I never knew how much deliberation and care would go into hanging a picture. My friend had given a lovely chalk and pencil sketch to me as a present for my birthday in November. But for nearly two months, it stayed under a desk while I looked at it daily and wondered where I would put it up. The thing was that his style of drawing was very different to mine and I couldn’t see a way to put it up without a stylistic conflict. It was not a huge ethical dilemma, a world changing event, it wasn’t something of even local importance but it became something deeply important to me. I wanted to hang the picture to acknowledge his very personal and beautiful gift to me but without a conflict. I wanted artistic harmony. After all, even though I paint, I have never been able to give any of my paintings away, even though I have been asked many times- I am too close to them, it’s like losing a baby for me. Sometimes, I even wondered if people would take a painting of mine and then throw it away. They would be throwing a bit of me away. Anyway, I think this is my struggle. But I was deeply appreciative of my friends’s generous gesture. So finally a couple of weeks ago, I decided to put it up. It meant I had to move several of my own works as wall space has become very precious. As I debated and adjusted, lifted, nailed, then took off everything again to do it again, it became like a Zen meditation for me. After the initial struggle to find the space, the exact location for it became a joyful adventure. As soon as I started to smile, I knew I was winning. How strange that hanging a picture should take that long but how satisfying the journey. As for the result, you can judge yourself. The chalk and pencil sketch on the right is from my friend, the rest of the pictures are mostly by myself except for the two of the calligraphy works- one by a teacher in Istanbul and the other one by William Morris. The top and bottom left are my works.
It is a strange mixture but it works.
I have come to the conclusion that most friendships do not last a lifetime and nor should one expect them to. People change and we change too. People move and people die. Friendships are transient, part of this world’s tumultuous life journey that come and go like waves Of course, for the time that we are together, we should respect one another and thoroughly love that time together. But one must not feel sad to let go when that time comes to an end for whatever reason. One must be grateful for that time spent together and not cling to the past.
Recently I celebrated a landmark birthday and I invited many past and present friends. I felt hurt that many of these friends did not come to this party (which had involved a lot of effort and expense) or even responded to my invite and even when I met them later, did not remember to wish me. Rather than hold a grudge or make some remark to remind them of their rudeness, I decided to let go of these people gracefully. People come together for many reasons- shared goals, passions and pains. When these emotions or events go, the people go as well. For that time in history, they were of value to me and I to them. For now and for the future that has not yet happened, they mark an important period of shared learning and growth. Thank you, my past and present friends!
I wrote yesterday about having spiritual buddies around you on your creative journey. These buddies can be those inspirational people who have passed away, those who are around but not in immediate contact (I think of Ann San Suu Kyi for example) and those who are in your immediate environment (I have many inspirational friends). Having such strong spiritual and creative base will help you to connect your own spirituality and creativity. They also make you stronger. In her book, ‘The Power is within you‘, Louise Hay says-“Every time you use your consciousness in a positive way, you are connecting with people who are doing the same. Every time you use it in a negative way, you are also connecting to that….Every time you visualise good for yourself, you do it for others as well.” In Buddhism, this is called associating with a friend in the orchid room. Nichiren says, “You have associated with a friend in the orchid room and have become as straight as mugwort growing among hemp.” Good influences from past and present make us grow into the best person we can be. (the photo is of my seven year old boy’s drawing of an orchid presented by a friend)