Friday, October 26, 2012

Painting a Life

I decided to paint something.

I like the feel of painting--the immediate satisfaction as you watch the strokes hit the canvas.

When I picked up the paint brushes, I wasn't even sure what brush to start with. I just let the paint hit and if it was off balance, I'd balance it with another color. I had all the colors out. It started as a horizontal color exploration. I let the colors ease in from both sides. Then I started blocking, because I liked how the squares looked. But it wasn't right.

I was feeling really unsatisfied with my work. I had this desire to plan it out and make it be something, but it wouldn't let me. The painting had to evolve through chaos. The ultimate form had to arise from something else--without manipulation.

I thought about my own life. I would like very much to script certain aspects of my life and to dictate how it will arise. It's not that I don't work on my life--I work very hard--but rather than choosing specific paths that will give rise to a specific picture perfect life--I am dabbling in color, stringing random blocks of white, and ultimately seeking balance.

I decided to throw in a random blue triangle. Then a purple one. Then I decided to patch in some yellows. Then red. At about 9pm, I had this strange urge to paint something big and yellow above the triangles. I liked swooping. So I just swooped. And swooped. I swooped in the triangles. I decided I wanted to do something between the triangles. But I couldn't imagine what. I started to dot paint in purple, blue and green. I let the dots sit for a bit then took my thinnest brush and swirled. I swirled until everything mixed together in this circle. Then I swirled in white. Then I dabbed the sides with red clouds.

There was no design. I simply followed the pattern as it emerged. This isn't to say that painting with a purpose is bad. But I tend to live my life in this way. I want so much to be able to find a clear design, but each layer of experience builds on the other and gives way to a design beyond what I could have imagined.

I'm really happy with it. And my good friend has already bought it from me. I'm really happy it is going to a good home.

So here it is:

Despite the turmoil of it's beginnings, it ended up being a lovely painting.  Someday, I hope the same can be said of me!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Thoughts Stemming from Jekyll and Hyde

During the past few days I saw two very different productions of Jekyll and Hyde.

I feel like the opportunities to see both productions so closely together created an unparalleled theatrical experience.

The first production was Dark Horse Theatre Company's musical production, currently playing at the Egyptian in Park City. This is not a review--but suffice it to say--I was intensely pleased. The music was beautiful, but I've always found the lyrics of the musical to be a shallow telling of such a thoughtprovoking story.

The telling was as rich as anyone can make it--but you cannot undo the travesty of such lines: "Look at me and tell me who I am, why I am, what I am. Call me a fool and it's true I am, I don't know who I am." I adore this song because the melody is so satisfying. But those words! I giggle every time I hear them. It's like a nursery rhyme!

The colors, the passion, the music, the talent--everything was incredible.

But it just touched the surface of the incredible philosophical question posed by this story.

Last night, I went to Provo and saw Mortal Fools production. The space was small. We sat on white folding chairs. The stage was small. One man played Dr. Jekyll and four other actors played both Mr. Hyde and his neighbors and colleagues.  While Mr. Hyde performed wicked deeds with the abandon of a man who knew he was innately evil--his reason being unbridled passion--Dr. Jekyll was not perfect. He was simply reasoned. His wickedness stemmed from justification and shame. Mr. Hyde was unfettered by shame and so was able to love and be loved. Dr. Jekyll kept himself apart because of his pride and his so-called righteousness. His pompous separation from his wicked half--declaring that through will alone he could rid himself of all his passions was so fraught with pride and self-delusion that it struck me to the core. This production articulated that there are not two halves to us-- Good and Evil--but rather one tragically acceptable form of justifiable evil and the other obvious evil--collectively condemned by ourselves and society.

This life is a contradiction. It is wickedness and naivete to deny bits and pieces of our humanity.  While our passions must be controlled, it is because of our passions that our life has meaning. We grow in our passions and learn to find the joy that comes from true balance and wholeness.

The other night, I was utterly overcome with heartbreak. I thought very seriously about ending my life. It was a situational depression that overcame me and shook me. Maintaining the thought, "This too shall pass"--a phrase that has saved me a number of times--I crawled into bed and slept away my misery.

As days passed, I found myself enthralled with every little nuance of life. I giggled at the ducks pecking their way across my patio. I laughed at the chubby little neighbor girl in her sparkly Hello Kitty shirt and black tutu chasing after her other friends. I cracked up at the little kids running through the laundry mat.

There are bad days and there are good days. Both illuminate the other and make life rich. And we have our bad parts and our great parts. All facets of ourselves reflect in us and make us complicated and amazing individuals.

A Victorian, puritanical and naive notion is that in order to become a good person, we must ultimately destroy one half of ourselves. Both productions showed that this line of thinking will inevitably destroy the whole and is as wicked a notion as any other.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


I'm watching conference. It is on pause for a moment while I put some thoughts down.

Walter F. Gonzales just gave a talk about the need to spend time learning and knowing things through the power of the Holy Ghost.

Yesterday, I was driving home from Bountiful and I thought about how easy it is to create evidence.

I was thinking about an episode from Scandal.

In this episode, the president receives a photo (evidence) that leads him to believe that he would be justified in attacking an evil regime.  Later in the episode it is revealed that the photo was doctored.

I thought about this as one of the speakers yesterday afternoon talked about a letter released in the 90s that destroyed his friend's faith.  This letter was later revealed to be a fraud.

Elder Gonzales's words struck home this morning as he talked about the importance of building a foundation of faith through the Holy Ghost. In years past, it would be plausible to combine a testimony built on the spirit with one built with historical facts and images that hold up the seemingly fleeting "feelings" of the spirit.

Now as I find myself trying to define and identify my faith, I think back to moments where I felt the truthfulness of the gospel. I can see the hardfloor beneath me and the light shining from the kitchen when I knew that an investigator and mother of 4 had decided to become baptized. I can still remember the feeling sitting in the home of the Bozicas' when I felt the spirit say--"He knows. Ask him to be baptized." It was our first meeting with him so it seemed crazy--but he knew.

My faith is a part of me. It is built from quiet moments driving through the country side when I felt a conviction that God and Jesus Christ live. It does not come from photographs or well-crafted arguments--not that I am opposed to scholarship--but it isn't a foundation for faith.

So these are my thoughts.  I know it is ironic to post a painting of Jesus in a post about not needing physical evidence as a foundation for testimony--but I love this picture. The softness of the eyes reflects the humble compassion that the Savior feels towards all of us crazy imperfect people.

In times when it seems impossible to know who is lying and who is telling the truth--there is a way to have confidence in your convictions.

I should unpause the DVR now. Enjoy your weekend!

If you want to watch General Conference, you can find it here:
General Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints