Safe and protected

April 13, 2010 § Leave a comment

A few years back, I was taking beginners piano lessons from my beautifully gifted friend, Tom.  At some point along the way, I brought up the fact that I was indulging in a rather self-motivated pursuit – learning to play the piano.   But Tom set me straight in a way I’ll never forget.  “Music and art are purely giving exercises,” he told me.  Now, many years later, I’m pondering this idea and I know he was right.  But it took my own personal efforts and struggles to arrive at the same conclusion.

A few weeks ago, I wrote in my journal this exact same idea.  I am reflecting on the process of making my own film Taxi Casablanca, partly because I am trying to make sense of an artistic process that was chaotic and difficult, however rooted in inspiration and beauty.  Why was it so  hard?

As I am growing up and getting distance from my experiences, I am seeing things in new ways, carefully approaching my memories of past experiences, trying to make sense of it all.

I have been doing the Artists Way workbook since early December, writing three pages in my journal every morning.  Moving through the clutter in my head and defining the kind of artist I want to be.  I’ve concluded that art is, indeed, always an exercise of giving.  When I took on the challenge of bringing to life a feature film, shot in Arabic, in a foreign country,  I was driven to create and reveal a story that had totally seduced me.  The story of a female taxi driver in Morocco was a mythical idea replete with metaphor and I wanted to tell this story – no –  I had to tell this story.

Art is a relationship, and like all relationships, they require both giving and protection.  I was giving all the energy I had into my project, but I wasn’t at the same time protecting myself.  My film was a precious journey, and an act of giving life.  We can only ever give life when we are safe and protected. We can only ever give life when we are strong. We have to trust our instincts, protect ourselves from people and circumstances that don’t, or can’t for whatever reason, be as committed to this life-giving process that the project absolutely needs.

In the film industry, circumstances are very complicated. There is a lot of money flowing, there are deadlines and there are technological breakdowns.   To be an artist in this environment is very difficult.  If you are dedicated to your project because it is telling a story that is somehow connected to your own life story and to your own spiritual/emotional/artistic growth, then you will go to any lengths for this creation.   You are giving to the project, and that is your only goal.  Eventually, when the project is finished, you are giving it back to the world.  True success is a form of giving and dedication and respect for how a project needs to grow.

So now, nearly one year later, I am picking up the pieces and still in a period of reflection.   I wonder if inner growth doesn’t always run parallel alongside worldly growth, and if these two aspects of life aren’t both always and intricately active.  A new job isn’t always just a new job and a paycheque, if we’re lucky, we’re also gaining new perspectives, new relationships, new insights, evolving on the inside as much as we are evolving on the outside.

So my new goal, as I am in between “projects” is to get really healthy and strong and happy!

So here I am today, on the second day of a juice feast, inspired by one of my dearest friends Katrina and her husband David (juicefeasting.com)  As I fill the house with fruits and veggies that I’ll be juicing over the next six days, I notice the smells of purity and cleanliness inside the house.   Ahhh, sometimes moments of peace are so appreciated!

This is another step in the right direction.

This morning, I remembered a lovely exert from Sharon Salzbourg’s book on Loving-Kindness

If we do our work then manifold benefits will surely come.  Fortunately, the Buddha was characteristially precise about what those benefits include. He said that the intimacy and caring that fill our hearts as the force of lovingkindness develops will bring eleven particular advantages: 

1) You will sleep deeply

2) You will wake easily 

3) You will have pleasant dreams

4) People will love you

5) Devas (celestial beings) and animals will love you

6) Devas will protect you. 

7) External dangers (poisons, weapons, and fire) will not harm you. 

8) Your face will be radiant. 

9) Your mind will be serene

10) You will die unconfused

11) You will be reborn in happy realms. 

May all being be safe and protected.

Mary


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