Friday, December 27, 2013

Under Construction--& jazzed about it

in honor of the upcoming new year
a photo booth version of me as Janus,
the god with 2 faces who can see
ahead & behind...

Weather permitted! All 4 of us kids & all the spouses & all the grandkids but 6 (3 married couples) were there. With Kathryn, that made 16 for sitdown dinner. A fine number. Not quite as many as usual (I’m not joking!) but a fine number.

A while back I had a vivid dream. I was in an elevator, going down, all dressed up with nice shoes. I intended to get out at the main lobby level & go out, but I got out in the basement instead. The area was under construction & dark & I was threading through, calling to see if someone could guide me. A worker showed me to an outside door, to an area that was also under construction with busy machines & workers moving things around. He told me which way to go, but said I should hurry because things were shifting & that way wouldn’t necessarily be open longer. I got through there & ended up on a road, not yet paved, but graded as smooth as glass. The edges were freshly & precisely carved, with no vegetation yet.

At that point I woke up & immediately found a meaning: I’d gone into my own ever & always under construction zone, rather than just staying on the surface where things look complete & finished. It made a big impact on me, especially when someone around me did something—or didn’t do something—that would have otherwise irritated me. They’re just under construction, I’d think. Even if I did succumb to irritation, I’d give myself a break: I’m just under construction. What a lovely thought to be able to apply to any situation.

I also realized that even things that look static—a pristine hotel lobby or a filthy ramshackle whatever—require constant construction. Everything is always changing, in every moment, & it takes a lot of effort to keep them the same. Try to keep another person from changing. To do so, you’d have to remain exactly the same. It isn’t possible, or desirable. Give it up. Enjoy the under construction. When you recognize it’s always going on, you can start directing the workers & machinery to move the job—it’ll never be done—in your desired directions.

This is a really good thought at the ending of one year, the beginning of another. Many of us take stock around new year: what we’ve done, what we haven’t, what desires remain & which have changed, what we’d like to accomplish. Knowing that it’s all under construction, always, can take some of the pressure off. It also gives me a sense of support, having seen all those workers & machines busy on my behalf. I’m not in this alone. I don’t even have to know how to accomplish everything I want. I don’t even have to want it all: some of it will just show up, a byproduct of subconscious desires & the fairies of the universe, many of them wearing hardhats, with grease under their fingernails.

That said, I’m pleased with my own elbow grease this year. I’ve set several great projects in motion & have engineered my working space (aka “bedroom”) to allow them to proceed smoothly. This involved what I’m calling a “room tsunami.”

I have my bed set at a diagonal, with a secret little triangular room behind the headboard, one side open as a narrow doorway. There were a couple folding bookshelves in it, with “art supplies” on them, plus “things that don’t know where else they want to be.” That in itself wouldn’t have been too bad, but I was also prone to chucking things onto the (limited) floor space there, which meant that none of it was accessible. Not a very effective use of a secret room.

One of the things I’ve been wanting to do—& not doing—was using the “art supplies” I’ve been picking up from gutters & parking lots & sidewalks for assemblage. This was cluttering up my drafting table, when I did start a project, which then prevented painting. So, I took everything out of the secret room, put the bookshelves together facing each other (they have open backs, so I can still put things on the resulting doubled surfaces) & put a piece of wood on top, so I now have an assemblage surface that I can stand at. I’ve already completed my first project from the secret studio. No, the Secret Studio. It deserves capital letters. Yay!

I sorted through everything I’d taken out & did a bunch of recycling & re-org. Yes, some of the things I’ve picked up or saved are true treasures, but some just require drinking another bottle of a particular kind of juice. If I need that container for a little assemble figured to peek out of, I know where to get it.

A room tsunami takes a while, & looks far worse for the duration, but I recommend it.

Blog alternative: Take a moment to celebrate being (ever & always) under construction.