Life, Personal Process

The 7 Deadly Sins – A 2016 Resolutions Exercise

Music notes at the St. PierreWow! It has been a very full year–travel, music, friends, family and many creative moments. One of the things I am most proud of is that I was able to post at least one article here each month. Starting and maintaining a personal website was one of my 2015 resolutions and I intend to keep going! Thank you to everyone who took the time to contact me with encouraging comments.

For 2016, from the many possible promises I could make to myself, I decided to focus on resolutions I could commit to that would nourish me as a person and as an artist /musician. I started by contemplating my 2015 achievements, and analyzing my attempts at achievement (otherwise known as brooding over my mistakes and failures.) Then, for some reason known only to my subconscious mind (is that redundant?) in the middle of this thought process I remembered something I saw recently about the “7 Deadly Sins”. Now, totally sidetracked by this concept, I will share a few random thoughts on these sins to close out 2015. Hopefully, at the end of this exercise, I will have decided (privately) on the resolutions for 2016 that are best for me. Wish me luck!

2015 winter sparkle

In order to have a little fun with this idea, I did a little research and discovered that in his “Divine Comedy”, Dante listed the seven sins in the order below, which is supposedly from bad sin to worst sin, but really, such a subjective thing. In fact, in order to make this a little more secular, I am going to refer to these sins attitudes as “states of being” because “sin” seems like a final destination, and implies a horrible punishment (as opposed to a subtle personal revelation or corresponding consequence which would result from an unsuitable state of mind.) Anyone could float into one of these mindsets, but if you are creative you can work with it, analyze the experience and maybe even benefit from the trip. I think it is important to notice when you drift towards or into one of these states, to acknowledge it and try to avoid the extreme, that to me is would be the “sin”.

[2016 Resolution idea: “Use these 7 defined attitudes for something productive, don’t let them drain your creative energy.]

image15aSeven Really Bad States of Being to Avoid
(or 7 Attitudes to Bend to Your Creative Will, if You Are an Artist of Any Sort)

  • Lust — Apparently this is NOT the worst sin; who knew? You want something or someone really badly but it is just not socially acceptable or good for you personally on some level. What to do, what to do? I suppose you just have to lock yourself up in a cave in a studio, and create a piece that expresses your feelings, painting or song, poem or dance. I don’t think of “wanting” as such a horrible thing, longing for something propels you in a direction you might not otherwise have traveled. So many good songs are written about longing and lust, this unlawful desire; You Were Temptation springs to mind. [2016 Resolution idea: Write a nice lust-filled song.]
  • Gluttony — This one usually revolves around the over-indulgence in food or other pleasurable things that influence your physical body. I have also heard the phrase “you are a glutton for punishment” directed at me, although not recently so that’s good. (I’m happy that I seem to be choosing less stressful paths to my destiny.) I am picturing the “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” character, Augustus Gloop, in my mind as he disgustingly pollutes Willie Wonka’s pristine river of purified chocolate. Augustus is the epitome of gluttony because he consumes without savoring, he indulges in consuming mass quantities of food over a more intimate quality experience. [2016 Resolution idea: Incorporate some “mindfulness” into my daily routine, quietly focus on savoring sensory experiences and other physical activity.]
  • Greed — This one is a little tricky for me; I can’t think of anything I am really greedy about. I don’t collect anything. I like to earn money, but I don’t go crazy about it, as long as I have enough to cover the basics and a little travel now and then, I am very happy. I like sharing, almost too much. Am I greedy about sharing? Is that possible? Oh! Wait! Yes! There is one thing I am greedy about–time with certain people I care very deeply about. I look forward to hoarding all the time with them I can, to love them as much as I can, to listen and learn from them, and to take time to make sure they know how important they are to me. [2016 Resolution idea: Write to people I love and tell them why they are important to me.]
  • Sloth — Out of this entire list, sloth is the state I naturally gravitate towards. This is because I am inclined to be a “triple-P person”. Oh, you don’t know what that is? Well, let me tell you, that is someone who is a Perfectionist who Procrastinates and becomes Paralyzed. I constantly fight against this tendency, and I force myself to do things I don’t feel like doing at that moment because I know I will feel so much happier when it is done. I know perfection is not possible, or even preferred, especially when being creative, yet I still might wait and wait and wait for the perfect moment to write, to sing, to practice some new artistic technique. Then, you see, it is never the perfect time and so I become paralyzed and locked into this cycle of inactivity. And, what’s worse, I may even throw myself a little “pity-party” and exhaust myself further, dwelling on every little thing I have not done or did wrong. Such a waste of time on so many levels. [2016 Resolution idea: Get out of the house more – schedule and attend at least one creative event each month; no cheating, jazz workshops and other classes do not count.]
  • Wrath — This is not an everyday state of mind for me, this is a special state of rage reserved for those times when I feel powerless to control the world around me. 2015 has been jam-packed with horrendous tragedies around the USA and around the world. I am thinking about personal tragedies that stemmed from fear of another person’s skin color and traumas caused to groups of people because of religion or other belief systems. All fear-based, all sad, and my old limbic system (the fight part) starts to kick in and I want some sort of justice, but what can I do? I am just one person. Thanks to social media I am able to see at least 2 sides of these local and global stories, the horror of the acts themselves and the reactions and subsequent actions of people of goodwill. I can only hope that by being the best person I can be, and by weeding out any fears I may personally harbor towards people who believe differently about things than I do, and encouraging others to do the same, that at some time in the near future there will be a tipping point in the world. People of action, with just and kind hearts, will be in the majority and everyone will finally recognize there is only one race, the human race.  [2016 Resolution idea: Create some sort of artistic work that expresses the idea of focused personal introspection leading to race and religious unity on a global level.]
  • Envy — Oh yeah, HATERZ, I know all about them. I never understood how people can think that all the negative energy they are sending out through hating isn’t floating right back on them! So silly really, another waste of time and energy. About 6 or 7 years ago, I went to sing at a local jam session and I was talking to a very young drummer (can’t remember his name but he was very sweet) and someone walked by and I casually said “Oh, she hates me” and the drummer got all excited and said “Wow, you have haters? Man, that’s great! If you have haters you must be really good. The more haters you have the better you are.”  So, if I find myself envious of something someone has or something they are able to do, I try to figure out what it is that I need to do, what quality am I lacking; then I work on that. Don’t get me wrong, I am still envious of people with kitchens, and I will keep working on that. This special kitchen-envy probably won’t resolve itself until I have at least a semblance of a kitchen (instead of the stove and sink built into a wall that I currently struggle to successfully use each day without injuring myself or dropping food that I thought I had wonderfully balanced on the edge of the sink.) [2016 Resolution idea: If I sense that I am feeling a little envy, I will write it down in my notebook and then figure out what the real issue is and try to resolve that for myself.]
  • Pride — The start of it all, the ego, the “I am everything / I am nothing” that playground see-saw that I ride all the time. There is a need to be loved and accepted by others and also a need to be self sufficient. I am the only person that I know really well, and even after having said that about myself, I don’t know anything about my true self. What is going on in my subconscious mind? Right now I could not tell you because I am awake. In dream states I am able to capture a glimpse of what my mind is planning or analyzing or struggling with as I concentrate on my immediate needs like eating, communicating, working and expressing my creative impulses. It seems to me that everyone struggles with this imbalance and that the goal should be to stay in the middle of that see-saw and to stay as centered and as level as possible, never veering to one side or the other too far and thereby not taking one’s self too seriously or for granted.  [2016 Resolution idea: Make a list of my strong, weak, and neutral qualities and see think about what I can do to add or continue more balance. I will mimic the funny Stuart Smalley skit from Saturday Night Live and remind myself what I should be proud of in myself.]

I will be drafting my private 2016 resolutions shortly and in the unlikely event I ever forget that there is always time to do something fun and creative each day I resolve to watch the video I linked to in Envy on the word “HATERZ” and I will sing along with that policeman!

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!


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