The world as I see it;
Blink. It’s Friday morning. I look at my phone to see 6:27am. An early wake-up call, aided by the sound of latino praise and worship music the neighbors used as an alarm clock.
I’m not sure what the words were, but it reminded me of something I’d hear during my life as a member of a charismatic evangelical church. Minus the flags, banners, and dancers…
For a moment, I wondered why anybody would drown themselves in this sort of experience. 20 years was all I needed to take a look inside the halls of organized religion and realize it only contains part of the picture for our spiritual experience.
For a while, I wrestled with these thoughts. Working my way out of bed, I looked up and stared at my most recent piece of art. That’s when it clicked.
I look at my paintings and see remnants of a pentecostal worship background – now translated in a way that makes sense to me.
God comes in all shapes and sizes…these days, especially.
Perhaps it’s for a sense of belonging, or to answer the ‘why am I here’ question, but a connection with something beyond explanation seems pretty universal.
At 32 years-old, I’ve been around the block enough times to get a pretty good perspective of the way the world works. These three decades have been packed with many ‘mini-lives’ that each took their turn at the wheel.
For most of my adult life I’ve been void of a traditional job. Every time I threw the hat on, it never seemed to stay put for very long before returning to making ends meet on my own terms.
When you aren’t plugging in to the 9-5 work week, you see life through a different lens…
This afternoon, I stopped to share conversation with Josiah; a homeless man living on the streets of San Francisco. For a brief snapshot in time, he shared his experience of life with me.
It wasn’t easy – or pretty.
However, Josiah had a little nugget of love to share with me this afternoon; himself, and a handshake with a hand that looked like it could use a bath.
When you get close enough to the people who need your life, don’t expect the circumstances to be sterile.
Josiah’s hands reminded me of my own, which are often covered in hard-to-clean spray paint, or in need of their own bath after hours spent doing dirty work.
Every time I wash my hands, I think back to the days where I’d watch my Father as he cleaned motor oil from his hands/body using industrial-grade GOJO soap. Rubbing away bits of spray paint with steel wool, I sometimes wonder if he’d be proud of me…I digress.
When I look around at the world, I see an inherent desire for connection, authenticity, and peace.
There are a lot of people claiming to have the answer for these things. However, I’ve never found any of the answers to hold their weight for very long.
I’m reminded a bit of the story The Emperor Has No Clothes, as it pertains to modern-day spirituality and human-ism. The flashiest ensembles seem to be hollow when you take a look at the inside.
This revelation often leads me to look inside at my own truths and modus operandi of connecting with the outside world.
What do I want? How do I want to be treated? What do I wish others could see in me? What value can I provide?
When I look at my paintings, things start to make sense. Like a painting, I want to be unique, handled with care, studied, understood, celebrated, and valued.
I want to walk out in the world and offer everything about me with full transparency; hiding nothing and letting the expression of authenticity breathe the outside air, instead of being trapped inside of my body, locked in memories, or swiped by without a second thought.
Unfortunately, authenticity doesn’t sell nearly as well as Chanel – and we live in a world that does everything in its power to remind you that you, as you are, aren’t good enough.
The right label, set of car keys, spouse, religion, or net worth will somehow make you enough…
I think that all of us know (secretly) this is a lie. Nikes won’t make you fly like Jordan, and there’s much more to the girl than the curl.
To find clarity from a commercial-driven world, the only answer I’ve ever found is to look deep inside and figure out the answer to life’s biggest question:
What do you want?
When it’s all over – I think we’ll all look at this life thing and marvel at the indescribable beauty it offered us when we were least expecting it.
It wasn’t through religion, spiritualism, or ritual that life became more clear. It was through experiences, time, and conversation.
It was through moments with Josiah, Sister J, or getting to know the laundromats who washed my clothes in Bali that I began to have an understanding of the world and the way it works – as well as my heart’s desire.
Acceptance. Peace. Harmony. Joy. Laughter. Building bridges. Healing. Helping. Hoping. Giving. Protecting. Magic.