Know Thyself

With the release of the movie “Matrix Resurrections,” I was inspired to watch the original “Matrix” film again.  (I have not seen the newest film, at the time that I am writing this, so no spoilers please.)  I had not watched the “Matrix” in a long time and several things caught my attention.  However, this is not by any stretch of imagination a film review.

After watching the original “Matrix” film, I was discussing with friends about how ground-breaking this film was.  Special effects have been changed forever thanks to this movie.  There are a lot of really good life lessons in this film as well.  The biggest is the question “Are you really experiencing your life?” and “What does it mean to be alive?”  Whole philosophy classes could be taught based on the “Matrix” movie.

One of my favorite scenes in the first movie was when Neo is sent to meet with the Oracle.  He is in a room with other potential candidates, most of them children.  One child was bending a spoon and makes memorable comment “Do not try to bend the spoon.  That is impossible.  Only instead try to realize the truth.  Neo asks, What’s that?  The boy, There is no spoon.”  Philosophical question, “What is the nature of reality?”

When Neo goes into the kitchen to see the Oracle, she is baking cookies.  She directs Neo to look at a plaque on her wall with the words “Temet Nosce.”  Temet Nosce, or when translated from Latin to English, means know thyself.  I always thought this was interesting direction.  We are all trying to find out who we are and where we are going in a universe of limitless possibilities.

How hard it is to know oneself.  We are told things about ourselves from the instant we are born.   We have our own ideas of who we are.  There are things that we do not like to face about ourselves.  Sometimes our ego gets into the way.  Sometimes someone else’s ego gets in the way.

The journey of knowing who we are is the adventure of our lifetime.  The point of this journey is not to arrive.  It is to live, become and to grow.  Discover yourself every day.

I would go on to say that the Oracle missed something in her advice to Neo.  Not only should we work on knowing ourselves, but one needs to learn to love thyself as well.   There is a quote attributed to Buddha, “Love yourself and the rest will follow.”  Love is an important step in knowing oneself.  It is the basis of compassion and forgiveness which help us in loving others.

Have you heard the saying that you cannot truly love anyone else until you love yourself.  In the gospel of Matthew from the Christian Bible, Jesus is quoted as saying that the second greatest commandment is “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

The month of February is often associated with Valentines Day, an annual festival to celebrate romantic love, friendship and admiration.  Every year on 14 February people celebrate this day by sending messages of love and affection to partners, family and friends.  For Valentine’s Day this year, I challenge you to follow the advice of the Oracle from the “Matrix” and know thyself.  But I further challenge you to love thyself and as attributed to Buddha allow the rest to follow.  Allow forgiveness and compassion, for yourself and for your neighbor, following the second commandment as quoted by Jesus.  This year let’s make Valentine’s Day a celebration of love that not only begins with us, but within us.

Temet Nosce!

Blank Canvas

“It is so fine and yet so terrible to stand in front of a blank canvas.”  Paul Cezanne

Every artist and creative person understands Paul Cezanne’s quote about the blank canvas.  What can I paint?  What does my artwork say?  How can I explore this subject in a way that feels new and fresh to me?  These questions can be asked by any creative person: writer, dancer, poet, chef, musician, weaver, photographer, etc.

The creative block in the quote does not necessarily relate only to canvas.  The month of January has been a challenging blank canvas for me.  The art classes I am teaching start in a couple weeks and I did not want my classes to be the same as they were before.  All month I poured over previous lessons, new art books and supplies in fierce determination to make my classes even better.

Last night at 8:30 p.m., I felt like I accomplished my goal for all of the classes.  I think my students will learn new and interesting techniques, try new art supplies, and learn fun facts.  But I couldn’t have gotten to that point without facing my blank canvas. 

To all artists and creatives feeling the challenge of the blank canvas, you will make it through.  It is only through facing our blank canvas moments that we become stronger, better artists.

Thoughts on Thanksgiving

A couple days before the Thanksgiving holiday, I was working on writing a haiku poem.  Maybe it is the time of year, but I kept coming back to words like Thankful and Grateful.  

I feel thankful to have had a better year.  I am thankful that I am able to go outside and see friends.  I am grateful that my friends and family are all doing well.

I realized that I am hopeful… for many things… but mostly for possibilities that each new day brings.  I am so blessed to have my four-year old niece in my life on a daily basis.  She teaches me to be patient,  kind and live in the moment.  I am hopeful for her future.

I will try to remember to be kind to all those I meet.  A simple act of kindness may change someone’s day in a positive way.  

One must not forget the importance of love and remember to be open to the possibilities and blessings that love brings.

I had many ideas of how words work together to invoke the feelings of Thanksgiving.  Below is the haiku poem inspired by my thoughts.

Words of Thanksgiving

Hopeful, Blessed, Loving and Kind,

Thankful and Gratitude.

a – ha

Two years ago, this month, I flew to Belfast, Northern Ireland to see the band a-ha play in concert.  It often amazes me when and where the universe chooses to teach me life lessons.

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You see, I have been a fan of a-ha since I was eleven years old.  To see a-ha live, had been a dream of mine my entire life.  Living in a rural community of North Central Montana, there were not a lot of people who were into the books, movies or music that I was into.  I often felt very different and excluded by my peers, because I did not have the same world view that they did.

In fact, had I quite telling people that a-ha was my favorite band because I was tired of being teased about it.  I just quietly kept listening and loving their music.  And finally after all of these years, I got to see them in concert.  And it was amazing!!!!

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Here comes the life lesson.  Don’t let anyone make you feel ashamed about the things that you love.

The stadium was almost completely full and everyone there was singing and enjoying the music as much as I did.  I even met an amazing woman from Brazil who had seen a-ha in concert dozens of times and met Morton Harket.

My “a-ha moment” was that I had allowed people to make me feel ashamed of my love of this band and their amazing music.  I had allowed it.  It was my choice.  But no more!  And I let those feelings go.

Now I eagerly tell anyone who asks about my favorite band a-ha, as I proudly wear my concert t-shirt!

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Fall Inspired Haiku Poetry

 

skill of hand writing

the pen glides over the page

lost art from the past?

Indian summer

a glorious time of year

blessed with warm fall days

meteor shower

shooting stars through crisp fall air 

natures fireworks

the apple orchard

bursting with fresh fruit to pick

its time to harvest

the old harvest moon

hangs in the inky black sky

lighting up the night

 

 

Between the Folds

I recently watched the documentary “Between the Folds” from filmmaker Vanessa Gould.  When I reserved the film I knew it was about Origami.  What I was not prepared for was how much more than just Origami this film is about.

origami polar bear

The documentary was released in 2008 and runs for 55 minutes.  Less than an hour long, this film is full of interesting information and beautiful images.  Like the origami polar bear above.  

Archival footage of Akira Yoshizawa shows the grandmaster of origami working on his art.  He is credited with the elevation of origami from a craft to a living art.  Akira estimated in 1989, that he had created more than 50,000 models of which only a few hundred designs were presented as diagrams in his 18 books.

The film talks to artists about the fine art of origami.  One of the artists makes the paper that he uses for his origami creations.  Others talk about the evolution of the art over time and their inspiration.  This documentary features the following notable origami artists: Erik Demaine, Martin Demaine, Tom Hull, Eric Jeisel, Satoshi Kamiya and Robert J. Long.

Origami top

“Between the Folds” talks about how the art of origami inspires teachers and helps their students with mathematical challenges and creative solutions.  Several very cool math teachers, who use origami in their class rooms were featured in the documentary as well. 

One portion of the film that I found incredible and fascinating, was how the art of origami enabled scientists to solve problems not only in mathematics but other areas of science like physics and medicine. 

Between the Folds was given the Peabody Award in 2010.  An award that I feel it greatly deserved.

An amazing illustration of creativity over vast areas of the human experience, I highly recommend the documentary “Between the Folds.” 

Fugitive Telemetry

The newest novel  “Fugitive Telemetry” by Martha Wells is another wonderful exploration into the world of Murderbot, the part human, part robot security unit.  The following is from the book cover:

“No, I didn’t kill the dead human.  If I Had, I wouldn’t dump the body in the station mall.

When Murderbot discovers a dead body on preservation station, it knows it is going to have to assist station security to determine who the body is (was), how they were killed (that should be relatively straightforward, at least), and why (because apparently that matters to a lot of people – who knew?).

Yes, the unthinkable is about to happen: Murderbot must voluntarily speak to humans!

Again!”

-Jacket cover of Fugitive Telemetry 

At Preservation Station, Murderbot is hanging out watching media, protecting his humans and hoping that there isn’t an attack from GrayCris. When a body is found, SecUnit is contracted by Station Security to assist in the investigation. The story takes off, pun intended, from there.

One of my favorite parts of these novels is the conversations that Murderbot has with himself in his head.

“The weapons scanner (which I was not allowed to hack, and which I wasn’t hacking) alerted on me, but it had my body scan ID on the weapons-allowed list so it didn’t set off an alarm.  (I have energy weapons in my arms and it’s not like I can leave them behind in the hotel room.)  (I mean, my arms are detachable so theoretically I could leave them behind if I had a little help but as a longterm solution it was really inconvenient.)  I was sure the weapons scanner would alert Station Security that I was in the area.”

Chapter Three, Pages 45-46 of Fugitive Telemetry

The relationships that Murderbot has developed with the humans through the course of the novels continues to delight me. The quote below is about Murderbot determining who to call when he wants to break into a damaged transport.

“That left me with the human most likely to want to drop everything and come watch me break into a damaged transport and the human also most likely to come watch me break into a damaged transport but only so he could argue with me about it.

So I called both of them.” 

Chapter Three, Pages 47-48 of Fugitive Telemetry

If you follow the novels in the order that they were published “Fugitive Telemetry” is sixth in the series. But if you follow the novels as they happen in the storyline, “Fugitive Telemetry” is fifth in the series. My recommendation for reading the novels is to read them as they happen in the storyline which is as follows:

  1. All Systems Red
  2. Artificial Condition
  3. Rogue Protocol
  4. Exit Strategy
  5. Fugitive Telemetry
  6. Network Effect

If you would like to read my reviews of the other five novels, click on their titles here: All Systems RedArtificial ConditionRogue Protocol, Exit Strategy and Network Effect

I can’t stress enough how well written these novels are. Martha Wells captures the balance between the robotic and organic sides of SecUnits personality. She also tackles questions and issues that pertain to planet on which we are living. For example, what does it mean to be human? Corporations verses human rights. And many other thought provoking topics throughout the series.

Creative, fun and an enjoyable read. I highly recommend “Fugitive Telemetry” and the entire series of Murderbot novels. I haven’t heard if there are more books planned for this series. I am hoping Martha Wells will continue to writing about Murderbot’s adventures well into the future.

Summer inspired Haiku Poetry

every shade of blue

not a cloud in the big sky

it feels like summer

heat is stifling

ice tea, sunglasses, cool pool

help take the edge off

asleep in the sun

red as a boiled lobster

yep, that’s gonna hurt

standing by the gate

waiting for your arrival

summer light fading

scent, colour, sound, touch

my mother’s flower garden

feast for the senses

outline of mountains

across the perfect clear sky

oh! to be outside

6th Anniversary of Cats Out of the Box

Last year was tough.  I think most people would agree with that statement.  It wasn’t just one thing.  It was watching the surrealistic events unfold all over the world.  It came to a point where I just could not process it anymore.  I had to pause writing my blog while I watched and worked through what was happening.

In December, I started blogging again.  Slowly, with one blog post a month and most of them being book reviews to get back into the rhythm of writing.

I want to thank everyone for their support and encouragement as I continue to stumble through writing my blog this year.  I’m still not sure where things are going with my blog and writing.  As with any creative endeavor, it will continue to evolve and change.

  • To my family there are not enough words to express my gratitude for your assistance, patience, feedback and support.  I know that having me in your lives can be a challenge.  You help me to be the best artist and creative person I can be.  I am truly grateful for you.
  • To my friends, so often the conversations we have are the creative sparks for a blog post.  Thank you for your emotional and creative support.  You help me be a better writer, artist, creativity coach and teacher.  I am grateful for all of you.
  •  My friend, Eric Hanson, is an amazing poet and I have used his poems in my blogs off and on over the years.  Thank you for letting me share your beautiful creative work with others.  Eric has also let me bounce ideas for blog posts off of him.  Some are definitely a lot better than others.  Thank you for listening, making suggestions and not letting me embarrass myself in the written word.
  • I would also like to send a special thank you to the students who participated in the Art Sampler, Beginning and advanced Acrylic Painting, Fine Art of Book Making, Printmaking and Mixed Media Collage Classes.  You have inspired me with your stories, questions, and amazing creative work.  You are all amazing creative people and I am excited to see where your creativity will take you.
  • To my readers and blog friends who follow my blog as part of the WordPress community, I am grateful for your support.  I am continually inspired by all of you and the creative work that you are doing.  No matter where you are located on this planet or what your blog is about….. your creativity, bravery in sharing feelings and ideas, and support make me proud to be a part of the WordPress blogging community.
  • Thank you to those that like my posts.  I appreciate you taking the time to support my creative work.  You motivate me to keep writing.
  • Thank you to those that post comments and provide feedback.  I enjoy hearing your thoughts about my work.  I am so proud when something I have written inspires others.  Your words mean the world to me.

I am looking forward to another year of blogging and creative explorations. Thank you for joining me on this adventure!