A while ago, a dear friend visited me over a long weekend, and as it usually happened, we had a great time. We laughed, we danced, we pranced and truly enjoyed each other. It was magic.
On the days that followed our parting, I could find nothing that could match the joy I experienced.
Eager to continue dwelling in the happiness of those three days, I looked for ways to replicate magic in other friends and other activities.
In focusing on wanting that person and no other, I inflicted misery upon myself.
Seeking to move through the feelings and transform them, I entered the studio and faced a blank canvas.
I didn’t have to look too far or too deep. I had fallen prey to one of the most pernicious obstacles on the spiritual path: Cravings.
In Buddhism these obstacles are called The Five Hindrances- Cravings, Ill Will, Restlessness, Doubt and Spiritual Laziness. The ego is their foremost ally and each unto themselves is capable of making an unbelievable mess of our lives and derail our most cherished dreams.
Cherished is an interesting word.
We crave (cherish) all kinds of things, people, love, objects, lifestyles, ideas, body shape. We live in a society focused on desperately wanting a new toy that we must own now!
On the aftermath of a major disaster, a former president urged us to “go shopping”, while a beer commercial counsels us to “stay thirsty” and millions of people camp outside stores on “Black Friday” to catch the first sales.
Why do we want something so badly yet fail to notice that once that craving is satisfied, we find some other want? Can it be that what we think we crave is simply a thought fueled by a deeper lack?
Seeking to explore the nature of desire, I sprayed gold acrylic on the canvas to create a rarefied background and fashioned a very large and tactile cup in the foreground. The brightly painted cup coated in red enamel looks hand-made as if by a child.
Sitting precariously at the edge of a flimsy netting tablecloth, the pretty object with its contents looks like it can tip at any moment. What oozes out of the cup looks interesting, cute, somewhat odd yet vaguely familiar.
Each of the sinuous shapes project a creamy, dreamy, fluffy, shiny and alluring aura that dares us: Cravings.
As you gaze at the painting, which shapes represent your cravings? Which illusory corner of your mind has given a name and function to your latest acquisition? Where is that ring you cannot do without? Can you find that yummy cake that you must have? The perfect body you so beautifully sculpt at the gym? The lover you want, the…whatever?
The slick and tough enameled wants of today will tip and fall to be discarded when we want what appears as better. What we really desire is happiness, love, and joy and think that these primal feelings will be delivered by something or someone outside of ourselves.
Cravings are a hindrance placing us in a precarious position at the edge of our sanity. They mask a desire we think unattainable on our own, when in truth, we can only get only more of what we feel we already have.
What if on this Thanksgiving holiday, we search inside for what we already have and decide to offer love to others instead of wanting it from others?
Can we notice an additional positive attribute in something we already own?
Can we share the goodness of the present moment with whomever is sitting next to us, and feel richly endowed just by sharing with them the bounty on the table?
Nothing wrong with wishing more. Beware, better and greater only appear when we feel grateful for what is great now.
Will you be happily eating turkey or will it be Tofurky?
I am deeply grateful that my son Adam serves both at the table and even more thankful that we will sharing the day with my grandson Tyler, my sister Diana and my niece Courtney.
Care to join us?
Original art and prints are available at Cup Full of Cravings.