Life is a work in progress, honing it here, repairing that, sanding, polishing, impatient, trying to convince yourself and others that all the work is worth it – much like the shelves I just built, and THEN you have to put the books up.
I’m making an animation about people in need because it has meaning for me, because that is what I do. For the purpose of being, I am doing. Money doesn’t mean anything really because there are no promises in life and you can’t take it with you, and if you do not pursue what you are purely for the purpose of being yourself then you are a stranger within yourself. You will never finish “the work” once you begin, if you ever do begin to live, so you had better be honest with yourself about what you are and why you do what you do. If you do not live with honesty then you are left with a pointless, unfinishable, project on your hands and your life has no meaning.
But knowing what you are and what you do is only the beginning of discovery.
It snowed last night again. We were snowed in, so I got to sleep in a bit. I began at 12:00 with the ongoing animation project and it is now 7:41. Animation being very labour intensive, I got about one to two seconds done, depending upon the frame rate I decide upon. I won’t know that until I get all the sketches laid out in a drawing/animation program. I’m working it all out as I go along, much like life.
Within that two seconds a lot happened.
I listened to music: Yossi Azulay, “Tefilot”, two albums of prayers, very inspiring if you are into that. I am listening to an incredible version of Ana Bekoach, right now. It is supposed to be a very powerful Kabbalistic prayer for raising your spiritual awareness. Nothing “secret” or “forbidden”. It’s right there in the prayer service. Asking what “spiritual awareness” is I would have to say it has something to do with our positive ethical connection to other people. It’s complicated. It’s all metaphor, but metaphor is created in our minds and our minds give things meaning. The main body of the album is Sephardic in its musical style but, I believe, Chassidic in it’s approach. I don’t see a dilemma here. Things merge, they become one as you climb that ladder of self realization and cleaving to G-d. I’m no expert here. I am just learning relationships. You could call G-d anything, I suppose, depending upon your individual beliefs, and perhaps it has to do with personal meaning. The psycho analysts talk about the subconscious and dreams and the quantum mechanics talk about string theory and the beginning of the universe. Pick your metaphor, perhaps they all merge as you ascend the Ladder of Meaning.
I also listened to Jon Lord, formerly of Deep Purple, who has pursued his incredible orchestral organ work with 2008, Boom of the Tingling Strings, and recently these powerful Blues projects. Here there is a very interesting dilemma. I find the metaphysics of Judaism works for me, the ethical foundation of the Hassid has the power to purify and save me. It’s not complicated. I like their approach to life.
But here is the dilemma. Within Judaism there is a division between the sacred and the secular. And I like EVERYTHING! But the Hassid is supposed to be separate from the world so as not to be “soiled” by it. And this is where it gets interesting.
The purpose of the Hassidic way is to raise the world, to sanctify the world, to find the sacred amidst the profane. And to do that you have to be part of the world. Above are two rabbis who I really like. I have a thing for musicians, anyway, as you can tell. This is their idea of going into the world and raising a part of it, of sanctifying the secular.
And I’m reminded of the story of this other Bratislaver Rabbi…
He was a big guy. Solid. He used to be a US Marine, but who looks past the beard and hair locks? He had just finished Rabbinical school and was in Jerusalem for the first time looking for a congregation. All wide eyed and walking around on Friday evening, the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath when he sees these young kids, tatooes and pins in their faces, drinking and carousing and listening to music. He goes up to them, all smiles, and asks them:
“Hey, guys, I’m new to Jerusalem. What are you doing?”
One of the kids looks at him and says to him in Hebrew. “Go away you stupid nosey old man or we’ll beat the crap out of you.”
“I just want to talk to you,” he smiles.
Well the kid is on him. Immediately his Marine training kicks in and he turns the kid over and has him pinned to the ground. “Can we talk now?” he asks in the kid’s face.
“Yes, yes, sir.”
Well, he says he goes around on Friday evening with a case of beer on his shoulders and he talks to these kids. It would seem that some people might be more amenable to talking if you don’t begin by confronting their values, even if those values include drinking and carousing. And the Hassidic philosophy has nothing against music and drinking and partying, if done properly. And some of these kids come to his services on Saturday morning. And he has improved the lives of some kids.
G-d is light hidden within the darkness – whether you believe G-d is a creative force that creates and sustains the universe or something inside us that gives our life meaning. There is light and meaning inside Jon Lord and Ozzy Osborne and Alice Cooper and Pat Benatar and me. And you and Yossi Azulay and everybody else has value. I suppose we find that value by acting ethically towards other people, and we look for those ethical codes within ourselves and within the world. Which is the good stuff, which is the bad stuff, and how do you decide, and how do you separate it? And how do you read 18th century metaphysics which is based on much older metaphysics as a guide for acting in our modern society?
Like I said, very interesting stuff.
A meditation of music and thought as I draw nearly the same picture over and over and over again. That’s what I have packed into my two seconds of animation.
And now it is 9:00. If you don’t mind, I will have some pasta and then a long bath to the music of McCoy Tyner. And tomorrow I will add pictures to this blog entry.
Peace and Love.
AND GOOOOD MORNING! (a postscript)
I slept well last night. I heard some stomping about over my head last night, but it didn’t bother me much. He had things to do at 4:00 in the morning and was respectful. Everything is for the best. That’s what the Hassidic interpretation of Judaism says. Everything is for the best and approach the world with loving kindness. It doesn’t mean that you have to resign yourself to the bad things that happen. It means you should you should focus on the good stuff and take all the bad stuff as an opportunity to focus on the good and direct your life and those around you toward positivity, a good outlook on life whether you are Jewish or not.
So I rose like a lion this morning. Woke with these thoughts in my head, opened one eye and it darted about inspecting the light, then a roar (but not so as to annoy the neighbours, more like a stretching, bone crackling moan), and now I am sitting down to write.
There’s this fellow I really like by the name of Rabbi Nachman. He’s into music and stories just like me. He says at some point you have to forget all the intellectual dancing and go with your gut. Each to his ability and joy, he says. And he says all people are capable of great things and everyone – especially himself – falls and starts again and starts again and starts again, as many times as they need. See the value in people, even the lowliest, even yourself. And that’s refreshing. That’s redeeming.
And religion, our concept of G-d, whether the Universe has purpose or whether Meaning lies on the outside or whether we create it from inside us doesn’t really matter. Well, it does to us individually, but I should respect your right to be wrong – haha – or my own.
What does all this have to do with the animation project I am doing right now? I have had a hard life, and I continue to have a hard life, depending on my attitude. When I wake up on a day like today things are not so tough. But the darknesses are still there, hovering, highlighting the light and visa versa, making the edges hard and solid. Creating an analytical universe. And my life has value for showing other people that their life has value. Maybe I can open some eyes and change their ways for the better.
And, maybe – with the help of my storytelling, artistic, technical and musical skills – I can make this an entertaining thing.
Peace and Love