Friday, December 5, 1997
Yesterday, finally, my last week or so of torture was rewarded.
I made great headway on the left third of this landscape, the most complex part of the image. I dealt with areas I had avoided since the painting’s infancy.
It is only going through the torture that allows one to progress to the moment of renewed interest, energy and excitement over an image.
I do have that stubbornness which makes me determined to “win” over an unfinished painting, when I really want to start five other new images and experience the rush of freedom one feels at the beginning of a painting, before any constraining choices have been made.
I wonder if Ellis realizes why it’s so important to me to watch “All My Children” at 2:00 each afternoon. I watch it in a detached, analytical way in which I can visualize the actors laughing together with their scripted enemies every time the camera cuts away. And I laugh uproariously at the awkward acting and props and set — like last week when Tim locked himself in a meat locker and had to pretend to fall in such a way that he hurt his ankle. It was SO fakey, I can’t believe they didn’t reshoot. Supposedly a few empty boxes falling on his head caused him to break his ankle. And then! He was supposed to see a rat — and it was clearly a stuffed animal or a puppet. At the moment the camera panned the rat, whoever was supposed to be moving it had the rat lying completely on its side with its legs moving! I was roaring! Someone involved in the production must have finally objected, because the next day, when they showed a similar scene, they did use a real rat. All I could think of was how cute it was, and I wondered if it was the borrowed pet of a stage crew member or one of the actors. I could write Soap Opera Digest and say I was wondering which, if any, of the characters on AMC owns pet rats in real life — and they’d think I was a nut case.
Besides the fact that I get a vast kick out of watching it, and I need food by that time, the main purpose AMC serves is as a reward for having spent a number of hours in my studio — usually six if I meet my goal of starting at 8:00 a.m. Sometimes it’s so hard to focus my mind and paint that I’m aware of the time every second, and I have to force myself to keep applying paint (while always thinking three steps ahead) hour by hour until the magic hour of 2:00 arrives. Only then can I go in the warm house, eat soup and crackers and cheese, and leave my painting pressures outside the door to Pine Valley for one blessed hour.
Tuesday, December 23, 1997
I read part of the book we got for Ellis’ mom last night — Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s last book, The Wheel of Life, A memoir of Living and Dying.
It’s so sad. She’s had strokes, is totally dependent, has had a really hard life. I was interested in the last part of the book, in which her experiences get more and more “way out” and mystical. She meets spirit guides through a channeler who apparently tries to kill her and burns her house down. She astral projects once and then goes to Robert Monroe’s institute in Virginia. I have thought about going there since I first read his books in the ’80’s, but I never have. She lives life to the fullest. She decides to go, and goes.
She had an intense, intense experience there — feeling the pain of 1,000 of her patients’ dying.
I’m so glad I read the parts I did. What a good reminder that thee only purpose of our lives is to love unconditionally.
She says that the question we are all asked after death is, what service have you rendered?
Kubler-Ross reports on the four phases thousands of people have reported experiencing during near-death crises. She says, about the fourth stage:
“In this phase, people reported being in the presence of the Highest Source….in this state, people went through a life review, a process in which they confronted the totality of their lives. They went over every action, word and thought of their lives. They were made to understand the reasons for every decision, thought and action they had in life. They saw how their actions affected other people, including strangers. They saw what their lives could have been like, the potential they had. They were shown that everybody’s life is intertwined, that every thought and action has a kind of ripple effect on every other living thing on the planet. I interpreted this as being heaven or hell. Maybe both.”
She goes on to say,
“Every person goes through struggles in life. Some are great and some do not seem so important. But they are the lessons we have to learn. We do that through choice. In order to have a good life, and thus a good death, I tell people to make their choices with the goal of unconditional love, by asking, “What service am I rendering?”
Ultimately, each person chooses whether he comes out of the tumbler crushed or polished.”