Thursday, January 5, 2017

Oh How I Wish I Could Smoke

     I gave up lovely, wonderful, emotion suppressing, aromatic cigarettes. Irritable and annoyed are the new normal. There’s nothing for it until these crap feelings go away or I start again. Going all black and white about it is a little dramatic, but quitting is like being full of straw and the sky going dark with flying monkeys. I need an imaginary friend because I'm not fit for a real one. If real friends smoke I will beg, borrow or steal their cigarettes. Except quitting this time is different. I actually committed to it full time rather than just taking a break. I even gave up the substitutes like gum and vapor, which kept me hooked. I cheat with appropriately named Cheetos, but diet is another story. It’s too easy to slide from one addiction to another unless the internal flying monkeys are finally tamed. Those creepy damned feelings that cigarettes knock to their knees must be spoken to as if they are hurt, crying children. The relieving bliss of cigarettes must be replaced with sympathy and understanding. But how?
The big question; “What do cigarettes resolve?” begs an answer.  
     They take the edge off fear. So each of us who really want to put the hammer down on smoking must face fear and that is different for everyone. We each have a pile of scary stuff that is ours alone. It’s the stuff of good sci-fi, myths and bad ass legends. Burning the inside of our throats and lungs is more agreeable than marching into the cave to slay a dragon.
     I don’t think cigarettes have to hurt people. Certainly there are people who live to be 100 or more who smoke every day. Believing cigs hurt you is more likely that they will because the power of our minds can alter our health and longevity. That said, I have more stamina when I don’t smoke and I am more interested in facing addiction than being party to it. It’s the next level of growing, for me. No judgement about smoking in general. I’m writing this to help myself sort out what it is about smoking that is so hard to give up. And maybe someone with a little more insight will write to me about how they did it and stuck with it. If you are not able to respond to this blog please write to me personally at cb2c  @  yahoo.  com,  without the spaces of course.
     I can easily cajole myself into smoking and I’m not 100% sold that everyone should give it up. Like any other substance that relieves the shit in life like loneliness, no confidence and boredom it might actually be better to have some relief for a time than deal with the alternatives. Crippling life sucking problems like depression, zeal, bloated egos and guilt are certainly calmed with a variety of legal and illegal substances. Buying time with drugs, alcohol and or smoking is not always a bad choice. I’m certain their use kept me from harm for a while. But I decided it is time to face the fears that limit my life and it could be something as simple as my soon to arrive 60th birthday. As long as I’m typing, painting, riding my bike, taking pictures or hanging out with adamant non-smokers I’m safe. Sleepless nights of worry sure make cigarettes appealing. One more day, I can do it just one more day. To my friends who blissfully smoke, I am green with tedious envy. Enjoy one for me.
     Meanwhile I will spin in circles and waste time trying to figure out why I want to smoke so much. It’s a plan at least.   
portrait of a non smoker

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

About The Buddha Project 100

     We began The Buddha Project 100 in 2012, not long after a chance meeting. Our collaboration came about gradually. It began when Arthur Deak asked if I would show him painting techniques he particularly wanted to learn. We painted on the same canvas to more easily see what each other was doing. We finished and started another as we work well together. After a few more paintings were completed I suggested we do 100 since I loved what we could accomplish together. Two pairs of critical eyes, our combined life experiences and varied skill sets give us the ability to see this ambitious project through. Quickly we moved to larger canvases and kept going. 

     Learning new techniques and experimenting with styles and mediums is part of the project. We begin with photographs that we take in quiet places such as museums, gardens and the natural world, and search our photo files looking for images to use as a starting point. Some we manipulate on the computer, others transform as we work on them. So far we have completed twenty seven pieces. 

     The best advice I can give about collaborating is to not take things personally. Trust matters. Equal effort expended is important. Worrying about how much it costs in time and money is like asking the wolf at the door to host a poker game in your brain and gamble with your emotions. Leave the beast outside and get to work. 

      Our project is both self-funded and supported by offering quality reproductions of the paintings for sale. It is truly wonderful when artwork done for the love of it sells. It means more creative time and fewer applications to truck driving schools in a midnight panic. Artists would eat paint if they could, instead I’m including a price list for the original paintings and prints that will be on exhibit at the Napa Library from September 1-31, 2016. The Buddha Project 100 is possible due to the generous support of family and friends. We love feedback. Your thoughts are appreciated and taken to heart.