Samhain (a new year)
I’ve been trying to get this latest newsletter out of my system. It’s been difficult. It's really not a newsletter, until you get to the very end. I'm trying to make sense of life stuff and I'm also feeling like being a bit private while also wanting to share, so here is the best I can do right now. I appreciate your interest.
I remember once, when I was twenty years old. I was reading and writing a lot. Diaries, novels, philosophers... I was deep in thought about life and experience and how "hard times" can be perceived as something more than “hard times.” They are fuel for creation. Data. Reasons to write and make art. -The kind of things twenty-year-olds think of.
One night, around that time, I had just watched the remake of 1984 and boy did it made me cry. As the credits rolled I wrote in my journal, alone in my bedroom, alone in the trailer my family lived in. That night I wrote and even said out loud in-between sobs, “Bring it on!” I was referring to all of life I seemed to have been holding off, or holding back, out of fear.
I felt this request of mine, that night, like a religious experience. -I truly did and that’s when everything changed.
I was offering myself up. In that moment I became aware of the illusion of comfort and safety and I knew that I needed to dive into new experiences. I was terrified, but I gave in. Too much was at stake if I didn’t. I’m talking about my usefulness as an artist and my time as a thinking, feeling and caring human being.
Like that beautiful scene in Rocky Horror Picture Show where Frank-N-Furter sings, “Be it, don’t dream it…” It was time.
What followed were the beginnings of my independent life, and a lot of it was weird. So weird, and not truly independent but it was fuel. It was data. I got a lot wrong and I got a lot right. I was still very afraid and I didn't know how to share as an artist and as a person. Eventually things got even weirder and eventually, wondrous. I "took the red pill," as they say. That’s when I stopped being afraid.
In time I learned how to organize that wonder. I realized that I could be quite useful; that I could and should use my abilities and interests in order to help others. I learned there are many different ways to do so. I also learned how to settle myself and I sorted out my own belief system/spiritual life that I now rely deeply upon.
Eventually, I dipped my toes back into the world I was born into, when I lived in that trailer; before that fateful night in front of my VCR. After all that I had been through, it was an adventure to do what people and memes now call “adulting." I've only really been doing it for like, five years now.
So for the past five years I've been tangling myself up in the web that makes people believe they are living well if they work on their credit score and keep up with advancements in technology and decorate their house like a Pottery Barn showroom (well, I’ve not gone that far, thank god, but I’m trying to make a point). What I'm trying to say is that I've been back in The Matrix.
I now make my payments on time. I commute to work with all the others like me. I've made peace with my being a drone; useful to a greater system. I value my work life but the good news is that I'm most certainly still a weirdo.
I’ve done things to keep myself uncomfortable, in order to keep myself from settling in, so that I can feel as much like a tourist within it. I'm not suffering, to say the least. I'm talking about things like living in the middle of Hollywood when I no longer care for the Hollywood lifestyle and using public transportation when I have a car–
The irony is that my way of keeping myself uncomfortable has led me to being deep within the world of service to our system and deep within the world of my ego. I am choosing to perceive my existence in this way. I have lost my wonder and the knowledge that there is a system of order out there that feeds off of this occurring makes me very sad.
(My recent feelings are pretty much all laid out in David Foster Wallace's well-known speech, This is Water.)
It became very clear recently that I had fallen into the illusion of comfort, rest and safety so I did it again. I said, “Too much is at stake, again. I’m ready. Bring it on.” And it worked. Life brought it on. Like a switch. It’s so odd.
I’m a quarter of a century older, this time around, so I surrendered with a bit of terror because I have experienced life and I know more about suffering. I'm aware now that "bring it on" affects and involves others. That being said, my life experience is something I can rely on. I can handle it.
Two examples of photos from my life, posted online.
One of my students ran up to me the other day. He had found/been looking at photos I’ve posted over the years on social media; art events I’ve been a part of, trips I’ve been on, projects I've worked on, readings I've given, etc... and he said, “Wow, you've lived an adventurous life. I had no idea!” I responded defensively, “Yes, and I’m still living one!”
The fact that he viewed my past as adventurous (as opposed to my present) may have to do with his preconceived notion of what it means to be a teacher, however it is also likely that he saw me as the person I have been lately, while I've been "comfortable."
As a teacher I may be delusional but I want my students to be as free as possible from that comfortable web; that system that has the capacity to force us into submission and keep us there, so I'm glad he was exposed to my "adventurous" life because I'm an example of adulthood. (That last part just made me laugh out loud.) I want them to be free and I also want them to not fear the construct we can’t help but dip our toes into as we make our way around this giant floating ball in space.
Speaking of planetary revolutions, it's a new year for me. It's also a new moon. I believe it's a time for asking for what we want to bring into our lives and so I wrote all of this as a way to do so. With Samhain it's a time to ask for help from our ancestors, from nature. The end of summer. Winter begins.
PS Here’s an actual update. I have a painting (a portrait) in a show opening on November 10th in downtown Los Angeles (see image to the left for details). Also, I’ve lowered the price of my e-book, The Boogie Book. It now costs only $1.99 and I read the book live and it's now on YouTube. Other than that I’ve been very busy teaching art and writing to teenagers. Thanks very much for reading.
My name is Linda Lay and I'm an artist, a writer and a teacher.