This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be cleaning you out
For some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from the beyond.
My friend Lucie Lynch posted this Rumi poem on her facebook page this morning and since it is exactly what I like to express here, I just pass it on.
Success, failure, health and illness, accidents, bad or good economy; it is all part of our existence as human beings and has all been part of my life this year. Early in the year I went through a 3 week class to be able to work as a substitute teacher in Oahu’s public education system and for the private schools as well. I thought that I would be working by March, but it didn’t happen until the beginning of the new school year in August. Still, I have worked only one single week full time, some 2 or 3 days some even less. It is probably ok this way, since I am not sure if I could have handled more days. I have worked with 2nd graders all the way to high school seniors in Waimanalo, Kailua and Kaneohe. Right now the 2nd graders are my favorites. I have worked in art, English, math, science and PE (physical education) and also Special Ed. As a substitute teacher I experience the public education system from the underbelly, so to speak. I have met kids from heartbreaking backgrounds, a family with 10 kids, who live on the beach, I have met teenagers who read and write like 4th graders, and have no motivation whatsoever in school, but dream that they will become professional body boarders, and I have spend the last day of school with 6 special ed kids that ranged from completely non verbal, with severest bodily and mental malfunctions to a kid that knew all large and medium cities in Europe and their location in relation to the next boarder and when they were bombed during WWII. I have also met well adjusted students who are a pleasure to talk to and who seem to move with ease through a system that seems beyond repair. I try not to judge what I experience, which is sometimes very difficult, especially when faced with a bratty kid, who’s only intend seems to be to make my life miserable.
It had been my intention to get back into painting, and to collaborate with others as much as possible. I invited Mike Nice to create a large Ganesh woodcut together and we did. My band Alice Neel played a few gigs culminating in a fun show last Saturday and we are in the middle of recording 3 songs. I also created a wood cut series of the Sri Yantra, and a second edition with the great help of my assistant Jenny, who is visiting from Hamburg, which was part of a flurry of art happenings at the end of the year. Like last year, when I had the opportunity to teach printmaking in New York city, the end of the year brought home some fruits of my labor. I sold 17 prints of the second yantra edition, my track racers print won a price in a show in Boulder, CO, I was invited to print 60 postcards for the Hawaii Arts Alliance, I taught a yoga workshop at Yoga Hawaii and finally my biggest painting sold. Alas, I never got really into painting. I did create a couple of small paintings, but I never could establish the daily practice of painting again.
Sitting in the dark and practicing pranayama and meditation and doing asanas, the physical part of the 8 limbs of yoga, that, I did do on a daily basis. It is what keeps me together and allows me to continually evolve, at least that’s what I believe. You’ll be the judge. I also went through some depressing days and weeks, a few month of emotional turmoil culminating in a serious shoulder injury and fortunately a period of healing and realignment. I wouldn’t be here now without the help of some of my amazing friends. You know who you are and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I continuously ask my self: Who am I? And: Who is asking the question?
Am I an artist, a teacher, a musician, a yogi, an anarchist, bohemian Buddhist monk? The eminent Herbie Hancock, who practices Nichiren Buddhism, like Wayne Shorter and other jazz musicians of his generation since the early 1970’s, puts it this way: ” I realized that if I perceive myself as a musician, somehow there’s an invisible barrier between myself and people who aren’t musicians. But if I define myself as a human being, all the barriers disappear.”
Now, what does it exactly mean to be a human being? This is the task of our lives to find out and to present the result that we come up with as truthfully as possible at any moment.
A few years ago a friend asked me for some words of wisdom for the new year. Here is this years expanded version. I am responsible for my experiences (stop blaming everything and everybody else including myself). Everything that happens to me has several dimensions, among them emotional as well as spiritual ones. If I want change I have to work on all the different levels. Without clearing up my stuck emotions, I am doomed to repeat my negative patterns. Ultimately, all the solutions are on the spiritual realm. I wish everybody great holidays, the best 2014 and much Aloha!