handwriting/ chaos

Today's August Break prompt is handwriting, so I wrote out the prompt-quote from the 30 Days of Journaling prompt and overlayed it onto a very chaotic self-portrait/ archival (#wabisabidetourinJapan) multiple exposure. There's 5 layers of photos in there? Or six? I forget now.

Anyway, it's certainly chaotic. Which matches the quote by Friedrich Nietzsche: "You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star."

Here's the thing, I agree and disagree with the quote. Lemme explain. 

On the one hand, I think our monkey minds breed chaos. Thoughts = chaos. And the artistic impulse (what I think he's getting at with the poetic "dancing star") is absolutely chaotic, in that it is not easily controlled. 

But on the other hand, if you don't take charge of your thoughts, and your artistic impulses, you're gonna wind up a mighty monkey-driven person. That's where substance abuse, out of control mental health issues and plain old not-doing-well are gonna try their best to get their paws on you. And succeed, if you let it get that out of control. 

Monkey-mind isn't overly concerned with playing nice. It likes chaos and drama and it's gonna breed those things until you take charge. 

So as much as I love art, and that first-thought-best-thought, keep going til you drop mentality, I'm not gonna let my monkey mind rule me.  I'm gonna take care of myself. That means eating and hydrating regularly. Taking breaks. Being responsible for my self-care. Not believing my monkey mind when it is telling stories ("everyone else is better than you" is a classic monkey mind story: don't believe the hype. "You're better than everyone else" is also a monkey mind story. Guess what? We're all just human beings doing the best we can. Monkey mind hates that idea. Practicing that idea will calm monkey mind right the fuck down.)

This is what practice is to me. 

And yes, I come from a zazen (sitting) meditation background ("monkey mind" being a very chan/zen Buddhist idea). I'm not currently meditating (I go in and out of formal sitting practice), but my everyday practice is still zen at its core. 

Let the thoughts come and go. I am not those thoughts. I am not those feelings. I am not that chaos. I am and am not. (In that "I" am anything, I am, but "I" am also nothing at the same time.)

Finding the pattern. 
Finding the love in the grief. 
Finding the hurt in the anger. 
Finding the calm in the chaos. 

Yes. That's my practice. 

As much as I love the chaos of birthing dancing stars (poeming, photoing, arting) I know that the calm is necessary, too. Ying yang. Ebb and flow.