July 19, 2017

Daily Practice

Writing in the half-waking, early morning moments before coffee blessedly begins to clear the sleepy befuddledness from my mind is a new habit I aim to keep. Sometimes what pours forth is pure drivel, anything to keep the pen moving and the ritual alive. Other times, though, it's pure gold. Rich ideas, connections, insights, questions that just don't have the opportunity to surface during the regular noise of the day. In that magical limbo of not fully awake, within the quiet stillness of the early morning, there is nothing to hinder wandering thoughts. The censor of consciousness still slumbers, unable to impede anything - no matter how nebulous, unformed or seemingly nonsensical - from making its way onto the page.

One such recent convoluted train of thought in my notebook surprised me. I was thinking about my efforts to be more open versus the necessity of secrecy in protecting ideas that aren't fully formed. Holding the burgeoning ideas close, to nurture them, to allow them to marinate, to feed and water them, to allow them time and room to grow, before sharing them. This led me to visualize pregnancy and birth. And BOOM! I realized that I have never associated the regular metaphors for describing the formation of an idea - a fertile mind, fertilize thoughts, plant an idea, grow an idea, gestation period of an idea, the birth of an idea - with the actual biological process of fertilization, implantation, gestation, or birth. Shocking. And fascinating.

I am hyper-aware of masculine metaphors and masculine terminology used to describe everything from expertise (mastery, masterpiece, old Masters) to bravery and daring (takes balls, ballsy). I find it interesting that the same awareness, in me, did not extend to feminine metaphors. And I dwell in this stuff daily. Both by default as a woman and by choice with my art practice and research.

I wonder if it is, in part, because Western culture, specifically American culture, does not value the feminine, women's (naturally occurring) bodies, nor the feminine process of creation. They (we) legislate it, medicalize it, restrict it, denigrate it, insult it, violate it, make a profit off it, attempt to control it, and fear it. I consciously choose to make the effort not to absorb the negativity, not to fall under the influence of marketing and selling. But, perhaps, I did absorb some of the shaming techniques. Shame that created distance or disconnection from the potential of my own body to create. From all animals and insects to create. Disconnection that prevented me from recognizing the rich metaphors of creation that are a celebration of uniquely feminine power.

And perhaps my blind spot was due in part to focusing on the negative rather than the positive. Going back to my earliest sketchbooks through to this moment, I am a maker of lists. I list words, metaphors, idioms. These lists are mostly focused on the double standards surrounding heterosexual male and female sexuality and sexual appetites. The ridiculous stud/slut dichotomy. Even just typing this now is causing my blood pressure to rise. Hence the blind spot. The positive and celebratory female metaphors can't cross that red film of anger.

Within my art practice, I am shifting away from indignantly exploring patriarchal double standards of gender and sexuality and moving towards a veneration of the feminine. Which is possibly why I was open to the revelation above. Whatever the reasons, I am grateful that I've now opened my eyes and mind to the positive metaphors and the amazing, powerful processes they reference.

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