When something bad happens, you have three choices: let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you.

The heart of the difference is not ability or even talent, but desire

The purpose of life is to discover and develop your gift. The meaning of life comes from sharing your gift with others. - David Viscott

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Art or Gift?

General warning: this post has no underlying contest besides exerts from the book I am reading right now.

I stumbled across a book, as I often do, and can’t put it down. It was picked for a different reason than the one I discover as I go along the pages. It is almost like a history of human kind…

Remember Adam and Eve story? They ate a fruit from the tree of good and evil (if everything was equal in nature back then, why such a tree?); saw their nakedness and got ashamed. Why did they get ashamed? Was this the feeling they were supposed to get, or was it description that came later? How did they now that their private parts are “shameful”? What if they saw nakedness as “difference” and simply got scared of their “loneliness”, not been the same? And the clothes cover came as a mean to “feel” the same? And from this "loneliness" feeling was born the starvation for "been loved and desired"...
What is the difference between “same” and “equal”? Religion as faith is based in equality as far as I heard. We, men, are equal amongst each other, and that is why we are “not to kill, to steal, to commit adultery, to lie”…equal are two poles, North Pole and South Pole, opposite yet world wouldn’t exist without one or other. Same…is a crowd. Not standing out, hiding, been ashamed, “look-alike, play-alike, talk-alike”. Been equal is “been one” – and back in days when human race was just born and developing, everyone was “one” – with a tribe, with nature, between men and women, yet they cherished the differences: who does what and how they look. Equality today means “sameness” rather than “oneness”. It is the sameness of men that is crazy these days. We have tasks prescribed for us (and it doesn’t even matter whether we are high on the job ladder or low, the idea is similar), we drive same cars, we are eager for prestige and career and power, read same books prescribed by book clubs, watch same movies shown in cinemas, our fun and amusement is almost the same with slight variation (kids? Disney. Adults? Hawaii or Cancun. Flash-stuff? Vegas. Quiet time? Yosemite…and so on). The church – not faith – is what also draws people to become “same” – a specific religion, a special building, the way to dress, to chant, to pray, to donate…Just think for a moment – even our feelings are prescribed! How are you? Fine, thank you, and you? When was the last time you heard an answer: “I feel like crap”, besides if it’s not from your significant other or best friend? We are supposed to be cheerful and tolerant and have ambition. Even feminism, what had started on equality, had become “sameness”. Not only did we, women, get to have (occasionally) same jobs and same pay – we now dress the same, act the same, and loose the feminine side we used to have. Remember North and South Poles? The polarity of the sexes is disappearing, and with it erotic love, which is based on this polarity. And forget this whole deal about “be like Johnson’s”!!! I won’t even go there!

Where does it lead? That we look at the most pristine feeling we desire – love – as if we were shopping at the mall. Our whole culture is based on the appetite of buying, on the idea of multifavorable exchange. I am out for a bargain; the object should be desirable from the standpoint of its social value, and at the same time should want me, considering my overt and hidden assets and potentialities. And from here goes the biggest obstacle for future happiness: love is viewed as an object, not a function. I fell in love, therefore the feeling (love) shall stay with me for the rest of my life. Same goes for my partner. Then – why doesn’t it???

Mostly our mistake is that we think of love as “been loved” rather than “loving”. And the problem arises as we are trying hard to be “lovable” and not learn to “love”.

Like religious faith, love is a practice. It has its elements: the discipline, the concentration, the patience, and the mastery of the art. Art is work. Art of painting, art of music, art of medicine, art of engineering… Art requires two steps: a certain set of knowledge (the mastery of the theory) and a lot of work (the mastery of practice). One can’t become a doctor by simply reading all the books on human anatomy and diseases, just the same as by only doing things with no information on “how to”. But art needs yet another factor besides these two to be able to prosper to the heights of Mozart and Michelangelo: the mastery of the art must be a matter of ultimate concern; there must be nothing else in the world more important than the art. This goes for love as well. And, may be, here lies the answer to the question of why people in our culture try so rarely to learn this art, in spite of craving it so much – almost everything else is considered to be more important than love, and energy is used on learning the tricks to achieve success, prestige, money, power…Not only do we not have energy and time to learn this “new unnecessary art”, we also remember the definition of “falling” in love, thus it means after “falling” we should just be “staying” in it, or “standing”. Standing is a term of stagnation. Where there is no development, there is no life, as each and every life on this Mother Earth is “something moving somewhere”: atoms are moving around its orbits, nuclei move inside cells, blood moves in vessels to deliver oxygen and nutrients, body parts move to be able to change location and position, we grow up, we change, we get old…and yes, unfortunately, we die eventually too. Why is it legitimate to “stand still” in love after “falling into it”?

OK, it’s just a little absent-minded rant based on Art of Loving, using mostly original text with some random thoughts and adaptations. By the way, I am not even 1/3 into this book, so I carry no responsibilities for changing my mind. One thing for sure – I always thought of love as work. Not that it means I have to overcome my will to do it (as I do with my job these days), but as something that requires constant attention and nurturing and can’t be left to survive on its own. At this point I just wanted to, well, not even so much share, as to leave these notes to myself for the future (the book is from the library), remember, this blog is MY diary, right? :-)


  1. Anonymous13/8/08 13:53

    That was an amazing RANT!! Keep up the hard work. it is a lifetime commitment and worth all the effort.

  2. The "absent-minded rant" is awesome. Keep it coming, but save some for GTR !

  3. This is a great rant!!! Being lovable vs. learning to love... The former, for me, means one must change for the other person in order order to meet some preconceived criteria by the one we want to be loved by (doesn't that change the essence of the individual?) vs. a genuine desire to accept a person for who they are and all their unique qualities and loving them for their "oneness". Keep being Olga! :) Keep the posts coming!!!

  4. Interesting observations!

  5. I wonder if it was the blogging at work that lost your parking priveleges ;) I have been thinking about alternative means of transportation to work as well, but it probably won't happen this next year.

  6. Great post, Olga! So much to think about. So much of it SO true. Thank you for sharing!

  7. Love the rant, keep them coming. Love is work but worth all the effort. I agree that we work effortlessly on our bodies, health, financial situation, etc but not as must on the most important things.