Summerfair is a juried art show that occurs the first weekend in June on the banks of the Ohio River, here in Cincinnati. This is an art event I look forward to every year. The Sun shines high, vibrant colours abound and crowds of people explore the art, curious and happy.
The day I attended Summerfair this year was a perfect weather day, and I was delighted to enjoy the experience with my sister. I find that contemplating the paintings, woodwork, metal work, jewelry, fiber arts, feeds my Soul. After my sister and I bought bold, fun summer wear from one of the vendors, we stopped to eat lunch on a bench in the shade, overlooking the muddy brown Ohio River. The essence of this River has imprinted my Soul since childhood.
After lunch, I checked my phone and found an email message confirming an apartment viewing appointment at 3:30 PM that day. And here is where I lost it. Rather than stop, tune in and discern a choice between seeing that apartment or enjoying the rest of the fair, I lost presence and did not even consider that there was a choice. Sheepishly, I went to look at the apartment.
I only recognized that there was a choice when we arrived at the apartment parking lot and saw how dismal the place was. I did not even go in to view the apartment.
The refrain “Wouda, coulda, shoulda,” played in my mind. The rental price was a giveaway, had I consciously assessed the offering. The price was far enough off to indicate that it was a no, even before I said yes to the appointment. If I had the presence of mind to realize a choice was at stake, I could have declined the appointment and stayed at the fair. Instead, I flowed listlessly, like a log on the River, wasting time and effort. In consequence, I suffered the loss of feeling incomplete with this year’s Summerfair.
Michele Mayama taught a technique where you check in with your’s Soul’s wisdom by asking a question and then feeling through the soles of the feet if there is life related to what is asked, or not. I have used these technique for years and find it to be reliable. A yes answer had a response of upward surging, a no answer is flat and when our Soul or Body wants no part of what is being asked about, there is a downward pull, like a repulsed response: a definite no. Had I even stopped to ask if there was life for me in going to view the apartment, the response, I am sure, would have been no.
Instead, I was left with a deflated feeling of loss, discomfort and dissonance. I was upset because I lost presence and did not discern choice about something that held value for me.
I had obsessive thoughts about what I missed by leaving the fair early. It was a challenge to let that go. Four times I asked, through my feet, if there was life for me in going back to the Fair on Sunday, to capture what I missed seeing on Saturday. Every time I received a flat-out NO.
A few days later, a friend shared a Jeff Brown quote and a phrase from that quote resonated like cathedral bells: “The more embedded our methods of self-distraction, the more agitating the truth-aches calling us back to authenticity.” Truth-ache, this was the pain of it; I abandoned myself and had acute truth-ache because of it.
Moving through the loss associated with missing a sizable portion of this year’s fair brought flashes of what it might be like on the deathbed. I can imagine one might say, think or feel, “Oh, no I am not ready to leave, I did not get to see everything or have all the experiences I wanted to have.”
Interestingly, on my Facebook feed that day, someone posted a quote from Rumi: “At the moment of our death we wake up laughing.” This quote lit me up!
I have heard that the Dalia Lama works on his own death a little every day. I am not sure what he does, however, I imagine preparing for ease at death might involve practice with letting go, feeling loss, more letting go and opening to the infinite, unconditioned possibilities of Presence with each moment.
Every truth-ache has a learning where we go beyond the pain and sense the underlying need. For me, in this Summerfair experience, the identified needs are to not abandon myself, to stay present, and to feed my Soul more art.
I am returning to Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way’s practice of weekly cultural dates with myself. I am checking local listings for art fairs and cultural events. I am slow stopping to consider that each moment holds choice. When I die, I want to be full up and ready, not a moment of this precious life wasted through abandoning Presence, and choice.
Pat, sister, left, Aureal, right, on the banks of the Ohio River