I’ve been longing for artistic community. Ever since I returned to the real world and left behind the magic of the residency in Nebraska, I’ve felt this lack, this awareness of something missing. And it seems fairly obvious that what I no longer have is a group of comrades, working together, discussing ideas and inspiring each other.
There is this Buddhist idea that you have what you need at all times, if you are able to become fully aware. We humans tend to find the one thing we’re don’t have — and then miss out on acknowledging all the things we do. For example, you might neglect to notice all the love in your life — and instead focus on a broken heart. It takes a certain amount of grace to be aware of all the good and to remember that all of the bad, the entropy, the disorder is just one part of the picture.
In my attempts to be more present, I think it’s important to stop for a bit and be grateful for the community that I do have. Since starting the blog, Rhonda has been sending me an inspirational text message every morning, little quotes and sweet sayings to start my day. It is an amazing way to wake up.
Also, every day, my friend, the musician Mark Richardson, has been sending me songs that he has written over the years with explanations of where he was, what he was feeling and what the words mean. I eagerly look forward to the emails, listening to the melodies and reading what he wrote.
And then there’s the mail. Luckily, I have stumbled upon a few letter-writers lately. I am so grateful to receive a letter from Aimee, a postcard from Selina, a CD from Ben, writing from Carmella, a long note from a writer in Houston, Greg Oaks. It feels liberating to write letters again — it helps clear my thoughts and reminds me that communication can be so much deeper than the usual email, social media interaction or even phone call.
I am thankful for the artists who do call me as well to discuss art, especially for Justin Dunford, who is the most talented and always willing to give me a critique of a painting. I am lucky to have new friends like Daylan who will talk about art over coffee. And it helps me to focus on all of this — instead of sitting around missing my lunches with Angela Dillon, stopping into Kevin Peterson’s studio in Houston or my many happy hours, dinners and evenings at the Art Farm.
I still desire bringing back what I had at the Art Farm to my regular life, capturing that essence somehow. I still want to figure out a way to build a community here and now. But I need to stop and take time to appreciate and acknowledge what I have already — because it’s a lot.