Being given the opportunity to write a monthly column for Home & Realty magazine has been quite a blessing in disguise. Each month I have to come up with an interesting topic to write about, and at first I made the effort to tie my writing into the idea of Real Estate and Homes, as this is of course Home & Realty Magazine, but soon the inspiration was waning and as I began to feel boxed in I almost gave up on my column. I talked it through with the editor Bruce Bryant and we decided that I had enough to say and enough of a voice to speak from so that I could just write about whatever I wanted. The freedom was frightening. But also enlightening. Now I find myself pondering a subject or a concept throughout the month leading up to the actual writing process, and then when I finally sit down to write, the words begin flowing from me just like a painting flows from my brush. When the heart is open, the mind lets go, and the creative juices begin to erupt from within. This is when the best creation occurs, from the depths of the soul.
Recently I’ve been pondering the idea of the image of Buddha and the popularity of Buddhism in our world today and throughout history. It’s incredible to imagine that this sage has affected so many lives and cultures across the globe and still today remains popular in art, home decor, and throughout all realms of society. I knew I wanted to paint Buddha and feel his soul and the soul of his teachings. As I my brush created the lovely pillows of his cheeks and mysterious and all knowing smile upon his lips I felt I would learn Buddha from within. While searching for Buddha images I studied his teachings, watched documentaries about his life and existence, and spent hours searching google and pinterest for anything Buddha related. I began to find so many helpful words, concepts and teachings. I began to feel my heart was growing…as my studies continued I found I was stuck on one concept, his idea that “all that we have is this very moment”, and that “our possessions are meaningless compared to the power of our love”.
For many years I’ve been obsessed with the idea of waste in society. Wastefulness in all its forms, food, trash, consideration, excess, addiction. I found the idea of the wasting of food to be something that kept me up at night. How could so many starve while so many others throughout the world waste food. How could we live in such dichotomy? For my column this month my focus turns to the waste of “things”. As Buddha would say, “There is no destination, there is only the quality of the moment.” In our quest for materialism and need for more, more, more, we stop living in this moment and loving in this moment and focus upon a world where “more” is better”.
Take a moment to go back in time with me….. Imagine if a caveman from around 300,000 years ago were to come upon a glass bottle with a plastic screw cap with the words “Voss” on it? To us it would only be a bottle of Voss Water, but just imagine the pure awe he might experience looking upon that bottle and seeing it as a kind of a god, the light sparkling across the glass creating prisms inside of his cave as the sun set, the cap of the bottle being used as the first rudimentary cup. He and is fellow cave dwellers might christen that glass bottle as a leader, might hold ceremonies to honor it, might copy the words Voss Water all over the cave. That one bottle might be so revered and cherished… if it broke perhaps the clan might go into a mourning, they would possibly mend it with bison innards and twine made from their own hair, doing anything to preserve its perceived power. Today we consider it nothing important, we consider nothing sacred. We throw it in the trash-not even the recycle bin usually-and we just let it become buried by mounds and mounds of other such bottles and trash. If we are considerate enough to make sure it finds its way into a recycling bin, it will go on to a long and extensive life in the recycling plant, using up precious resources and creating more airborne toxins as it enters into its new life as a new and unimportant object to be used and thrown away again. Where did we go so awry and lose the value of “things”?
Every year each one of us produces around 1500 pounds of trash. Can you imagine where all of that is going? Landfills and recycling. Both are so hazardous to our environment!And lets look at the sociological implications of the wasteful human of today. Do you believe we consider relationships as unimportant as objects which are used once and then become trash? The divorce rates in America would say we do. Social media has given us a kind of social ADD where every minute we are throwing out ideas, feelings, emotions and on to the next. We are simply wasteful of life. When is the last time you simply stopped and smelled a rose? Took a calm moment to admire the beauty of your blessed existence? No matter how hard life can be there is always beauty and love to be found somewhere in your daily existence. Buddha says “Your actions are your only true belongings”. Imagine if that were the truth of today and we placed less importance on materialism, and more importance on “being”: being kind, being thoughtful, being in the moment, being our best self. If there were less of an importance placed upon “things”; the “having” of things, the “getting” of things, the “giving” of things…. can you imagine what a greater world we would live within?
As an artist, I make “things”. I create paintings on canvas and paper and also sculptures out of clay and stone. Luckily most of what I create has shelf life of a century or even many more. As with the many artists who came before me out canvas and paint are able to last hundreds and hundreds of years. But as a human being I’m starting to truly become aware of needing less things, using less, and aquiring less. I’ve decided to create a new series of art using recycled products, mainly cardboard, to reduce my “carbon footprint” on our beautiful earth.I’ve also started to re-use as many plastic bottles and containers as possible…. shop at farmers markets, reuse shopping bags, make sure not to waste any food, always recycle no matter what, give more of myself and my own gifts to the world and less of physical gifts when gifts are expected.
I encourage you all to make whatever tiny effort you can make in this world, as Buddha would say, to focus more upon action than things. Every time you look upon something disposable, imagine you’re that caveman seeing it for the first time, and think about what you can do to reuse this object or perhaps avoid buying it in the first place. Lets all be less wasteful and more appreciative. Let’s Save our beautiful Planet. Let’s learn to “Love, without desire to Possess”.