Posted by: Tess (Piyadassi) | February 20, 2012

Happy is how I look

Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose. ~ Kris Kristofferson

A new article of mine is posted at lifeasahuman.com. The subject of the piece, and more so the writing about it, brought up a bubbling well of emotions and a chance to look at ancient patterns that have never served me very well.

Here’s an excerpt:

“I did have a secret longing to be an artist’s muse. Perhaps I’d seen too many movies about Picasso, yet I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of being immortalized on canvas. Yes, it’s pure ego, but growing up average looking in a beauty worshiping society makes a woman wonder what it might feel like, just once, to be on the other side of the looking glass.”

And through the looking glass I went. There’s a painting of me now, a painting I find so moving, both in its beauty and in how it reshaped the way I see myself.  The title of it, Gathering Storm, startled me at first. Studying the canvas I felt its identity quaking in my chest, this image of me that had whispered its name to the artist. It was so alive, building in energy and expectation, strength and power, clearing to a sense of open expansion and a soft abiding calm.

Despite what you may think the scary part hadn’t happened yet. Sitting with the painting, Nicholas and I shared a cup of coffee and discussed what it brought up for both of us. We chatted about art, his paintings and my writing,  and what inspiration looked like for each of us. He suggested I write about the experience. I told him I had, in the privacy of my journal. How about something bigger? he said, a gentle nudge at end of his question.

Gulp. Posing nude was one thing; writing about it and sharing the painting with the world (well, at least a big chunk of Canada) was a whole other trip down a rabbit hole.  Yet I’ve found that when fear arises there’s always a part of me that welcomes the leap into the unknown abyss.  Some fears of course are grounded in tangible concern (a tiger on the porch, for example), but most times they show up at our doorstep as a wake up call to face old ways of thinking, baggage we don’t need anymore, judgments we’ve inflicted on ourselves for far too long. Facing fear is like stepping into a new skin of freedom and its always the perfect fit.

I wrote the article, sitting next to my misgivings of  “what will people think?”, “what will people say?”, and “what if nobody even notices?” I read it over and over again, studied the image of my painting, uploaded all of it to the website, took a deep breath and hit the submit button. Then I waited.

The article posted yesterday morning and so far nobody has told me I should be ashamed of myself (I did that for quite a few decades, thank you very much), nobody seemed repulsed by my body (now that would just be rude), and I haven’t been fired from my day job (but the day is young.)

My experience in front of the camera, on canvas and in writing have awakened my soul. Walking along the ocean yesterday morning, I relished the wind’s chilled touch of my face, hearing the warm play of gulls and people’s conversations and dogs laughing on the grass. I felt such kindness and gratitude for this body that was able to sense life in all its magnificence. I’m amazed at how I see myself so differently now through a lens cleaned away (for the time being at least) of the debris of a lifetime of faulty thinking. Living fully in this vessel of skin and bones, knowing it doesn’t care how I look or what I wear or anything at all besides loving each instant of this life, there really is nothing left to lose.

Weathering

My face catches the wind
from the snow line
and flushes with a flush
that will never wholly settle.
Well, that was a metropolitan vanity,
wanting to look young forever, to pass.
I was never a pre-Raphaelite beauty
and only pretty enough to be seen
with a man who wanted to be seen
with a passable woman.
But now that I am in love
with a place that doesn’t care
how I look and if I am happy,
happy is how I look and that’s all.
My hair will grow grey in any case,
my nails chip and flake,
my waist thicken, and the years
work all their usual changes.
If my face is to be weather beaten as well,
it’s little enough lost
for a year among the lakes and vales
where simply to look out my window
at the high pass
makes me indifferent to mirrors
and to what my soul may wear
over its new complexion.

“Weathering” by Fleur Adcock from Looking Back, published by Oxford University Press, USA, copyright 1998.

Me and Bobby McGee“, words and music by Kris Kristofferson and Fred L. Foster

Image: Pablo Picasso, The Artist and his Model, 1964

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Responses

  1. Shedding that old cocoon has certainly freed the butterfly within you, and what beautiful wings she bears. (Please note: The word “wings” is not being used as a euphemism.) So proud of you, dear one.

  2. Thanks M! Sometimes wings are just wings.

  3. “A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease.”
    John Muir

  4. So beautiful. Thank you David!

  5. […] of conversations and duties, when I eat my meals and sink into my bath at night. I’ve been more aware of my body and in giving it rest and my practice feels more body based now as well. Poems speak to the body. […]


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