You Talk Too Much!
I have noticed recently how much I have been talking lately and it has started to cause me to look at it in the most curious way. There is this sense of guilt that I should be different. That I should be listening all the time what people think is normal and apply it to myself.
It is important for me to listen to strangers and those I share this life with but it is also so weird seeing all the stories I make up about it. We can’t just be ourselves the way we are sometimes sold in the desire for eternal happiness. We actually have to refine ourselves and deliver a filtered version of our lives back to the world that supposedly wants the whole truth.
Many times I try and stop myself but before I know it I am excited and rambling on. My grandfather would do that too. He was the first person I could remember that could speak for hours on a multitude of subjects. But his stories were always fascinating to me. He was a boxer, a policeman and an accountant plus many more things. He lost a child when he was a young man. I loved spending the last years of his life with him. He was someone that had depth and range and not always saying the same things over and over again. I learned a lot about the possibility to live a contemplative life with his examples. He was the first person I remembered listening to me as young man. He seemed to care what this foolish teenage boy had to say and he told me that I was smart. He was the first person that in someway knew me and in a way he gifted me a path of something beyond the 2d world that most of my acquaintances and family always seemed so heavily involved in.
And yes maybe my narcissism has gotten the worst of me. But it reminded me of a story I recently heard on the radio about kids that are anti social from a very young age. Those kids according to this psychologist never get the right kind of attention because of their mode of being is not socially acceptable. Eventually the child gets older and begins to lash out more and more because the societal norms are telling him or her that these behaviors (sense of self) are unacceptable.
Maybe you can remember the first time that you felt like a separate self? It probably happened during a moment of feeling rejected?
The example child they spoke of eventually becomes violent or emotionally detached because society tells the child his or her behaviors are not wanted, causing the child to feel unlovable and a defense system or coping mechanism naturally arises. This repeated over and over again causes internal feelings of aggression in the child and inevitably children like this lash out at the world that rejected him or her.
I don’t think shaming unwanted behavior is all bad either. I actually think that it is tremendously important part of culture and beneficial to developing a society that wants to create more thoughtful and caring human beings too use discernment.
The story of the aggressive child being ostracized broke my heart. I imagined a string of children that I had met throughout my life. I felt their alienation and anger over the loss of acceptance and they still seemed to be hard wired for this acceptance into the pack that they could not find. Some were bullied, others became bullies, and others were abandoned and forgotten by the world around them.
I also thought of myself being ignored growing up never feeling heard, never feeling to be seen or truly understood. My dad use to tell me when I was little that children spoke when roosters piss. And me growing up in Miami I tried seeing roosters pee at a few of the cock fights that my dad took me to but I never remember seeing it happen and that was the joke.
When ever he repeated the joke it was my cue to shut up. And in a way those that so desperately want our attention are asking for just that– to be listened to. My father also wanted our attention and at times we just rolled our eyes and moved on. I don’t have a solution or a remedy but just a story of this that I imagine many of us feel in all varying degrees.
So what is true in all this?
Do I need more attention? I don’t think so… I feel that I have enough with the work that I create.
One thing I love about art is that the honest truth is said one piece at at time. No words just a series of moments on paper or canvas delivered to an audience and in an instant these moments become one moment. The viewer is absorbed in this moment and it is just color and shape on a wall delivering some transcendent mystery in this crude timeless object. And I see my own enthusiasm is not bad but excitement about getting to do what I love.
I could put all this bad meaning on it but I don’t believe those stories about that are true. I think my intention is honest and the technique can be polished. It should be tempered and considerate of others. And it took decades for me to figure that out in my paintings and I am hoping I can work faster through this concept in conversation.
Years ago I realized that as an artist I have a very short window of people’s attention and I have to use it wisely. So I created work that was powerful and shocking from the moment you saw it, but as I got older I realized that the work that I was drawn to asked for more of me in a sense. It was a little slower paced and caused the viewer to slow down and to be drawn in. There is always a possibility for a balance and when it does it clicks true in us. In other words discernment and how we deliver our message is something that comes with time and maturity it seems for me.
I am not claiming absolution for my thoughtlessness. I also understand by having to rewatch some of these videos as I edit them that it could not be fun for the audience and even the participants at times. So I will change that, but I learned a lot as I kept making these supposed mistakes which is to pay attention. And while I think my verbiage has modest value in the market of attention spans it is only essential to those that connect and need to hear such things in the moment just like art. I don’t believe in permanent truth but I do believe in being in the right place at the right time to uncover our personal mystery of why we suffer, live and love.
I even learned a lot in awkward and painful conversations just listening to people — they were all processing something too. They are needing to get something out and so am I, but I have to let people in as much as I can and that is the work ahead for me. So maybe I will seem quieter, maybe not. I really don’t think I have that much control of it but there is an intention there that I value — to listen.
I miss listening to my grandfather ramble on. But I thank him for being the first person that seem to listen. He was good to me and was never cruel.
I have not felt like a kid or young at heart in a very long time, and while the society I grew up in tells me all the time — do this, be that, grow up, I am just going to enjoy this moment of honesty. And still I will grow and change. And hopefully not throw away the wonder and vulnerability childhood gifts us with in the excitement and mystery of being alive.