I recently realized that when my wonderful friend wanted to share with me what they were going through, which concerned what I was doing as well; my ears got what they wanted to listen to based on what I was feeling at the moment and my own predispositions about the situation. So I thought I was "hearing" but in fact I was only "listening." To this friend, when I realized the error of my way I did apologize for not hearing them and not being a good friend when I really wanted to be. So this is the reason for this blog. If we want to hear our friend, or anyone for that matter, instead of just listening, we should really clear ourselves first. Clear ourselves, of how we are being impacted, feelings about ourselves, our prejudices, our predispositions, our beliefs, our intentions, and hear from a place of pure love. If we want to hear we should be as an observer/witness with unconditional love to what our friend is saying; in the same manner that we would observe/witness our minds and ourselves ... a loving neutral third party observer. Is it easy? Probably not, since at the time that your friend starts talking, "first step," and a very important one, is to realize where you are at before your friend starts talking to you, and then you would need to take a little minute to adjust your tuning so that you can "hear" rather than just "listen." You might have to either stop them take a minute or two so that you can readjust, and if that is not possible then tell your friend that you want to be a good friend and you like to hear them rather than just listen so it might be better for them to give you a little time so that you can clear your head and feelings before they talk to you. However, if you miss the first step, well then it is downhill from there since you will not even get to the next step. The first step is always very important; to realize what you are doing and where you are at. For this particular friend I missed the first step and did not realize things until the next morning.
I do hope what I have stated here helps you become a better friend. And I hope that all my friends (specially this great friend) knows that I am sorry if I was "listening" when I should have been "hearing," which is what you would expect from your friend. I want to be a better friend and I will be following my own advice.
I would like to close with three of my favorite quotes about friendship from Kahlil Gibran. In the meantime Keep on Watching, Living, Loving, and most important of all Enjoying.
“When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the “nay” in your own mind, nor do you with hold the “aye""
“My friend, I am not what I seem. Seeming is but a garment I wear — a care-woven garment that protects me from thy questionings and thee from my negligence. The "I" in me, my friend, dwells in the house of silence, and therein it shall remain for ever more, unperceived, unapproachable.”
"And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.
For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.
And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed."
Today like most days that I don't have my son I got up and after getting ready I head downstairs to my office. And from the time I woke up to about noon I had not stepped outside and just by looking from the windows it seemed to me that it was a hot and humid day. At noon I decided to go out and as soon as I drove the car out of the garage with the windows down, I was pleasantly surprised how wonderful the air felt and how much cooler and pleasant the weather was from what I had perceived.
The moral to this story is that our perceptions and beliefs trick us, make things very rigid, and don't leave much room for expansion. Perceptions and beliefs could be about something small and non-trivial to bigger more trivial aspects of life. It could be as small as I believe that I have to have my coffee every morning otherwise I will be a zombie, to I must behave and do certain things in order to be accepted by the masses and that they don't judge me. But no matter how small or big, if you like to expand your life, then the first step is to become aware of these beliefs and perceptions. And being aware means not judging yourself or why you have a certain belief but be more of a neutral observer and allow those beliefs come to surface. The next step is to go to the root of them without judging yourself or putting blame on yourself or others, just see where they are coming from ... as if you are on a lovely path and does not matter what direction you go it will be pretty nice. The more you practice this awareness, the more these beliefs loose their power and grip over you, and you find yourself pleasantly surprised, just as I was by today's gorgeous weather. All it takes is awareness and a non-judgmental loving attitude toward yourself and even your beliefs.
I would like to end with some of my favorite quotes from Osho on this topic, and remember to keep on Watching, Living, Loving, and most important of all Enjoying.
“There is great difference between trust and belief. Trust is personal, Belief is social.” - Osho
“If you have a belief and you come against an experience which the belief says is not possible, or, the experience is such that you have to drop the belief, what are you going to choose — the belief or the experience? The tendency of the mind is to choose the belief, to forget about the experience. That’s how you have been missing many opportunities" Osho
"Do you understand the difference between invention and discovery? A discovery is about truth, an invention is manufactured by you. It is man-manufactured fiction. Certainly it has given consolation, but consolation is not the right thing! Consolation is opium. It keeps you unaware of the reality, and life is flowing past you so quickly – seventy years will be gone soon. Anybody who gives you a belief system is your enemy, because the belief system becomes the barrier for your eyes, you cannot see the truth. The very desire to find the truth disappears. But in the beginning it is bitter if all your belief systems are taken away from you. The fear and anxiety which you have been suppressing for millennia, which is there, very alive, will surface immediately. No God can destroy it, only the search for truth and the experience of truth – not a belief – is capable of healing all your wounds, of making you a whole being." Osho
There are two types of artist:
What this second group has forgotten is the fact that Art is everywhere, Art is in the eye of the beholder, anyone can create and be creative without a formal education, and that the artist first and foremost creates for him or herself. In college I took an Art Appreciation class; I loved this class not only because I got to see some beautiful artwork, but mostly because the class focused on "What is Art?". It was because of this class and my professor that I got to appreciate art in every form and that anything can be art as long as the person creating the artwork is communicating with his/her audience through the artwork.
So to all the people that would love to get back to creating or are creating in secret out of fear of others opinions; come out and create. Let your feelings shine in your artwork. And know that there are many artists out there eager to help, teach and promote your work. This is the group that has professionals and non professional, beginners and experts. The kind of artist that don't care where they show their work or who is buying their work; as long as they are creating and reaching their audiences' hearts and minds. And Yes we do have our own ship everyone is welcome.
I would like to leave you with some great inspiring quotes to get you started on your creative journey and leave your fears behind:
"The artist cannot look to others to validate his efforts or his calling. If you don't believe me, ask Van Gogh, who produced masterpiece after masterpiece and never found a buyer in his whole life - Steven Pressfield"
"If you hear a voice within you say „you cannot paint“, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced - Van Gogh"
"Art may be bad, good or indifferent, but, whatever adjective is used, we must call it art, and bad art is still art in the same way as a bad emotion is still an emotion - Marcel Duchamp"
"A great work of art is an expression of personal creativity. The source of creativity is what makes the quality of a work of art miraculous - Dürer"
And from one of my favorite art magazines Catapult Art ... "Let Us Shine Together:"
So I am a big time hugger ... I love receiving hugs as well as giving hugs; I even put xoxo in most of my emails, text, posts, etc. The other day I noticed that something so seemingly simple takes up so much thought process. You ask WHY? Well I noticed that in my interactions with people, in person or online, I often hesitate from giving hugs because I wonder if it is appropriate, is the other person going to read to much into it, or is it going to be just taken as an exchange of pure love. To give you an example a Middle Eastern male that I have never met posted a wonderful comment on one of my art postings on Facebook; and I make the distinction between Middle Eastern Men and others since it seems I have a "belief" that they tend to read to much more into a hug than other males. So when responding to his comment I ended it with a xoxo, but before posting it, at first I removed the xoxo thinking that it might seem inappropriate; after several seconds of going back and forth I just put ooo.
Just a very simple example of how our mind and beliefs keep us from doing things that really make us feel good and happy, because of our prejudices, judgements, habits, etc. In this hug situation I used to put the focus on the other people rather than on myself and what truly would make me happy. Needless to say I put xoxo whenever I want to and I give hugs to strangers. I am like this guy in the video below, that probably if most of you saw would think he is a freak :) Moral of the story, do what makes you happy, share the love, let go of beliefs that don't serve you, and stop the mind chatter. And if you see me with a sign "Free Hugs" come and give me a BIG HUG. In the meantime Keep on Watching, Living, Loving, and most important of all Enjoying.
Today I had an interesting experience while I was running. I am getting ready for my second half marathon. It was such a beautiful day today and I decided to go for a long run; a quarter marathon. After the initial start it was so interesting to see a conflict between my mental state and physical state. Physically my body was saying "no problem, we got this, piece of cake, we can either keep the same time as last time or maybe even beat it" but then mentally my mind was saying "are you out of your mind, you can barely make this run, we cant' do it, we are tired, lets just walk, there is no way you are ready, ..." And then there is ME just running. When I would get my mind busy on something other than running and then watch my running, it would seem as if I could run even a marathon at a fantastic pace. When I would allow the mind to start its chatter about running, then it would seem that I was tired and could not breath. Needless to say that I did have a fantastic run, and actually the last mile I had my fastest time (8'13" min/mile). Moral of the story, the mind will trick you, put fear in your, make you doubt, .... but you can have some fun with it by just watching it like a tantruming child; it is best not to engage with it. And just like the tantruming child it is going to get tired of kicking and screaming at some point, slowly it will quite down, and the tantrums will be less sever each time. In the meantime Keep on Watching, Living, Loving, and most important of all Enjoying.
Artist thoughts on life, love, happiness and spirituality.