The Life Experiment

Sadly, I did not have any blinding visions in the sweat
lodge. Surprisingly, I wasn’t as hungry or thirsty as I’d feared I’d be. And
naturally, I was really, really hot.
It was like a bikram yoga room, inside a tent – or a sauna
the size of an igloo. It was actually pretty cool – forgive the word in this
context. And the hardest part was just trying to suck some oxygen out of the
steamy air at a few moments when the water was poured heavily onto the 28
heated rocks in the center of the wooden, covered structure. So, you open your
mouth for a few moments, trying to gasp what you can, and then it settles.
Luckily the woman running it generously allowed us some “break” time between
the “prayer rounds” when the little hobbit door was opened (for more rocks to be
brought in).
All in all, it was both highly satisfying, and a little
anticlimactic, for all that I’d expected in my head. I loved the ritual of it –
I like rituals, I find them kind of calming and grounding – there wasn’t any
dancing or howling or anything. There was some singing, and a drum for that
part, and then there was us, 8 of us, going around in the lodge saying some
prayers outloud. And that was it. There was some tobacco burning, and some prayer ties – little bundles of tobacco we’d put our prayers in tied together with string which we later burned, and some
walking around the lodge 4 times to signify the 4 days following the lodge when
it’s still “working,” – so, I’m still secretly hoping for some baptism
experience in the next few days, sight given to the blind. But all in all, it
was generally pretty cool, interesting, fun, and I didn’t puke or cry the Ugly
Cries, yet. I cried a little bit as we went around in prayer, and so maybe some
things are released – maybe not. But, gosh darnit, I’m not a saint – have not
been gifted the blueprints for the Kremlin – nor the answer to where atoms go
in quantum physics when they disappear and reappear elsewhere.
But, I suppose that’s alright. This human experience is
alright as far as it goes. And it goes pretty well, I should say. We’ll see –
like my retreat in January, several things took a while to settle for months
after, still marinating into my bones and shifting me slowly – so I imagine
this may be the same. Who knows.
In other news.
Hm. Well, Oh! I could tell you about the Workshop I hosted
on Saturday at school!
7 – SEVEN – whole people showed up! It was a great size
group – a few people who’d only heard about it through the internet whom I’d
never met before, and a few good friends I did know.
It went really well. There were a few scrambling minutes
beforehand about a missing hot water dispenser for the tea, but it worked out
just fine.
I was surprised, but not shocked, to see some things that
came up and came out for me – for example, in response to the open ended
journal question at the beginning, “The last time I felt creative ____” … well,
I wrote about a time almost a year ago, when I was doing a painting in my
kitchen for the art show last June.
I was surprised that that’s what came up – obviously, I’ve
been doing hell of creative shit for the last year, with my thesis and
performance poetry stuff – and of course, with the acting and singing auditions
– I even took a singing class! But… that’s what came to mind.
Putzing with this painting. It took me a really long time –
or longer than others had – to do, because I was experimenting. Paint, wait a day,
wipe it off leaving a pigmented residue (it was oil), paint some more, wipe, mix more color, thin more color – it
was marvelous: frustrating and thrilling and open. It was a total experiment, but I knew where I wanted to go with
it – and I got there (or enough that no one else knew that I didn’t quite!).
I took painting a little bit earlier this year, in the
beginning of the semester, but dropped because it wasn’t fun – I wasn’t having
fun, I didn’t feel like I was being allowed to be explorative – that was my
interpretation, and it was good for me at the time to drop – I’m still glad I
didn’t have that on my plate along with everything else.
But I have a few paintings that have been in my mind’s eye
for a few months now, and I know they want out.
At the end of Saturday’s workshop, I asked each of us to light a
little tea light candle, and make a statement of commitment to one thing we can
do for our self-care, creativity, or grounding that week. … I said, “I commit
to painting in the studio for at least three hours.”
I still have keys to the painting studio at school, as unofficially
approved by the painting instructor, and I have about a week and a half before
I have to return them. I guess I have some experimenting to do. 

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