generosity · healing · letting go · painting · recovery · relationships

The language of letting go.

Two things occur to me about
this at the moment, situations that have come up. The first is that I’m
creating holiday cards to send out to friends and family. The second is that my
best friend from the east coast texted me last night to say that her childhood
home had been bulldozed.
To the first, I’ve stalled a little on the cards, partly
because of the insanity of my self-imposed schedule (even with the simplified
design of the card I’ve chosen to do for everyone, it’ll take 30 minutes, times
like 20 cards… = ten hours; and my list has more like 40 people on it!). And
partly stalled out because of the process around sending them, these handmade
items, out into the world. Some people may have no problem with this, and
consider it all a labor of love, but it’s nudged into a larger thing for me.
The cards will be okay, mainly because they’re all the same,
because they’re being made with the intention of being sent out. But earlier
this year, I hosted an art show with a group of my friends, and I sold a
painting. I didn’t actually think anything would sell and was delighted when
someone inquired, but also felt a sharp pang of “oh fuck”. The painting that
sold was sort of a companion piece, one was called “The Rebound”, the other, created
months later, was called “Safety or Before the Fall”. The first showed an empty
mussed up bed by candlelight, with a naked girl tucked into a corner on a chair
facing the bed, all you see are her legs wrapped up around her.
The second painting was of a woman’s hand resting on a man’s bare chest in sort of sepia-like colors, intended to connote a memory. The view most women will know instantly,
it’s the view of cuddling, the view of sleeping next to someone, to me, it was the
view of safety. That time in your day, whatever time of day it is you are
horizontal with your lover, and for those moments, nothing is wrong. You watch
your hand rise and fall with his breathing, you play with whatever strands of
chest hair, or trace lightly on the skin. It’s a moment of zen for me. Of “all
is right with the world.”
Now, of course, the second part of the title “Before the
Fall” speaks to the impermanence of that moment. Which led to “The Rebound.”
Obviously, these paintings are intensely personal and moments of my own life
which I created with my greatest ability to offer the honesty and vulnerability
of each of these moments. They were a part of me; a part of my past; and a part
of what will always hold a place in my memory and my heart.
So a woman wanted to buy “Safety.” And because it was my first
art show, and I was so excited to have an offer at all, and I didn’t know what
an appropriate amount was for it, I sold it. (The Rebound I marked as “not for
sale,” as that one, at least I knew was much too close a moment to let go of.)
Months later, I’m at an art show of a friend of mine who
makes very spiritual paintings, each radiating a kind of passion, divinity, and
connection. They are little portraits of love, and sometimes pain. And perhaps,
often both. I asked her how she feels able to let go of her paintings when
they’re obviously crafted with so much love and care. She said, firstly she
prices them in a way in which she doesn’t feel “sold short”, in a way which she
feels she wouldn’t “miss” them. (Not greedy, but not lamenting, like I am/was.)
Secondly, she said with a specific set of her work, she did a process around
letting go of each of them, in order to send them out into the Universe.
I didn’t do either of these with “Safety,” and I regret it.
Were it a higher price, I still don’t know if I would have liked to have sold
it yet. As such a fledgling artist, there’s still also a place in me in which
every piece I make is SO precious because I don’t know if I’ll have it in me to
do it again, and also, I am still sometimes astounded and proud of the work and
don’t want to let it go.
Earlier this year, I made a portrait of a friend of mine
that was very specifically for him, of him, of a San Francisco moment, and I
had no trouble giving that away to him. It was a gift for a major milestone for
him, and I wanted to honor that. And again, with the cards, knowing their
intention is to go out into the Universe to people whom I love, that is easier.
It’s these more amorphous recipients who I have trouble with.
Granted, I’m not in any art shows right now, “The Rebound”
sits in my closet, but I’ll be taking an advanced oil painting class in the
spring and imagine some more work will come out of that/be inspired by that
I don’t know what all of this means in my scheme of things,
the ability to let go of my creations, but paintings have been different than
poems, or even performances. A poem, I own, I wrote, I know that moment, and I
have a document. Go ahead, read it, hear it, buy my chapbook 😉 Performances?
They only work because of you. A
performance, to me, is absolutely the love child of performer and audience, be
that performing theater or music. That’s part of the thrill of it to me, that
each night, each performance is different. It’s a thrilling moment of
I would like to learn how to set my paintings in a way where
they can go off to others with a sense of completion and satisfaction, even
joy, not with a sense of loss.
Lastly, I think having better documentation of my work than
my cell phone photos could help me as well 😉
To the second item of letting go, my friend’s house – I’m
out of time and room in this blog, but for now, a moment of honoring for that
house, the haven it was for me, the home it was for her, and the memories we
still get to share, 30 years later. Amen. 

 Safety or Before the Fall (June 2011)

The Rebound (March 2011)

One thought on “The language of letting go.

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