Saturday, February 26, 2011

Patti Smith, "Just Kids" : My Reaction

Where to begin...when love, art, fame direct a life forward. Ironically, Patti Smith appeared to be in the background, a source of strength for Robert Mapplethorpe, yet all the while drawing and writing and developing the diverse facets that would lead finally to a synthesis of her talents to create a unique art form and ultimately fame. And now, gracious as she has always been, she elevates Robert through her tribute, explaining the man, his motivation, his charm and draw for her, the rationale and vision of his work.

We are ultimately the path we chose to walk. Patti chose the path that was not in any way easy; she couldn't help herself. It seemed destined that she and Robert's paths would converge. Easy at first: the newness, the youth, the electricity of New York in the 60's; there were many art icons to aspire to and breakouts to fame and fortune were all around. It was strangely fashionable to live the life of the beatnik artist, literally starving in the name of art! But no mistake, starving is pitiful stuff; scrounging for food in the back of restaurants does not make for glamour. Still, Patti writes with love in her heart, caressing those years because they were tinged with the excitement of love and of possibilities and the discovery of the self.

Such a gracious memoir, filled with giving and praising and tribute! That is what would bond two people together, people who both were searching for their own way to fulfill what each knew was inside of them. It is not really an unconventional love, but a true one, that allows each person their own space to grow into what they are capable of being...what they want to be...what they feel their nature is telling them.

Patti Smith has been following her heart and for her thankfully, it has lead to family and the appreciation of the talent that was developed through an uninhibited search. Drawing lead to poetry lead to song, and the envelope of performance was always there. Joy and ease in performing is such a gift, adding that immediacy of art and the audience's part in the process.

Later in life, it may seem that all roads pointed to the result, but the growing up and in to it is foggy and often filled with obstacles that, funny, you don't always think you remember, once you reach a desired goal. But people do can hear the edge in their voice, sense it in their visual art, the struggle, hunger, desire, love, the desperate need to create in order to be whole.

Robert's humanity and yearning to be remembered and achieve fame like his beloved Andy Warhol, grew stronger with Patti, who was his source of strength in life. She is a window to his motivation, and while his impulses eventually overtook him and robbed him of life, his work speaks of a stronger power and innovation that is groundbreaking. "Did Art get us?," he asks on his deathbed.

Thankfully, one of this symbiotic pair is here to tell the story, and make art of the story, which is the gift of this book to all. It is amazing how Patti Smith succeeded, without succumbing to the vices that dragged down so many of her contemporaries. In a loving and informative way, "Just Kids" gives a powerful portrait
of the struggle of artists to live the life, while trying to earn a living, break into museums and galleries, be recognized and gain appreciation from others for what they do - which is to speak of what is happening in their 'now' in the language of art.

Patti always seems to be going forward. On her own, her belief in herself seems to elevate her to the level of one who will eventually make her way to a place of grace...where she can look back and say that her life was hard but uncompromised and therefore well lived. To receive a National Book Award for this book that she wrote out of love is an achievement of a lifetime in itself.

During Patti's National Public Radio interview on "Fresh Air" - Patti said this about initially 'performing' her poetry:

"I figured if I had fifteen, twenty minutes on that little stage, it was my stage and I'm gonna fight for it." She noted that her performance was about how she and the audience "could both serve the night together."

Monday, January 10, 2011


So there it is. The answer. If it feels good it is right.  When you made decisions in the past, it was because you were thinking you should do what other people wanted you to do.  

And now, looking back, you feel those choices were what you wanted to do at the time. Today you know it is better for everyone if you choose what is best for you.  Make choices that respect your own wishes. 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

"The Power" by Rhonda Byrne

That whole concept of joy, and child’s joy, and how it should not leave! As a child grows, and has to  learn to behave- discipline, correct manners, obligations of school, how do you keep the joy? Parents use criticism, guilt, and other methods to control their child’s behavior. There should be a class in teaching parents, and teachers for that matter, to direct a child toward acceptable and reasonable behavior without destroying the enthusiasm and na├»ve innocence of discovery. Love has to be the emotion that is the most powerful tool. If the power of love can motivate parents, and teachers to guide the child, there will be no guilt or shame or ridicule or punishment. Only a light to the path of understanding. Methods should be developed for new parents, new teachers, and anyone dealing with children, to guide with love as the motivator. Each child’s ego will remain intact, free to express their individuality.

Once in a while, we encounter the fortunate child of parents who instinctively knew that raising a child is not molding them into a restricting set of rules, but nurtures the child’s own instincts for creativity and individuality. That child will grow into an open minded, giving adult, who fulfills his dreams and lives his life unencumbered by guilt or repression. This is the life we are all meant to live.

Life as fun is not immature! It does not mean we stay a child forever. It means we take all that is fresh and new about children and use it as a lesson for how to feel and how to think. Our joy, our curiosity, our enthusiasm, our sense of excitement, should carry through and just expand as our world widens with new experiences, new relationships, new endeavors. We should be doing in adulthood what we did as children if we were given the chance…to play, to learn, to enjoy, to share with open enthusiasm, all that is meaningful to us. 

Our feelings about what we are doing are our guide to what is good for us. These feelings, which we trusted as children, are just as reliable for us as adults. They are the basis on which we should be making decisions. Understanding what makes us feel good will free us from worry and hurt and save us from anger and wrong turns. Trusting our feelings is the best way to know ourselves, and to surround ourselves with the people, jobs, foods, pastimes that will fulfill our souls. Anything that does not feel good in our heart is not good for us. And it is the best indicator of how to make decisions.

Life is a gift and every day is an opportunity to unwrap the joy that is ours to have. Feelings and love go together and nothing else is really as important. Any time something comes between, just return to feelings and love.