Tag Archives: relationships

People Are Gifts

Holding sand loosely.

A friend of mine told me a personal story that mimics some of the things I’m going through as I make my way to trading in my home, my state and my country for an overseas adventure. She remembers a time when she was planning to leave Texas to attend an art school in New York City. Her family members were not supportive of her move and questioned her wanting to leave. They seemed to think if she did not want the life they had chosen for themselves, then that must mean that she did not want them. They thought, because she imagined a life different from theirs, she couldn’t possibly accept their life. This caused great sadness for my friend.

In my own life I’m starting to gather a collection of these kinds of stories. There are not many people I know in Dallas, Texas who are trying to get rid of their “stuff”. Consumerism is at an all time high in this city, evidenced through church buildings, homes, shopping malls and automobiles. In fact, I’m not exempt from this tendency but am working hard to change my ways.

You’d never know there was a global economic crisis going on here. For some, this is comforting. For me, it turns my gut inside out as I observe indifference to the world’s concerns. Even so, there are fantastic people here. I have many friends and family members here and I’m grateful and fortunate to have them. However, I’ve found if I reject their values or the things they’ve chosen for their own life, some seem to interpret it as I am rejecting them personally. I find this so curious. After talking with another friend about this she offered another possible reason for this. Sometimes, when people are making changes in their life and going against the grain of conformity, those that know them well don’t applaud them for their efforts in changing the status quo because it reminds them of what they did not do in their own life. For some, this philosophy seems to exist: If you like me, then you will be like me. My blogger mentor, Chris Guillebeau, wrote an article that really hit home with me about the love of friends. He says, “Some of the people you expect to be your biggest supporters will disappoint you—and some of the people you rarely thought about, or didn’t even know existed, will turn out to be your true friends.” You can find his entire article here.

This week will you think about this with me? We don’t own anyone. We are all uniquely made. People are given to us for a given amount of time and we have to hold those relationships loosely. When I was a young child, I remember being upset that a friend, who I adored, had abandoned me. I remember being outside and my mom grabbed a handful of warm sand from the sandbox. The fingers of her hand were loosely holding the sand when she said something like this, “Friends have to be held loosely. If you hold them tightly, they will run away.” As she said this, she began squeezing the sand and it freely ran out, between her fingers.

We don’t have the right to demand relationships. People drift in and sometimes, out of our lives; sometimes for a season, other times for a lifetime. People, while we know them, are a gift to us. They can teach us and enrich our life. Be grateful for those you love. Tell them you love them and applaud their successes. Encourage them to press on and be there if they change their mind and go off in a new direction.

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Art, yoga and cleaning out my house

Artist: Ricci Albenda, you're greedy, and you're selfish, 2008, acrylic on canvas panel, The Rachofsky Collection

My definition of art has evolved.

In the not-so-distant past, my limited definition would have included that art is another way to communicate, like a foreign language. It is a way of expressing thoughts and ideas, opinions and emotions, in the form of a painting, a song, a poem or a made object. Words and objects from past civilizations inform us about lifestyles and customs during specific times in history. Greek pottery is a perfect example. Although made for utilitarian purposes, picture-stories were painted across a vase much like picture-stories are splashed across the front of celebrity magazines. Many of the Greek stories were equally as scandalous, I might add!

But more recently I see the “whole of life” as art. Rather than solely producing an art object, I see the culmination of choices we make over the journey of a lifetime as art. It’s about the relationships we make and what we choose to give our life to. The medium for this kind of art is the passion itself. This is conceptual art in its truest sense. Because I have a passion for it, it is art. The world has become my studio for experimentation and my experiences with people are the product. Because my definition of art is expanding in this way, it is getting harder for me to continue to make “things”; harder still to continue to store things after they’re made. Currently I have a small studio in my home filled with a wide assortment of art materials and a garage full of objects and paintings I’ve created, that didn’t sell. The monthly mortgage I pay to store all these things has begun to seem ridiculous. With the money that I currently use to store my objects, I’d rather live with less and travel more.

I’ve learned by participating in yoga at Gaia Yoga, that aparigraha is the Sanksrit word for greedlessness. It means taking what is truly necessary and no more. The word parigraha, its opposite, means reaching out for something and claiming it for oneself. From within this concept of non-possessiveness I understand it to mean limiting my possessions to what is necessary or important. The consuming of materials and the continuing of making objects is becoming less and less important to me and I find that I’m becoming more willing to let things go. For those of you who know me, I’m hosting a HUGE Garage Sale on June 15 and 16. Mark your calendars!

There are some informative and inspirational blogs/people “out there” giving advice on how to minimize (most) Americans, seemingly inbred, trait to be consumers of all things. For example Dave Bruno’s book and blog The 100 Things Challenge  will summons you to reconsider the American dream, and instead live a life of simplicity. He asks us to consider creating a more valuable life instead of wasting both time and money on the accumulation of more things.

In his book, Simplify, and on his blog Becoming Minimalist, Joshua Becker gives his readers a list of the benefits of minimalism.  He also gives pointers on how to live with less.  For starters, go to his links on how to live with less junk mail. Becker’s blog is full of invaluable information on breaking the habit of consumerism. His tagline reads, “ Becoming Minimalist: Cause the best things in life aren’t things.” Amen, Brother Joshua!

In closing, please get a laugh and watch George Carlin’s 1986 classic standup routine about the importance of “stuff”. Let me know about your collection of stuff and what you plan to do with it.

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GMB AKASH

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