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Anam Cara – Life as a Box of Paints

Lonely Song

“a box of paints – lament for my da”

It has been a wonderful morning full of feelings. Feelings arise and feelings go. First there is delight. Then there is sorrow. Then again there is delight. I sit playing guitar in the early morning sunshine and the mail arrives. In the mail is a gift from a friend. On opening this mail I find new delight. I have been sent a magazine and on the back is a love poem.

I treat each of these feelings as a simple movement of energy without judgement.

It is I imagine how children experience the world before they learn to label their feelings. This is the time before they learn to add the labels “good” and “bad” to the free flow of their energy. Whereupon feelings become emotions and emotions become blocked.

I am drawn to lamenting. This word “lamenting” is the root meaning of the phrase “to care.” Anyone who cares deeply is by nature a lamenter. I sing songs of lamenting and am often moved to tears. Lamenting is an experience I love. I think in my home country of Ireland it is an experience many are drawn to via our history.

This morning I was singing a Joni Michael song. This song is called “A case of you.” It is such a beautiful haunting song. It has a line in it, which says, “I am a lonely painter and I live in a box of paints.” Sometimes when I play this song on my guitar early in the morning it reminds me of “My Da.”

This expression “My Da” is how people in Northern Ireland refer to their fathers. Father seems too formal. “My Da” has an intimacy and connectedness that may only be known to those who live in my country. “My Da” has a fierceness and protectiveness that is not so well embraced by the word Father. “My Da” belongs to me and I belong to him.

“My Da” was a painter. He was, for me, a lonely painter. Most of the time he lived in a box of paints upstairs. Now all around my home are the beautiful gifts of his lamenting.

I love the line in this Joni Michael song, which states, “I live in a box of paints.”

My paint box is a feeling paint box.

It used to have only a few colours. Mostly red for rage and black for loneliness and depression. There were other colours. Only these seemed to be fleeting. They were overwhelmed by the passion of rage and the non-passion of the others. Today my paint box is full of every colour imaginable. None of these colours I judge better than any other. This box of paints remains open for all to see and delight in or make judgement of.

To many of us close our box of paints.

Then we wonder why our life loses its colour. Some of our colours become hard and brittle. Others fade and become washed out. Often we have two boxes of paints. One we show the world. The other we lock away. This hidden paint box becomes our personal Pandora’s box.

When we show up with our acceptable paint box we know this is only part of our true story. This paint box holds only the colours of our life we deem acceptable to others and ourselves. We often feel something is missing. We might often find ourselves asking, “is this all there is.”

We hide away the real box of our life’s colour hoping no one will see us as we truly are. How could they REALLY love us if ever our true colours came to the light?

Your feelings are the box of your life’s colours.

Your emotions are the box you bring to the world. Your worldly paint box contains the selection of feelings labelled “good.” Then you sometimes ask where all the wonder and celebration of life has gone. You ask were the delight, joy and graciousness of life have disappeared too.

These are locked away in that other paint box.

This paint box holds the colours of your heart. This is the box that holds your original face. You were taught your original face was to be judged. It was to be judged acceptable or not acceptable depending on how you behaved.

Instead of learning to be all right you learned to “do alright.” You locked away your “being all right” and over time your colours faded. Later still you became separate and lonely for the life you loved. You miss the time when you and life were one and you lived simply as a free flowing energy devoid of judgement.

So many of us are “lonely painters living in a box of paints.” We are now encouraged to live in a box of manufactured paints. This is mass-produced by our economic and social values. Our mass media now tell us who we are to become if we are to have any hope of having our lives celebrated.

We love our celebrities. They really look as if they have a colourful life. They, we are encouraged to believe, live the life we long for. They are living the life we feel apart from. We worship them from afar and try to paint our lives the way they do. We become, not who we are, but clones of someone else. We forget their paint box is only bigger. Sometimes, if not often, it is very much lonelier. We forget we are just as talented, gorgeous, brilliant, funny and extra ordinary.

I am a writer. I live in a box of words. These are my playthings. These are my colours. I love each and every one of them. When you love a word it begins to metaphorically undress itself before you. A word begins to trust you. It begins to become like an onion. At a point when you think there is no more to learn you are lifted to “higher ground.” There comes a point when you and the word become one and there is even deeper understanding.

These words I love are what I call my “heart words.”

Often the most exciting are dark. Just as often they are full of lightness. They come and they go. I see their play as the play of God. They are not “good” words and they are not “bad” words. In learning to have a word trust you and reveal its majesty you have to accept there is only “what is.” This is learning to know without judgement.

What is your paint box or word box saying to you on this day?

Is this a day of delight and lamenting. Is this a day when you can take a look inside that other paint box. As Carl Jung said “the gold is in the darkness.” Are you prepared to look for that special colour to happen in your life?

Whatever colours you find in your paint box just allow yourself to see them. Do not go and immediately call them names. They do not like being labelled. They do not like being judged. They respond much better to silent listening. Do not be surprised if they look very fierce. How would you feel having been locked away without judge and jury on a fabricated charge of “not acceptable.” diamond painting tiere


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