoff said...

Our art is like our children ... we gave birth to them and we want them to be loved and adored as we do. However, other people's children (or artwork) are seldom as appreciated as much as our own.

Balancing our protective maternal self with the understanding that we must let go and let them live in the world is a challenge ... and I'm sure it will remain a challenge.

Thanks for this insightful post ... and your children are truly lovely!

Louise Gallagher said...

my eldest daughter today said, "You're an inverse paranoid mom." Oh?

"Yes. You believe the world is conspiring with you to make it better."

This is an insightful post Diane -- and your inverse paranoia is refreshing! :)

Maureen said...

I always so admire how you pose a question or problem and then work through it, at least as you reveal that here in your post, work through it to own it and find its solution or accommodation or some possibility not clear at the outstart.

So pleased to have your friendship.

Diane Walker said...

Thank you, all three of you, SO MUCH, for the different perspectives you bring to this space. I SO APPRECIATE YOU!!!

... I'm still trying to get my head around this idea of inverse paranoia... Mostly hoping it's not too much like being a Pollyanna...