591. Looking Forward and Missing Out the LifeOr how I’ve realized the expectations I’ve built upon ‘my life’ creating a ‘waiting mode’ for these ‘grandiose things’ yet to happen, instead of appreciating life as it takes place in every moment to truly learn to live.
I’ve been looking at my relationship with ‘meaning’ and I am aware that this might be more of a ‘philosophical’ approach here that I haven’t written out in a while, but it’s equally important to me due to what I’ve been doing recently which is painting again and doing so from a different starting point than how it all ‘once began’ for me in this curiosity and ‘desire to express’ all of these ‘things’ that I wanted to say somehow after having been writing and reading a lot on my own, taking on painting as a way to now ‘do my part’ in not only ‘taking in’ others’ creations, but also expressing it out/giving back something, somehow. That all started during a summer 14 years ago, so here I am 14 years later reflecting on what has been this ‘ride’ with my intent behind painting and ‘arts’ in general and how much of a ‘big deal’ I made of it in my mind.
I notice how I started paintings more as a ‘way of communicating’ something, wanting to ‘express’ something which yes at the time in the plethora of little watercolors I made were all related to feeling sorry for myself, feeling depressed, feeling lonely or painting an ‘ideal lifestyle’ that I would somehow someday get to experience myself in, so in a way yes painting emotional states or ‘ideal situations’ I’d see myself in, painted my fears of the future, my fears of growing up and getting into the ‘adult world’ and in a way wanting to stay within the realm of the ‘eccentric’ out of the ‘usual things’ to do in life, like the regular job and the regular ‘adult lifestyle’ that is completely immersed in the system and living a routine that ‘slowly kills you’ quoting Radiohead’s song which I would have on repeat mode while starting this ‘new thing’ for me to explore at the time which was painting, having no background on it, no painting lessons, no artsy relatives, no nothing, just some drawings here and there that I’d be focusing on during classes, because somehow it assisted me in remaining focused on what was being said.
Focusing here on that ‘desire to express’ to me was my way of ‘creating a meaning’ and ‘creating a purpose’ to something that I had many times judged as trivial, like paintings, stuff that I would fixate on and hang around me just for the pure sake of – as I’ve defined it – ‘visual viciousness’, which yes I ‘gave up’ for some time apparently while walking this process but, I decided to not make it a fixation anymore or this energized relationship of ‘seeing beautiful things’ around me to give them a name, because some were not necessarily ‘beautiful’ yet they more had a meaning to me. Each thing that I had around me had a ‘meaning’ and I consider that until this day, that can be said so about the bunch of stuff I have around me, so that is an interesting thing to consider as well.
How I got to ‘connect the dots’ to get to open up this topic on ‘meaning’ and wanting to create stuff that would ‘mean’ something or that would ‘express’ something closely related to something ‘transcendental’ or ‘beyond me’ or whatever else I defined as ‘larger than life’ was through having watched Jim Jarmusch’s latest movie Paterson and I must say that his previous movie Only Lovers Left Alive had left quite a ‘deep’ imprint on me at the time when I watched it and yes, was very emotional and dealt with a ‘touchy’ subject for me at the time, and when I watched this one, at first I was like ‘meh’ because! I didn’t get that ‘transcendental experience’ from it – read energetically charged and overwhelming experience - I didn’t get this ‘life changing’ insta-realization from it or didn’t get a floor-moving type of outcome from it – or at least I thought so initially. But of course I didn’t accept that to be ‘my final verdict’ on it as it was more of an ‘out of the movie theatre’ experience, though I had been aware that I had been in fact ‘disturbed’ while watching it in a certain way by the whole thing unfolding and not only because of ‘the movie’ in itself, but due to observing my approach towards It and what it had brought up in me while watching it.
So I challenged myself to see further, to see how I had been in fact disturbed by it, because of the role that routine takes in the movie and how we are creatures of routine, everything that happens day to day is ‘the same routine’ – sun comes up, sun goes down and we have to do what we have to do to keep alive – and then there’s the rest of ‘in between’ moments where our lives happen, and that’s where I noticed myself being almost ‘yearning’ for something different to happen, where I saw myself in this ‘waiting-mode’ for this ‘grand thing’ to happen in the whole movie… and it doesn’t – or shall I say it just ‘didn’t happen’ the way I was kind of expecting. In the movie, life unfolds, things just ‘take place’ and within realizing my expectations, I saw how I was in fact challenged on that, I saw how this ‘looking forward’ impulse in me was there the whole time until something kind of ‘unexpected’ happens and it becomes like a ‘start over’ in the film, but there was a slight sense within me throughout the whole thing of ‘is this it?’ and so expecting some ‘major’ event happening, some major ‘plot twist’ that would suddenly take me to the edge of my seat, lol even though I am aware of how Jarmusch’s movies are, there was still that kind of expectation within me… well it never happened and I am glad it didn’t, or more like it didn’t happen ‘during the movie’ but more on how it assisted me to reflect things about myself, my own life and day to day approach.
What this movie showed me is how much of a ‘waiting mode’ I create within life, where I’ve been ‘waiting for my life to happen’ so many years, waiting to ‘get somewhere’ or ‘go and live somewhere else’ for years only to realize that’s not really where I actually wanted to go to, yet I kept my whole day to day in ‘waiting mode’ for that and sort of ‘doing my thing’ in between, not really fully ‘living’ but again quoting Radiohead, it felt like just ‘killing time’ until I would ‘get there’ and I just didn’t.
What this film made me appreciate again is the simplicity of life happening on a day to day basis, where we cannot ever ‘get rid of’ routine, in fact it was a great test to be OK with witnessing this whole routine unfolding throughout a week and not getting ‘desperate’ in it or go into some sort of backchat around how ‘this was so predictable’ because in essence it could be defined as such – but I decided to choose to rather appreciate the ‘moment by moment’ situations in the film and let go of expecting these ‘grand situations’ coming up, and instead appreciate the normalcy of it for ‘what it is’ which of course it has a lot of charms in it that had been carefully built in throughout the whole film that I also in that moment got to enjoy.
It was also interesting because I had written out before about my relationship to routine itself, but something changes when you are witnessing someone else’s routine, specially within the context of a movie which opened up new points for me to explore, and that’s great, because it also made me realize how I cannot really ever say ‘I’m clear towards that word/concept’ it’s a constant opening, evolving, changing thing based on how we interact with everything and everyone else.
Once that the film was over, the fact that my ‘great expectations’ were sort of by default deflated, I was pushed to ‘rewind’ it in my head to then see what it was really all about for me and how there wasn’t this ‘great meaning’ to it, this ‘transcendental outcome’ that I was expecting, but how it all depends on ‘who I am’ within watching it and so rather seeing what I decide to appreciate or take from the movie as a sheer enjoyable experience of immersing myself in this guy’s life and his day to day living for a week and ‘all that happens in between.’
This led me to see how even if I ‘thought’ of myself as not being conditioned by the ‘great plots’ and ‘great twists’ in stories, I had become somewhat ‘hooked’ on that kind of narratives because they end up engaging more of an emotional experience than a simple witnessing of life happening - everyday living happening - which also reminds me of a similar Japanese movie I also watched not long ago called After the Storm in a similar vein where the character is already a mature man that seems to be waiting for some things yet to ‘happen’ in his life and there’s no big ending on the story, but more like the resolution of how he had to simply ‘keep walking his life’ and letting go of these hopes he held about his career and personal life. I also got to enjoy the movie for the depiction that it is of ‘regular lives’ without any transcendental events, just ‘normal day to day’ relationships unfolding and the ‘charms’ in life as it unfolds.
My redefined approach to these movies assisted me to see how there has been this ‘waiting for the great moment’ type of approach to my life, just like that ‘climax’ that we many times believe will somehow end up happening in our ‘life story’ and will ‘forever change us’ and will ‘forever be this grand moment’ but, that’s more like how I realize I have been conditioned to THINK of life, instead of actually Living it, as is, in its day to day, without expectations, without ‘waiting modes,’ without ‘creating these perfect moments’ that I probably got to read a lot about in books and that I many times tried to recreate in my own life through relationships and through the kind of paintings I would make, where I wanted to evoke this ‘superb’ experience, this ‘epicness’ that could somehow scare you and frighten you and give you this sense of this ‘bigger than life’ meaning that …. Well, I have to now realize has been my own ‘mindjob’ to be honest and how I am rather being grateful to once again through art and in this case through films and documentaries be able to ‘get myself off of my high horse’ and appreciate what I had previously seen as the ‘insignificant things in life’, the day to day, the Living moment, rather than being in my head holding this ‘grand expectations’ for ‘greater meanings, greater purposes’ over my shoulders about this ‘epic event’ or ‘climatic moment’ in my life that is apparently ‘yet to come.’
I once made a lithograph that reads ‘never wait’ and the face has got this anguished experience because that’s for the most part how I spent many years in my life, waiting for ‘my life to happen’ in some sort of ‘waiting for someone to knock at your door, discover your real talents and make you have a great life’ type of thing… not really realizing that life is not about building these ‘great outcomes’ or ‘grand schemes’ or ‘big climatic epic moments’ but it IS all about everything in between from the moment we are aware of ourselves as individuals to our last breath, it is ALL of our life, from the ‘greater changes’ and decisions to the ‘smallest’ moments.
I decide to stop living as a walking-expectation in ‘waiting mode’ for this ‘something great’ to happen to me… if anything, I am living it as I speak, we are all kinds of ‘miracles’ of life considering how far we’ve pushed ourselves in this world to coexist and have relatively ‘normal lives’ with all the inner and outer chaos that we recreate within and without on a daily basis… It showed me how much I have taken ‘normalcy’ for granted as well when it comes to polarizing my experience to that of the most unfortunate majority in this world that surely cannot even afford to spend a couple of hours watching a movie about ‘life unfolding’ because their own is not even being ‘lived fully’ but only ‘survived through.’
All of these points make me place my life into perspective, not to make me feel ‘bad’ or ‘insignificant’ with my topics opened up here when polarized and compared to ‘those that are suffering in this world,’ because of course anything will seem petty and meaningless when going into comparison with anything that stands as manifested consequences that yes, we will have to sort out altogether; but I’ve also learned to not attempt and try to ‘save the world’ without first living one’s life in an actual self-aware manner, and so beginning within changing the way I approach ‘life itself’ for example, stepping down from this ‘grand idea’ of all of these ‘meaningful things’ that I wanted to create and say and express in my head and rather equalize the meaning to every moment that I am alive – no more, no less – it’s there for me to decide who I am in it.
I’ve been aware of how far out I’ve gone to when it comes to ‘judging things’ but this is part of how I’ve created my own limitations/ fears and ideals in relation to anything in life, any part of ‘what’s here’ and that’s all based on how I’ve judged things, people, places, situations, events, outcomes as either good, bad, exciting, dull, depressive, joyful, and creating preferences around ‘what I want to experience’ instead of embracing life as a whole, as the compendium of all of these things as ‘what life is about,’ which is not about seeking an ‘experience’ all the time or finding any grand meanings, not about making these ‘transcendental pictures’ or wanting to ‘save the world’ or ‘save others from themselves’, but about getting to live fully in my own life and with those around me and in the relationships that I create.
For now I do see that if we all did this, a lot of the existential anguish as I like to call it would fade away and we would start reconsidering what ‘living’ and ‘life is really about – maybe we would start embracing and appreciating our life in every moment, ‘as it happens,’ where in my particular case I choose to take it also as an opportunity to create myself in every moment as the person I am aware I can live with for the rest of my life, where I can enjoy those seemingly ‘repetitive moments’ by stopping judging ‘repetition’ as a ‘boring’ thing or ‘uneventful’ thing, and in that sense stopping looking for these ‘grand experiences in my life,’ but simply take life as is
Some events will surely ‘shake us’ more than others, but it’s all part of living, it cannot happen ‘every day’ nor would it even be sane to live that way in a ‘high rollercoaster of emotions’ because we of course take a toll on our bodies if that was even a possibility… it just can’t and I shouldn’t even expect that as ‘LIFE happening…’ that’s not living, that’s a constant yearning to be forever stimulated into a perception or energized experience of living, but it’s not living as such.
I’d like to rather consider the simplicity of things, which yes I have before in my photography practice tried to also ‘turn into something more’ than what it is when taking pictures of ‘garbage’ or what I would judge as ‘deprecating things or ‘meaningless stuff’ and give it a spot through my eyes in a desire to make it beautiful or ‘sublime’ or whatever else, but that’s still me wanting to make things ‘more’ than what they are… and that’s not the point either.
Here I can instead look back at my physical body as a reference of what ‘life is’ and extend the same approach that my body lives on a day to day basis to ‘how I live life.’ It goes through its ups and downs at times, there are entire seasons where everything is just ‘fine’ and working well, it just ‘is’, it moves, it digests, it grows, it decays, it goes through its processing and challenges due to whatever I do or not do with it on my day to day, but it doesn’t NEED any meaning to exist, my body doesn’t require these ‘transcendental experiences’ to keep itself alive, it just lives, it just exists, it just keeps breathing whether I am aware of it or not, and I am entirely grateful for it because, man, we all know that we would not be existing right here and right now if we had to entirely manage every single process that is consciously done by our physical body in itself and at the same time handle ourselves as our mind and being… it’s a marvelous thing yet, I’ve already shared before as well how much I had taken it for granted.
This same approach is what I decide to integrate in my life from now on and even in this week after watching that movie on Sunday, it has assisted me to ‘slow’ down’ in that sense in my ‘waiting-modes’ and ‘building expectations’ towards something eventually ‘happening’ in my life which are still there as potential outcomes, yet I have been deliberately focusing more on this ‘moment by moment’ approach, and more so, to not judge ‘the moment’ as ‘more or less’ than anything, to not seek to make every moment ‘larger than life’ lol, because that would be me in my mind wanting to still exist as some form of stimulation, an ‘experience’, a ‘meaning separate from myself’ in my head rather than taking life as it happens and living it to the best of my ability in that moment, pushing myself to in my case and current point of focus, stop looking ‘forward’ to anything, but be fully present and in that creating an awareness more towards my physical body, my own experience, how I ‘see things’, how I relate to people, how I perceive my environment, etc.
All of this is also a result of a great series of interviews related to many of these points I’ve opened up and that I am quite grateful for because it has assisted me to identify where I am still very much in my mind looking at life, instead of actually Living it, so I suggest checking them out to genuinely ‘enlighten’ ourselves for once and for all about what’s really REAL in this world and that I had definitely taken for granted.
Available at eqafe.com:
Redefining Physical - The Crucifixion of Jesus - Part 109
Redefining Physical (Part 2) - The Crucifixion of Jesus - Part 110
Redefining Physical (Part 3) - The Crucifixion of Jesus - Part 111
I’ll continue with more on the ‘meaning’ and paintings in another blog…
Thanks for reading