Sunday, November 7, 2010

THE GENTLE ART OF WRESTLING

"The sutra literature is a genre in which teachings are expressed in abbreviated and mnemonic form which need to be made our own by wrestling with them, standing under them and being open to their profundity."
(This is still the Introduction to Ravindra's Wisdom of Patanjali's Sutras. We  are going slowly here.)

I was struck here by the idea of wrestling, of an ongoing struggle.


1. wrestle - combat to overcome an opposing tendency or force;
2. wrestle - engage in deep thought, consideration, or debate; deliberatemootdebateconsiderturn over - think about carefully; weigh; 
3. wrestle - to move in a twisting or contorted motion, (especially when struggling); 



Those all work.
I am not in the slightest a Biblical person. I have never read nor studied it. Any Bible stories I know must have just seeped in from general Western civilization. (Although now that I think about it, I did go to Vacation Bible School for awhile. Other than cutting out stuff and competing to get gold stars put next to my personal cowgirl, I do not remember a thing.)

For some years now, the story of Jacob wrestling the angel has been my mental metaphor for my life. (I probably read this in one of those Bible series that used to get left around doctor's waiting room. Glad I didn't latch on the Goofus and Gallant so forcefully.) I have had a couple of dreams about it over the years. And there are particular times of struggle that I feel I am searching for a blessing.

Yes, wrestling with things, sutras, and poems, and quotes, and art, and myself.

A few weeks ago, when I was feeling fairly rotten, I went to see an exhibit of the American artist Charles Burchfield. I ran down to the Whitney Museum cafe (such as it was, and it wasn't much) to scribble this out

"I had a ... maybe transcendent moment  — hard to use those kinds of words once you are out of them. Thinking about the Biblical image I most relate to: Jacob wrestling the angel for the blessing. And I thought how I wrestle with the angel of creativity for some blessing, for some ability to see and own the creative process — to have some sign or word or knowledge about how to proceed, how to be plugged into a current that will both free me and move me to work and to see. I don't know how to get from here to there. That is quite an admission or something from someone who specializes in understanding process, at least media production process. I understand, relatively, the external process but not the internal process. It's as if the dots inside of me can't connect or coalesce. Even to take care of myself or to be motivated to look for work or something. Yet, in the outside world, I can predict and see things, see very often how they will play out - but not for me.
In some ways another phrase, I feel as if I don't know how to live. Maybe that's a process I don't understand. Sometimes I'm not "in myself" enough to pass for someone living.
Is that strange?
I wear the uniform, the meat suit, of a live person, but it doesn't quite connect.
Is that because on some level I felt like a slave, or at least a paid subservient most of my work life.
So often, I didn't even understand the compromises I was making along the way. Well, I suppose no one does.
I can see the appeal of a lobotomy in a way, or something to take off the pressure between my eyes.
I wish I could be made whole.
I need to go to a creative revival meeting. To get touched and moved by the spirit and to move confidently in the expectation that I am on the path to righteous creatvity.
An art breather. And some tea. And some contemplation."

And then I went to Ojai, and I could begin to see the way to connect the dots.

 (Not to give away the whole story, but I have an inkling that I am Jacob AND the angel.)

1 comment:

  1. You are on the pathway to "write"-eous creativity.

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