We all are our own canvas

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~ Dedicated to beautiful and aetheric Zina Nicole Lahr, thank you for being here…  (*13/02/1990 †20/11/2013)

It is a couple of months ago since I found out who was Zina Nicole Lahr. After discovering who she was I went through a period of intense exploration of her works and writings and I felt like there is some sort of hidden message, craftily, but delicately encrypted, written just for me. There was something familiar in almost every single word she has written (some sentences made me stop and just breathe for a while), it was as if I recognised the very essence of life so close to mine in each and one of them. It wasn’t about what she was doing, or the way she was doing it, it was why she was doing it. And her self diagnosis of Creative Compulsive Disorder was just hilarious. How many times have you heard about someone making up a new name for his own condition? Now if that’s not great storytelling than I don’t know what is. 

The force behind her creativity seemed to be the same that has been at the beginning of everything. (I am not a religious person, although I respect almost every single religion without a harsh judgment (because who am I to judge anyway?). But I find it difficult to completely follow any of them. What I however firmly believe in, is The Creator. It is simply unimaginable to me that I, a conscious being, would have come here as a mere result of a long chain of unconscious accidents. It is like in Jim Holt’s book, I cannot imagine how something could have come out of nothing. And although this something at the very beginning of everything is not much more imaginable than nothing, I have found the concept of an absolute consciousness and creativity being the reason why the world(s) exists more believable.) And it’s this simple belief through which I immediately felt attracted to Zina. Her way of feeling here, in body, to which she almost always referred to as a vessel, her testimony of absolute necessity to create to escape the heaviness of her body simply mesmerised me.

I avoided calling it love, because it felt confusing, but every other word was falling short of describing it so I decided to accept that what I felt towards her was love. I think that love has got nothing to do with being attracted physically to someone, or something, but instead, it is all about recognising something otherworldly familiar in a person, or an action. It’s like remembering. And it is creative… I think you’re in love when you want to make things (happen)…

We’re all just walking each other home.
~ Ram Dass

Although I think I can be quite creative in a few areas, it was her writing which I immediately fell in love with and without trying to replicate any of it, I somehow felt called to write my soul out in the similar way she did. I think it was the first time in a very long time that I realised how important and sacred it is to be authentic. And that, as it was Zina’s case, we each should be our own canvas. We are here to be our own masterpieces. And we are here to witness beauty, in everything. Because if each of us would become his own canvas, this Earth would become one big gallery. (To some enlightened masters it already is.)

Without art, the Earth is just Eh…
~ unknown

I am fully aware of the fact that there are so many blogs and pages on the internet these days, that the best I can hope for is a few trusty readers, but that’s probably all I need. At this point I am not aiming to achieve anything more. This is my stomping ground. My little empire. My gallery. I don’t want to pathetically copycat Zina, but I almost feel like I want to diagnose myself with Writing Compulsive Disorder. I somehow have to write. It might not be to everyone’s liking, but nothing ever is to everyone’s liking. I would dare to think that no great writer was writing to gain fame, or any perishable riches. It is exactly as an amazing writer Rainer Maria Rilke puts it in his first letter to a young poet:

Paris
February 17, 1903
Dear Sir,

     Your letter arrived just a few days ago. I want to thank you for the great confidence you have placed in me. That is all I can do. I cannot discuss your verses; for any attempt at criticism would be foreign to me. Nothing touches a work of art so little as words of criticism: they always result in more or less fortunate misunderstandings. Things aren’t all so tangible and sayable as people would usually have us believe; most experiences are unsayable, they happen in a space that no word has ever entered, and more unsay able than all other things are works of art, those mysterious existences, whose life endures beside our own small, transitory life.

     With this note as a preface, may I just tell you that your verses have no style of their own, although they do have silent and hidden beginnings of something personal. I feel this most clearly in the last poem, “My Soul.” There, some thing of your own is trying to become word and melody. And in the lovely poem “To Leopardi” a kind of kinship with that great, solitary figure does perhaps appear. Nevertheless, the poems are not yet anything in themselves, not yet any thing independent, even the last one and the one to Leopardi. Your kind letter, which accompanied them managed to make clear to me various faults that I felt in reading your verses, though I am not able to name them specifically.

     You ask whether your verses are any good. You ask me. You have asked others before this. You send them to magazines. You compare them with other poems, and you are upset when certain editors reject your work. Now (since you have said you want my advice) I beg you to stop doing that sort of thing. You are looking outside, and that is what you should most avoid right now. No one can advise or help you – no one. There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must”, then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse. Then come close to Nature. Then, as if no one had ever tried before, try to say what you see and feel and love and lose. Don’t write love poems; avoid those forms that are too facile and ordinary: they are the hardest to work with, and it takes a great, fully ripened power to create something individual where good, even glorious, traditions exist in abundance. So rescue yourself from these general themes and write about what your everyday life offers you; describe your sorrows and desires, the thoughts that pass through your mind and your belief in some kind of beauty Describe all these with heartfelt, silent, humble sincerity and, when you express yourself, use the Things around you, the images from your dreams, and the objects that you remember. If your everyday life seems poor, don’t blame it; blame yourself; admit to yourself that you are not enough of a poet to call forth its riches; because for the creator there is no poverty and no poor, indifferent place. And even if you found yourself in some prison, whose walls let in none of the world’s sound – wouldn’t you still have your childhood, that jewel beyond all price, that treasure house of memories? Turn your attention to it. Try to raise up the sunken feelings of this enormous past; your personality will grow stronger, your solitude will expand and become a place where you can live in the twilight, where the noise of other people passes by, far in the distance. And if out of , this turning within, out of this immersion in your own world, poems come, then you will not think of asking anyone whether they are good or not. Nor will you try to interest magazines in these works: for you will see them as your dear natural possession, a piece of your life, a voice from it. A work of art is good if it has arisen out of necessity. That is the only way one can judge it. So, dear Sir, I can’t give you any advice but this: to go into yourself and see how deep the place is from which your life flows; at its source you will find the answer to, the question of whether you must create. Accept that answer, just as it is given to you, without trying to interpret it. Perhaps you will discover that you are called to be an artist. Then take that destiny upon yourself, and bear it, its burden and its greatness, without ever asking what reward might come from outside. For the creator must be a world for himself and must find everything in himself and in Nature, to whom his whole life is devoted.

     But after this descent into yourself and into your solitude, perhaps you will have to renounce becoming a poet (if, as I have said, one feels one could live without writing, then one shouldn’t write at all). Nevertheless, even then, this self searching that I ask of you will not have been for nothing. Your life will still find its own paths from there, and that they may be good, rich, and wide is what I wish for you, more than I can say.

     What else can I tell you? It seems to me that everything has its proper emphasis; and finally I want to add just one more bit of advice: to keep growing, silently and earnestly, through your whole development; you couldn’t disturb it any more violently than by looking outside and waiting for outside answers to questions that only your innermost feeling, in your quietest hour, can perhaps answer.

     It was a pleasure for me to find in your letter the name of Professor Horacek; I have great reverence for that kind, learned man, and a gratitude that has lasted through the years. Will you please tell him how I feel; it is very good of him to still think of me, and I appreciate it.

     The poem that you entrusted me with, I am sending back to you. And I thank you once more for your questions and sincere trust, of which, by answering as honestly as I can, I have tried to make myself a little worthier than I, as a stranger, really am.

Yours very truly,

Rainer Maria Rilke

PS: I was thinking of inserting links to Zina’s blogs and some other pages at the end of this post, but I decided to let you explore her beautiful personality (if you want to) through your own personal journey like I did. Sometimes (like today), I just type her name in Google and I click on any interesting result that’s brought up, or I just have a look at one of her blogs (sadly I just discovered her normallyodd.com page is awaiting renewal, or deletion and I know which if the two it’s going to be…). I understand that we live in the times when people want to know things about others and I am ok with that (I’m no different), but sometimes I think that the vast majority of those in who’s lives are people interested is not worth half of the publicity they get. And although I am not a fan of any massively popular celebrity, or a public figure (to the content that would classify me as one), I have my favourite people, writers, bloggers, musicians (you probably haven’t heard of them, I try to connect with the lesser tribes). But from all of them, writers are my most favourite. As much as I can appreciate a beautiful painting, or a photograph, I found the pictures, that a great storytelling creates in my mind, much more intriguing. So this post is also a kind of thank you message to any person who’s writing has affected and inspired me. My dream is to say this thank you in person to you. Sadly, I will not be able to say it to Zina… I’m still sad about that…

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