Thursday, January 26, 2012

Embracing Trickster as Teacher

Many will agree that life often throws us curve balls, but often the purpose is misunderstood.  Some of us feel as though it is personal, like the universe is out to get us.  Others might say it is a result of karma we have created, just cause and effect in action.  In any case, there is often a fair degree of judging of the situation.  I have come see life's curve balls as opportunities and as teaching moments. This comes after many many years of seeing life through a negative lens, of personalizing all obstacles as some kind of divine punishment.  Thinking this way prevented me from transcending the experience and growing.

About a month ago I experienced a moment of realization that confirmed my shift in view.  I was knitting a sleeve of a sweater, one that offered a huge challenge and required starting it over at least five times.  Finally I finished the sleeve only to discover that I had knitting the sleeve incorrectly and had to start the whole thing over again.  Surprisingly I didn't get mad, I wasn't even frustrated this time.  I sat back and looked at this sleeve as a symbol of my life, for in the last five years (and probably much longer) I have gone through a continual cycle of starting, moving forward, stopping, starting over, moving forward, stopping, starting over on and on.  Back in October I was in a stopping phase and starting to get fed up.  Why was this happening all the time? What was I missing that had me caught in this loop?

Then my grandmother became gravely ill.  My family gathered together to be with her as she died, only to find she recovered.  It was both a blessing and a curse.  She was ready to go.  Her life before had grown challenging as she is legally blind, mostly deaf and physically limited.  Her very independent life was shrinking rapidly.  I stayed with her for a time, helping her regain some sense of independence, while being nearby to assist in the things she could no longer manage on her own.  I expected this help I offered would be temporary, but as I spent more time with her,  I felt as though I was doing something very important.  I realized I wanted to continue to help her and be with her as she prepared for the inevitable.  It was a huge curve ball. 

I wondered what does this mean for my art? Suddenly my time is not my own. My strict schedule of working on my art and researching, my quiet time and alone time all went out the window.  How would I be able to create my art? A fellow artist, Helena Nelson Reed, suggested that this work as a caretaker was my creative work for the moment.  The Dark Being drawings and paintings may actually be a preparing for this period of time.  She had suggested some time ago that I explore the Trickster as a sacred teacher and she repeated this recommendation.  So I started to look at the role of Trickster in my life.

Trickster has been present in my life for quite a long time.  Curve balls are probably thrown by Trickster.  I understood Trickster as mischievous, a prankster, unorthodox, maybe a little crazy and sometimes mean. But Trickster as a sacred teacher is much more than an annoyance, from what I understand Trickster can be very powerful.   Trickster lives in the realm of transition, of what may or may not be, the border regions of life, death, and afterlife.  The term psychopomp can be applied to Trickster.  The caretaker who helps the person transition from life to death does the work of sacred Trickster. 

I started understand how Trickster was manifesting in my life.  Currently, as I took on the role of caretaker for my grandmother, but even before that in creating pet portrait sculptures in memoriam of beloved pets.  I looked back and realized how much I worked at living outside the norm, not accepting status quo, asking questions, pushing boundaries, etc.  This all was happening without my conscious awareness.  However, living the Trickster path without awareness meant that lessons come with a lot of difficulty.  Hence the repeating cycles of starting and starting over!

Now I am working on exploring the role of sacred Trickster and how to establish a better relationship.  My life is about to go through a major upheaval, yet again, but I understand that this is part of what Trickster asks and having not really listened before, I have to accept some level of discomfort for the time being.  When I don't listen to the lessons and instructions of Trickster, Trickster resorts to playing hardball and sometimes hardball means throwing curves.

One thing that Trickster has been asking of me for years is to focus my creative work as a spiritual path.  I have talked about this for some time and I have worked toward this steadily since 2004.  However, I was not committing fully to this, believing that my creative spiritual path was about the products I created.  Instead, I am realizing that the products are only the side results, while the true creative spiritual practice comes in the forging of the path itself.  For most artists, it is important to focus on a particular medium or type of art.  Some might move comfortable between a few different mediums, but even within those mediums there is a connection of style, expression or theme.  I struggled with being pulled in many directions and confusing that with being distracted and unfocused.  I tried to narrow down to two mediums, painting and sculpture. I tried to push fiber arts to a hobby, believing I should limit myself.  However, I was not listening to the spirit calling me and letting myself explore the path that was unfolding. I got hooked focusing on the products alone.  This became another factor in this unending loop of starting over.

During this time of caretaking, when my time is disrupted and focus is challenged, I will be exploring how Trickster can be a teacher and guide for me.  Not having the time I am used to for working on my art will allow me to experiment more. I can focus on the act of creating and not dwell so much on the products for a time.  Breaking structure to allow new insights in is another teaching method of Trickster.  I am taking a deep breath and preparing for a lot of work and rework ahead.

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