It’s my birthday week – not any old birth-anniversary year-end, but the end of several very important long term cycles: e.g. the end of my 7th year in Guardia and the start of my 3rd decade as a working artist.
The end of one cycle and the beginning of another is always a potent gateway: it’s the place where we can consciously decide ‘okay, that was interesting – now what am I going to do?‘
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We get to look back at what worked and what didn’t work, and to shift a gear, clear out clutter, put things in order, before entering the next, new phase with fresh eyes and clearer perspective.
If we’re conscious about entering that new phase, we can embrace the more positive aspects of ourselves and what’s waiting to be claimed as ours, and we can decide what’s no longer needed, or what isn’t serving our highest self.
As I grow older, I love it: changing, maturing, ripening. There are such riches in having done work, and reaping the joy of it being finished. And in having kept the creative flow open, and now having it rush happily, more consistently through me. In having made all the sacrifices to stay true to myself, and having worked so long to make my house sacred – and now settling into this life, this house, this work, as truly mine.
Suddenly, my life is pure luxury: with just a tweak and a tuck – this luxury unexpectedly rolled out in front of me, like a vast silk rug from Persia, intricately woven.
In some levels of contemporary western culture, there’s a certain inverse snobbery around luxury and privilege – particularly in Scotland – a resentment perfectly justified, as behind it lies layer upon layer of cultural, economic, political, energetic, spiritual oppression and bad play… The positive aspect of this inverse snobbery, is us intuiting that the riches of our culture have been built on foundations of corruption and unjust power struggles.
In the everyday, this prejudice can manifest significant shame around us enjoying ourselves – the sense that all indulgence is saturated with such corruption, that it’s better to not get involved.
This stance kept me from succeeding for many years – decades, in fact. It kept me in a cycle of familiar discomfort, prevented me from making long-term plans to stabilise my life, and got in the way of really caring for myself. I didn’t want to be a part of a system, a currency, a way of life, which had corrupt underlying values, and which kept everyone in chains of fear and consumption.
I took this pretty seriously, and it took a pretty serious toll on me: I held my energy in, kept myself out of the world, kept my realm of influence small – afraid to cause damage, worried about perpetuating evils.
It all served a purpose in the end though: it meant that I came to a life of luxury slowly, meticulously, through humility and deep values, grafting on my knees, and without ever compromising vision or ideals, and without draining the resources of the world.
I came with consciousness to this lifestyle, and it isn’t a lifestyle of fear and consuming nor of addiction, compensation or overindulgence. It’s an elegant, sometimes slightly austere quality of luxury – and I appreciate it so deeply, because it is.
Last weekend I went to the market and bought a dress – it’s the most expensive dress I’ve bought in the past 7 yrs. It cost €10. It has deer on it – stags and hinds, which make me think of Scotland. It’s silky and soft and sits perfectly on me. It makes me feel like I’ve stepped out of Vogue magazine.
I sit in this dress, drinking my favourite (eco-responsible) tea, on my balcony, on an elegant chair which was gifted to me by an elderly neighbour. I sit there in my luxurious chair with my Vogue dress, and I take in the divine beauty of the view in front of my magical house – this house which is all mine, no loans or debts. All this, after having eaten amazing food which of my choosing, and which is readily available and affordable right near where I live… all that, plus I have all my bills paid this year, and money to live on for several months ahead.
I sit and ruminate on this, in my time which is fully my own, to do with as I please, and I feel like a millionaire!
I drink in this view like it’s a rare spumanti; in sips and breaths. It is so exquisite, and yet this is also my everyday: it’s there when I wake, and peek out from my bed to see what is happening with the light today. And it’s there when I go out on the balcony at night to see the moon, before bed again.
The mountain is so spectacular in all her dressings, in all weathers and seasons – settling into my heart and memory each day, weaving herself into my dreams and being spun out and rewoven into my paintings. And the mountain is a metaphor for all the things around me: objects and moments, atmospheres and sounds, friendships and opportunities, which absorb themselves into my energy like precious spiritual nutriment. This for me is real luxury.