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"There is something SO important about not wanting." Carlo Delumpa, Portland Photographer

 

Carlo said the above statement when he and I met at his shared studio, an old warehouse on the East bank of the Willamette River. We'd been talking and getting acquainted, something he valued as a precurser to photographing an artists works. He was going to photograph my prayer flags.

 

We'd been talking about carrying "stuff" through life as artists. Stuff we needed but also stuff we wanted. And we reflected upon how this forces us to long for larger spaces or convenient storage. I relayed the story of talking about just this subject last fall with my friend Carol when we were feeling nostalgic for times when we felt fully ALIVE. Last fall, and I told Carlo at this time, I'd mentioned that the times I felt most alive seem to have been the times when I could fit all I owned into my car and drive it across country to move where I would. Carol had talked about coming back from Nicaragua in the 70s with only a dime to her name (the basement where she'd stored her possessions while gone had flooded and everything had been destroyed). I related to Carlo that this had been the discussion last fall that led me to carrying a Fear Chair for 51 days. 

 

I felt VERY alive for those 51 days too.

 

Back to Carlo and I in the studio in Portland in January, ... we talked about that dichotomy of living light being the time when one might be most likely to live FULLY. To LIVE. And then we paused and he said, almost as an aside, "There is something SO important about not wanting." At the time this comment seemed in a way simply a small observation. Yet something in me knew I needed to store it away. Something in my middle knew it a was profound Truth for me. So I wrote it down. And I've kept it at the front of my daytimer ever since.

 

Today it haunts me.

 

I found out last night that I did not get in to the show I'd submitted to last month. It had seemed such a spectacularly perfect fit for my prayer flags. It felt synchronous from the moment I found the call to artists. This and life has been so challenging of late, the prayer flags getting out into the world seemed something so hopeful. It feels like this show was my only dime. 

 

So, now, am I simply left wanting? It seems so. The initial loss feels like a blow. Like my already broke open heart just got pushed aside. It's not a pretty picture if you think about it. And it doesn't feel very good either. But I've had to live with it for the day. Ever  since I read the rejection email last night.

 

What do I Fear? There are all sorts of superficial little fears, not being good enough, never being good enough, not ever showing, blah blah blah. But what do I REALLY Fear? I Fear that my work doesn't matter and ultimately that I don't matter. I think about it and, driving across country alone with all my worldly possessions packed in was easy. It was easy because I MATTERED. No one could do that but me: no one could do that for me or with me. I (ME, I) LIVED my life at those times. Unencumbered by expectations of others or even myself, to measure up. I drove my life and I listened to the directions that called me. I didn't WANT anything. I just lived. And without ME, there was nothing. No car full of MY stuff. No change of direction. No story. I certainly couldn't have articulated this at the time, but it is very clear now, I (ME, I) mattered greatly.

 

Now? Do I matter? I am at a transition time in life again, much like those times when I packed the car and drove to some new home. But I have a house. A studio. I have stuff that would fill trucks. I have a body of work that could fill a car. What story am I telling? What directions call to me? I WANT to matter to the world. I want my work to matter. Yet, there is something SO important about not wanting. 

 

It haunts me.

 

Am I, is my art,... enough?