butterfly-woman-watercolor-painting-christinaOh gosh, where to even begin?

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to talk about the basic philosophy behind Open Art–and, by extension, my own personal philosophy. Hiking in the mountains is especially useful for this. Trinity county is smokey from wildfires this year, and the hiking is not so nice as in past seasons. The sun is just as hot, however. When I am closer to civilization I forget that I am tensed against all of the people noise. It is not until I reach the “wilderness” that the knots in my shoulders start to unwind and my breathing becomes slow and deep. I feel my natural rhythms once again synchronizing with the world. This is how I remember who I am again. In this place, with the silence. The grand spaces where only my own thoughts, cries from the birds, and the white noise of the river echo in the day. On days like this you can hear the sun ring.

My thoughts go back to Open Art and to what it means to me. I keep going back here. I’m trying to live holistically, but that means blurring the lines between “work” and “play” until it becomes this singular object called “life.” A “holistic” life, this is sometimes termed. As I would put it more shortly and honestly: I want to live. I want to really live. I want it to be something. To mean something. But what does that mean in a concrete sense? That’s the question, right?

There have been a lot of changes in my life lately that are causing me to ruminate a lot on how brief life is and how much I want to make sure not to miss anything. I don’t want to get to the end of things and regret that I didn’t climb that mountain or have that love affair, or whatever. So if I have X number of years in which to accomplish stuff–what do I need to make damn sure I accomplish? What should I hurry up on before age or infirmity steal my ability to do them?

How did I still get to this age still wondering how to live? Isn’t this something you give up on at some point? Along with your idealism and your liberal tendencies? I think that you do get used to certain things. That you do make certain compromises. The world is the way that it is. To some extent, you do have to work with that. You can work to change the predominant paradigm, but you’re still going to need a way to make a living, etc. However, I also think that “giving up” is a symptom of sickness. I also think that the current “paradigm” or “system” or whatever you want to call “it” is designed to make us give up. To keep us terrified and pliant and for us to mindlessly follow their directives in a blind bid for safety at all costs. More about that later. Probably. I tend to rant a lot.

At any rate, I’m trying to figure out how to coherently explain Open Art Philosophy. Because it isn’t just about selling you some T-shirts, or even about teaching interested people about Homesteading techniques and networking with like-minded individuals. Giving it the title of “philosophy” makes is sound way more pretentious than it should be. It makes talking about it awkward because I don’t know what else to call it, but don’t want to sound like an asshole, either. I almost said “important” but to me it IS all important or I wouldn’t be doing it. That’s kind of the point. The ideology behind Open Art, the entire reason behind all of my different projects and affiliated projects is the culmination of everything I have spent the last 20 years trying to learn. In thinking about it, I can’t seem to untangle the journey from the philosophy itself. Each thing seemed to lead to another until Open Art had to happen.

Trying to sum things up in one way, I could say that on many levels, it appears to me that all sides of the political spectrum and a multiplicity of disciplines are desperate for some kind of change. What kind of “change” is of course as diverse as the groups which are crying for it. but almost universally, a deep sickness is seen in the way that we as humans are doing things. From my perspective, from the research that I have conducted in social and other sciences, it appears to me that the current way in which we engage in “work” or even “life” (and most especially the neo-liberal capitalist consumerist model,) is deeply flawed on a number of levels. These flaws, if unchecked, will and are leading to catastrophic destruction both for the environment at large, and, on a deeper more personal level, within the psyches of individuals. The argument is generally centered upon what exact form this change should take. At the moment I have no intention of addressing this topic.

However, It is my contention that social change must happen at the deepest levels of society–within the individual psyches of that society’s members on a person by person basis. Though this seems like an impossible event, it is not actually necessary for them to be in complete and utter mono agreement. Rather, a restructuring of the dominant paradigm (or world-view) would gradually emanate through all levels of society and restructure all societal institutions and works. Perhaps I am still a little naive and hopeful, but I have some ideas, or thought processes, that lay out a schema which could be built upon. One important part of this change is that those who accept a new paradigm must find ways to live that new paradigm while still living within dominant society. (Don’t you worry, if enough people start doing it, society will change on its own.) Essentially, this means actually living the values you espouse. This is the heart of what I mean when I talk about living “#OpenArted.” Both the end point and the beginning of Open Art. In setting out on the path, I think I need to start with The Big Questions.

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