Painting with white and black as colors for walls in my son’s room

His choice that I agreed with to paint.

Atop a walk board slung between two ladders, having applied two coats of white and and seeing that a third coat will be required while thinking I now understand how a canvas painted only white can be considered art.

Now days that trope is cliche but at the time it held currency in the art world.

I can just imagine at the time that monochrome painting offered an examination of values changing across a surface, the expressivity of texture and nuance.

Here I am lost in the painting of a wall.

What is my true self before I was born?

It is said we should repeat this question a thousand even ten thousand times a day.

I can hold to such ideas. They resonate.

Another question comes to mind: why throw baby Jesus out with the bathwater?

To me it is remarkable that a man could be created from another man’s imagination to write that Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground before speaking: Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.

Does it matter if Jesus is the son of God?

For me it doesn’t come into question; in fact, I leave off asking that question: Jesus is enough unto himself.

Just like Gandhi, or Martin Luther King Jr.- men whom followed after truth.

What is my true self before I was born?

What does it mean to be philosophical?

I read a quote this morning from Peter Singer:

It is better to consider philosophy as a method of inquiring into very fundamental questions that do not yield to the methods of science. In the Western tradition, since the time of Plato, this method can be characterized by a form of relentless questioning, in which the answer to one question only leads to a further question, and so on, and on and on. Readers of Plato will know what I mean. And so will parents of small children. Do some of us as we age just stop asking questions?

Why does daddy hit Moma?

Science fells to give an answer but a child will only wonder at the agency of man against another and will begin to form a point of view based upon questioning.

Why can’t I play in the street?

Because you will get ran over, it’s not safe- there are cars driven by people bent on getting from point a to point b.

The above is an example of indoctrinating fear into our children.

To add value to the inquiry would require addressing the child to find the answer: Why do you think you cannot play in the street?

Why do I have to go to bed when everyone else is up?

Because I say so…because I believe that your faculty to make good decisions has not been fully developed…because this is a dictatorship and you will do as I say.

What is a dictatorship?

It’s me telling you to go to bed.

I don’t want to.

We all must at one point do what we don’t want to…

Why? Why must we do what we don’t want to?

That child’s reasoning is the birth of philosophy.

How a Tea Cup Relates Us to Space

The Round Square Teaware By Chuntso Liu It’s much like how a man who sits under a tree and overtime people gather to hear his ideas as the beginning place for designing a school. Louis Khan, the architect felt that if one were to design a school one first must enter upon thinking around that man sitting under the tree and people gathering to learn from his ideas and to build out from that… He felt that architecture is the thoughtful making of space. I feel that way about design. In my house, when I drink tea/coffee, I do so from a juice glass. This habit is left over from having traveled through Holland where I sat in their bars drinking from a pilsner glass. The  experience was way different than drinking from a pint glass. This discernment stayed with me. The slender design allows drinkers to appreciate the colors and carbonation bubbles within their beer. The slightly wider top of the glass also helps retain the foam head of your beer, and bring out its true flavor profile and aromas.Whereas, in the states bars love to stock the pint glass because they’re easy to clean and simple to stack. They have a brutish quality that I would compare to shopping at Walmart. Turns one into a ruffian, at the least more drunk because the pint glass holds more than the pilsner. What would be so hard, if they offered a more taste specific glass? They do so for brandies. To the notion that began this text, how does a tea cup relate us to space? The coffee mug is a given in most homes though I detest drinking from one. It deflects from the experience. It invites chugging rather than sipping. Much like when one goes to a restaurant and the waiter thinks he is doing you a favor by filling your wine glass to the brim. He has just short changed your experience. He has pushed you into a zone where you must succumb to his demands and drink, or not. Call him back and ask for a new pour, this time a half glass- one that allows for you to swirl your wine so to be intoxicated by its color and aroma way before the alcohol enters the blood stream. Also, it will impress your date. At least give her something to chuckled about. This idea of a tea cup as it relates to space goes back to ancient Korea where the potterers would intentionally put a crack in a too perfect cup. That the cup was just as important as the tea. That life was rifed with imperfection. There is this drawing exercise to teach you to draw what you see not what you think say a house looks like. You are instructed to draw something with two stipulations: that you not look at what you are drawing while you are drawing and once your pencil hits the page you are to keep your pencil pressed to the page until you have finished your drawing. The resulting drawing is more closer to the thing than if you would’ve just drawled what you thought the thing looked like.

Chuntso Liu designed a tea cup after my heart. Unadorned and built out with a stub for one finger to guide it to the mouth.

RoundSquareTeaware-07 The design is utilitarian too. It keeps the tea bag from slipping away. RoundSquareTeaware-08

Space has no form but when we touch something hard we come to the end of space and how we relate to the experience informs who we are.

My Arty art

Truth lies within.

We become our neurosis.

My psychological well being is tied into how I’ve learn to adapt to my living environment.  To live we must occupy space.

My first apartment was bare down to the hardwood floors. That was my first experience of having space uncluttered. Space for the sake of space. Looking back on my raising, a home was something left over from the 1950’s in that we were living out a dream that Mad Men had marketed.

My mind had found solace that first night walking around the apartment with no furniture. I must admit I was also under the influence of Thoreau’s Walden Pond. Much taken in by his ideas when he numerated his chairs to three: one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society.

A sentence formed that first night that became a conviction: don’t be in a hurry to fill up space with conventional crap.

Also, I had witnessed many times when my friends would get an apartment and then go for broke trying to fill it up with things that their parents had modeled.

What it got down to was open spaced fitted with my budding sense of aesthetics. I had embarked on a path of self discovery initiated by the act of reading. No longer did the world view of those around me influence me. How could their plebeian points of view compare with the large canvas of John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath or even begin to touch upon the existential views on becoming. They were children and books had become the adults in the room.

Back to this notion what constitutes my art?

It enters upon my fundamental make up, this idea of becoming an artist. You are not an artist; you become an artist. Art in the true sense of the word is a verb. As a noun, it is a dead throbbing reminder of how inadequate we are.

At our core, we are inadequately prepared. From the moment we are born we are told what to do. Life is a crap shoot filled with winners and losers. Luck has everything to do with it, or not. I choose the not in that I believe we can make our luck. My art does not depend on luck it depends on me waking up early and applying myself towards formulating ideas that will manifest itself as my art.

I am existential artist born from the ideas of existential writers such as Albert Camus, Sartre, Dostoyevsky, Kierkegaard and many other writer imbued under the guise of becoming.

From Sartre, existence is not something which lets itself be thought of from a distance; it must invade you suddenly, master you, weigh heavily on your heart like a great motionless beast – or else there is nothing at all.

That has been my experience of art.

What is my art?

It relates to how I relate to space. Not comfortable with conventional notions of space, I find new ways to relate to space. My art is to transform space into the confines of my developed aesthetic sensibilities.

Even to design a tea cup for me relates to space.

Unsolicited Advise

Arriving at a place unknown we are force to ask others for directions, no?

Well, I found myself a little disoriented as regards just what is my titled role on this new entrepreneurial adventure.

We begin things we great bravado, never knowing that there are check points.

I knew I wanted to begin working for myself so I started an account on Thumbtack, a consumer service for finding and hiring local professionals.

All I had to do was to check which services I offered.

The only ones that interested me were interior design and landscape design. I, also, included home organizer.

Thus far, I have went to two homes and both home owners wanted me to help them organize their living space. Both had a common response in that they expressed feeling shame.

This concept shame is a familiar trope left over from my former profession as a substance abuse counselor. Here I was pursing a new path and discovering that things were very similar in that I was still ultimately concerned about people’s well being.

But in the present context, I was free of the corporate infrastructure of abuse. That is another topic, this idea of how corporations endorse a climate of abuse because of following an outdated business model. No, my business model would be of my own devise.

But staying with my original point, saying that you are an interior designer without credentials can land you in jail. In this day and age, if you go to someone’s house to hang a fan, you have to be an accredited electrician. If you do not have the proper papers to prove it, the authorities will hand cuff you and charge you three hundred dollars.

I have no desire to hang ceiling fans under the pretense of being an accredited electrician but I do have design aspirations.

Legally if I want to consult a prospective client about designing their interior, I have to call myself a home decorator. To be titled an interior designer, you have to be accredited.

Now to be a home organizer just need to roll up your sleeves and set your self the task of helping others de-clutter their home. But you can’t help others if your own home is cluttered and choked full of things. You have your own ambitions. Me, myself, I have spent most of my life informing my living space with just that: space.

Returning to my point, when we move from one profession to another we have to switch idioms. Every profession has its peculiar jargon. It’s not that doctors are so much more smarted than us, but they do possess a larger range of vocabulary particular to their chosen profession.

That’s where I am at this moment, at a place where I am coming up against systemic obstacles.

I want to be self-employed. But to be self-employed you have to be prepared to be financially challenged. There are all the hidden fees such as the cost of a business licenses, insurance, federal and state taxes.

To protect myself from legal infractions, I have limited my thumbtack activities to include only home organizer. I have removed the categories that would entail that I have credentials.

Though I feel in my hearts of hearts, that I can design an interior just as well as someone who went to school for ages to be granted an award that tells them they are an interior designer. Before you bring me to task, I know too well the shortcomings of being an artist: it’s partly delusional in that one has to believe in the reality of what one can imagine. Artists are people who have invested time in being imaginative.

Because someone can sketch your portrait does not make them an artist. That’s what my daughter told me, that was her insight but it corresponds with my ideas of where art is today.

With the advent of Marcel Duchamp, the old way of doing art was flushed down the urinal. Art has not recovered since.

And Duchamp was current with Nietzsche in that art was dead and like God had to be born again. Meaning that art and god were taken down from their pedestals and brought to a new place where we could decide what both meant to us.

We all want to be something so we give ourselves titles. In my youth, I was a stoner skateboarder. When I came of age via the written word, I discovered that I had aspirations towards art; that I wanted to be an artist though I had no real talent.

My former young impressionable mind had concluded that because I could not draw, I was not an artist. A passage read from a zen text changed my point of view; it said that one should pick one thing and learn it thereby granting one knowledge of 10,00 things.

I picked writing because I could carry it on my back. It is a portable art that require the least amount of investment. To be a writer one must only elect to write.

Over the years, I have learned that writing is not my talent though I can on a basic level express my ideas. It is not my art.

My art deals with space.

Working Class Hero

We want so bad not to be at the beginning of some great endeavor.

We would sale our souls- a life time of ups and downs- for a Warholian minute of fame.

Nobody likes feeling unsure though we pay a price by only endorsing feelings of certainty.

I am at the beginning of finally letting go of any pretense or ambition to work at a job that is structured to benefit people whom are corporate board members.

I know I can say that more nicely, or find expression that is closer to what I mean.

I am 53.

It’s like it all ends there, an avalanche of notions slamming me back to earth.

But just as well, there is a new understanding (an insight) that I am running out of time; that we are allotted only so much; that one either hangs onto a dream, an ambition or one lets slip away any thoughts that held you up, that smacked of an irrationality that most people seem to want to beat out of us.

I want to be creative 24/7.

That is a given.

Just as well, I want to feed and house my family.

I don’t have the option of not providing, it’s imperative but whose to say I have to make money by doing something that is not creative.

I can follow through on pursuing single mindedly a role I have defer.

I have set back and watched others choose to be openly artist. Coming out is hard no matter what you have closeted.

But once that door is open, the affect is liberating.

zen on a dime

Most things that turn out well have very humble beginnings.

Take my story, having worked for the last eleven years as substance abuse counselor, I now find my self disemployed from a corporation that called a last minute phone conference and release me and three other colleagues from their services.

I dealt with opiate addicts but that word dealt is all wrong.

By a long shot, it misses the mark.

Never in my work career have I held a position with so much power over others. Now before you take me to task, to say how horrible I am when I say that I had power over others. But I must adopt the right terms, or at least words that convey proximity.

I worked in a cubicle, an office lined with client charts with one those feel good quotes framed above my desk that began with courage is…

My job description centered on one task: to chart if clients were either compliant with treatment, or non-compliant.

This task had less to do with corporate benevolence than that federal and state law concerning methadone and its dispensation are set in place to both protect the client and to keep illicit methadone off the street. Back to that word power, when an opiate addict reaches a point they want help; their options are threadbare and paltry at best.

What started off as recreational soon morphs into a full blown addiction that propels people into a cruel unwavering life style.

“I don’t do it to get high.”

I trust those word I have heard thousands of times from prospective clients upon starting on methadone.

“I just don’t want to be sick.”

Not even close when you compare opiate withdrawals with something so benign as a food born virus. No, the terminology is universal; each client as if coached say the same things. Flu-like ach; the kind of hurt that cripples you; that makes you question your maker; the kind of hurt that has you reaching for the phone to get that one thing that will make you normal again.

“I just want to be normal.”

Which presupposes that any of us is normal- what they mean is they envie their old life a time when they were not dependent on a pill or a shot to even wake up. When they arrive, they are willing to do what they have to because at a point when you come into a clinic you have reached your lowest. In the field we say when you reach a point where you don’t have any options left, that’s when you enter upon methadone for treatment.

“Methadone is replacing one drug for another.”

After eleven years as a counselor, I see it differently: methadone is a about a lifestyle change. Addicts trade their old life style with its attendant problem for methadone. What divides the two is a narrow gap owing to the fact that for some clients their drug of choice on the street is methadone.

In the end, due to our present day lack of opiate related treatment most clients are helpless in the face of their addiction.

Methadone offers them relief from their aversive life style owing to the fact that methadone was concocted in a lab; that it has built in qualities such as the half-life that can overtake and overlap a prospective clients habits; it’s a schedule two drug grouped with heroin.

A client starts at a base dose and daily their dose is either increased or held owing to what their symptoms are; the goal for clients is to reach a point where they can go 24 hours with no cravings and no withdrawal symptoms.

At this point, they are normal. Far removed from the ups and downs of  working to keep dope sickness at bay; a client has the opportunity to recover a bit of control of their life now frayed at the edges. Statistically, people falter, relapse and sadly- over dose and die along side the other 40 plus thousand a year that die from an over dose of opiates.

Back to that word power, I am trying to understand in hind site what my role was as a counselor. I did what corporate asked and keep my charts up to date. But I felt too well that corporate was their to protect the interest of its board members.

Early on, I saw that these people sitting across from me were human beings broken on the rocks of something that could have been avoided. Heroin use to be something people did in urban blighted areas. As a drug of choice it was far from the maddening crowd. But along came a new paradigm in the treatment of pain; doctors were called upon by a well-trained sales team bent on moving their new supposedly less addictive pain reliever called Oxycotton.

A teenager, a mother, a husband, a brother, sister, aunt: all walks of life, people whom would never have thought in this world that they would be reduced to sticking a needle in their arm.

How harmful can a little pill be?

Jump forward ten years from my starting date as a counselor and when clients are asked what is their drug of choice: heroin. All of these new age heroin users began with pain pills.

Heroin is back.

Pain pills are no longer being pipe lined out of Florida via those infamous pill mills. It was a standing joke at the clinic to look at the headline of what politicians were allowing to happen.

They finally stopped it but damn it the damage touches upon nearly every city in America.

Crystal meth is known also as redneck cocaine. Meth dose not need to rely on a drug cartel.

Locals can cook up a batch in any given rural area in America.

Though pharmaceutical pills no longer make it to Saint Louis, heroin does.

It’s disheartening to even write this commentary.

But my point was to arrive at a place in my writing where I could establish a baseline upon which to build my future. Being disemployed was a favor to me because I would have stayed the course.

One of my colleagues expressed hurt because she felt we were not given noticed; I felt that too but what I asked them was: what about the clients; their needs? When they call to ask for help and the person whom answers the phone is merely a receptionist; not a seasoned counselor.

There are many ways to help people. If I’ve learned anything from the last eleven years, all of us is either in recovery mode or in denial.

Presently, I have chosen to be sober. Not that I am an alcoholic, but in some way drinking has never really done me any favors.

I am a point in my life where I want to be fully present. And I want to be creative 24/7.

I want to build upon my first client whom solicited my services at a time when I was going through the motions of filing for unemployment. I decided then and there that I would drop all pretense of filing for unemployment and put my time towards establishing and building my new business zen on a dime.