As the old rocking chair continued making its grooved motion back and forth and I thought of all that had recently come to pass...how those tectonic plates of my foundation had shifted and come to rest in new and previously unknown locations I wondered. I wondered, did I have it in me to rise one more time? My life and story have kept time and space with ancient creatures and their multitude of representations. The Phoenix. Dragons. The Ouroboros. The threads of their mysteries are woven throughout the images of my artistic and spiritual practices and the worlds in which I inhabit. Like the ancient snake circling around to eat its own tail (tale), was I ready once more to let go of what needed to fall away and shed my skin? Like the magnificence of the firebird, was I ready to step from the ashes of what had burned and what remained into a new form and spread my wings to fly? Those who have known me or who have witnessed my story's unfolding have at times spoken about the colorful and seemingly dramatic rhythms of my life: the glorious rises, the plummeting falls, all the mysterious events that seem to move through the passage of my years.
In my newly found willingness to share my stories and thoughts with the world beyond my own skin in a written form, I offer my deepest vulnerability. Please allow me a moment for further explanation as to why it is important for me to say this out loud. I am a painter. As I mentioned in my last communication this identification and knowing, this act and process of painting, well...this is my terra firma...my solid ground. I do not question it. I never have. Whether or not a painting sells, or whether or not I receive affirmation or acclaim for the act of painting or the corresponding result in many ways is inconsequential. For me there is no choice. I was born to hold a paintbrush. I was born to swirl colors into formation and images. It is as essential to my being as breathing, I do not mean to say that I do not embrace or welcome the monetary benefit that could result from the engagement of painting. Nor do I mean to convey that when a person witnesses or is moved by one of my paintings it is not appreciated or beneficial. What I am saying is that if those factors ceased to exist you would still find me holding a paintbrush and mixing paint.
In this act, the process of painting, I am incapable of lying, withholding, or telling someone what they desire to hear or see. Painting is my truth. At times this truth is raw, beautiful, ugly, not easily understood (even by me), simple, complex...whatever it is...it is a piece of my internal landscape, my mystery, my magic, my soul, my story. At times people have suggested that I paint images that are more easily understood or embraced by a wider public. These suggestions have come with the best of intentions and perhaps a desire for those who care about me to have the joy and experience of seeing a lifetime of work begin to "pay off". I understand this logic and reasoning and yet I am incapable of doing so. To do so would be a lie and a coercion of some core part of my existence. I know for some this will sound dramatic, but it would be the beginning of the death of a part of my spirit.
So why? Why do I share this with you? Why do I share with you this insight regarding my feelings and thoughts around what it means for me to bring an image onto the canvas? Because the same promise and process exists within my commitment to sharing these written words. The truth is I have been writing for years. There are books upon books, pages upon pages of my thoughts. I have been asked by numerous and various people to share them before but it has never felt right to do so...until now. Perhaps it has always been too close to the bone.
And so...back to that glorious old rocking chair. Back to that moment when I rocked back and forth and I asked myself the question - Do I have it in me one more time to rise? You see, as I rocked back and forth I honestly did not know. This time it was different, everything seemed different. The driving energetic force that had always propelled me forward had shifted along with those tectonic plates. I kept rocking back and forth and a thought began to creep in. What if...what if instead of shedding my skin and feeling as if I had to protect that oh so tender new and exposed skin, the skin I did not yet know...what if instead of rising from the ashes of what remained into a new form...what if I chose to step fully into the skin that had been being formed around my blood and bones? What if I began moving from the inside out? Perhaps this seems easier for an outsider looking in to realize, but for me it was revolutionary. In that moment, in the rocking of the old chair, I understood that I had to think about it differently. This time I could not shed or rise. This time I needed to step into and inhabit who I am becoming.
The old rocking chair made the sound of of its bones creaking as I continued to move back and forth and I believe the friction of its' moving sparked a small and delicate flame. That flame flickered and I was moved. What if like a painting, this was an offering from my soul...what if I shared the experience of my inhabitance with you? You who might be interested in what I might have to say. In that moment I made a decision to fully inhabit my skin and a commitment that I would share what I had been previously unwilling to do so.
Here is my promise to you whose eyes are moving over the formation of these words - I will be honest and I will paint now not only with images but also with words the picture of my soul. The same rules will apply...I will not make a portrait of myself that is easier for the masses to embrace or one that is an inaccurate depiction of who I am or understand myself to be, I offer you me, as honestly as I am capable of seeing myself as I begin consciously inhabiting the skin around my blood and bones. I have always believed that we grant each other permission. What do I mean by this you might ask. Well, I believe that the more capable you are of being truly and authentically who you are and the more you live or inhabit this authentic truth, the more you allow or give permission for others to do the same. What I have to say and what I will write is in many ways an invitation and one I offer with and in the deepest of love.
So...it is time for us to pull up our beautiful, old, creaking rocking chairs and let us sit side by side. Let the stories begin.
Heather J Geoffrey