“Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for.”
-Viktor E. Frankl
Anyway, I didn’t learn about transformation early in my life; it wasn’t ever mentioned in the schools I went to though it should have been.
Rather the status quo was emphasized “Do what you’re told, cross your legs at the ankles in Latin class, don’t question what’s going on around you, wear the right clothes, marry the right person and all will be well…. Actually that’s the slow road to Hell or so it was for me.My dad was very fond of saying to me “I wouldn’t rock the boat if I were you.”
Fortunately though, I had so many emotional problems in my 20s that after an enormous amount of therapy, I ended up in a Life, Death and Transition workshop with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross…
and there I learned about transformation. This was about transforming loss and grief into a blessing……and often, eventually into “good deeds for the living”
There have been many people for whom limitations, failure, loss, or pain in whatever form turned out to be their greatest teacher. It taught them to let go of false self-images and superficial ego-dictated goals and desires. It gave them depth, humility and compassion. It made them more real.
I saw many people, participants in that workshop begin to transform their grief
and many went on to create or form helping organizations such as Parents of Murdered Children. I went on to found RITES OF PASSAGE and I learned from the many dying people that we took care of.
The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of those depths.
When my son and I began making documentary films in 1989, they were and are always, in one way or another about transcendence, about going beyond limitations, about finding the light in the darkness. And so, though the subjects we chose were often difficult: AIDS, Aging, Hospice, Loss of a child, Prison Reform etc., every single one of our films brings a message of hope.
In our award winning documentary, Turning Toward the Morning, a woman with AIDS….
who lost her baby, her husband and her brother to AIDS wrote:
“IF I COULD RELIVE MY LIFE AND CHOOSE A COMPLETELY NORMAL LIFE WITH NO ILLNESS OR DEATH, I WOULD STILL CHOOSE MY LIFE TODAY WITHOUT A DOUBT. THE UNDERSTANDING I HAVE GAINED FAR OUTWEIGHS THE OPTION OF LIVING A NORMAL LIFE.”
The years went by and I moved to northeastern New Mexico. There are a lot of artists in this part of New Mexico and while I was working on a film screening event, I met Taos Pueblo artist, Jonathan Warm Day Coming.
I was looking for someone to create a poster for the screening and Jonathan painted the perfect image for the poster which is called The Awakening. He also created designs for t shirts and hoodies….
and an image for our documentary film, ON THE LAND
Over time Jonathan and I became close friends and he told me how he came to be an artist. He told me that his mother, who was a well known artist, died when he was little.
His father abandoned Jonathan and his younger brother and they began getting into trouble. They were drinking at a very early age and the drinking got worse for Jonathan as he got older. He was getting into fights and he was spending a lot of weekends in jail. He tried to get into detox programs but the timing was never right and then he said ” One day I just closed the door to my house and started painting.” The drinking stopped then.
“Art has and still continues to brighten away those dark moments that sometimes enter my life.”
-Jonathan Warm Day Coming
A few years later I met Jody Armijo [sometimes known as the Brown Piglet]
and I watched him go through a huge personal transformation through his art. He had spent many years of his life in prison and he used art as a way to come out of those dark times. You can read his story here: Light in the Shadow and the the Brown Piglet’s Art
“I want to give back and thank the Creator for my art that takes me to the secret place of life.”
I don’t know exactly what Jody meant when he mentioned ‘the secret place of life’ but I think he meant a place where everything is connected, where he feels spiritually connected. Art can sometimes take people to that place, I believe. It transforms the artist and it can transform those who view it..
I started this blog/website to offer and share inspirational, positive experiences and I hope POOH’S STORE will be part of that.
From Jody Armijo’s shimmering crosses to the ANGEL PICTURE to Jonathan Warm Day’s posters of The Seven Sacred Teachings, it’s all about Transformation so visit POOH’S STORE for a mystical, magical, transcendent experience. [I’m adding new things all the time]
This film clip below includes an interview with legendary artist, David Leffel talking about what art can do for people in prison