Reality: Creating a Daily Collage

The Author

E. Alana James

E. Alana James

Dr E Alana James is reinventing herself again! Coming full circle to the first love of her life - art - and bringing back to her images all the lessons of her life as author, researcher, academic and wife. Concerned mostly with the idea of images as vehicles for expression of the truth of our inner and outer life experience.

Have you noticed that everyone, even people in the same family, living in the same house actually live in different realities? For instance, in my household, the importance of certain ways of living life (such as organization patterns, use of time, etc.) vary greatly between us. What is reality?

I propose that it is really the tethers which hold us in place. If, we accept that we, each of us as individuals, have control over our minds and emotions, then what is we do with those minds and emotions ultimately determine our “reality”. If it’s a great sunny day in my heart, it does not matter whether it is rainy and dreary outside. And if I meet people who have been affected by it being dreary and rainy outside I sort of emotionally bounce off of them, not letting them affect me, because their “reality” is different than mine.

These views of “reality” came from the tethers our parents put on our spirits in order to keep us (at least in their minds) safe. That was our parents jobs. The result however, especially in a time like this one which is full of new possibilities, is to hold back our spirits from soaring. That is one of the reasons I support science and education. They help us break our tethers. And, as everyone knows who happens ever gone back for degree only to find that their families push-back on the changes these new thoughts are making in their personalities and actions, education unhooks our tethers. It also changes our view of reality. I work in and with doctoral students, emerged every day in “scientific” evidence. No one will deny that having data to support your claims about reality is like laying a trump card down on a bridge table. Data gives us new tethers, from what we build new realities. That is the reason and way that science changes our lives.

Are you with me so far? Can you accept that the way we think about our world, not to mention feel about it, determine our reality? If so, then you can probably go the next step with me which is to wonder about all the myriad of ways we can change our thoughts and feelings, and therefore have great affect on how our lives unfold. I don’t mean putting the ubiquitous happy face on circumstances regardless of their difficulty. Although I don’t personally feel that has a negative effect except to perhaps annoy the people around you, it also doesn’t get to the heart of helping us/me move into the space where creation of something different rarely happens.

And that is what I am really musing about today, how to move regularly into the mental and emotional space where I am the creator I know I am born to be? I started this life as an artist, and that form of creation still stays with me, even though I rarely face a blank piece of paper anymore. Today I am asking, “How does my mind create?” – is there an analogy here I can use for life creation as well? First I have to address that blank piece of paper – and if we use this analogy as how we create our worldview, then we have to be able to see our world without “reality” but rather as a blank piece of paper. Regardless of what I have created up until now, what will I create with the blank piece of paper that is my day today?

My favorite art form is collage, and it’s useful in this analogy. To work with a collage, you not only face your blank piece of paper, but you also bring to it elements that you have already developed. In fact you have many more elements around your piece of paper than you will ever put in the final composite that is that piece of art, some are there for color, others for image, still others for texture. So, if my day today is a piece of art, then what are the elements I have to collage into it in order to make it shine with all the magnificence that my creative spirit would wish for? Ah ha! Herein lies a few secrets that work very well for me (when I remember to use them), in which hopefully may work for you as well:

  1. I need to include elements of open space in my collage that is my day today. It is useful, I have found, for these elements in my life to be in my morning time. Therefore days work out for the best if I take some time to do yoga, listening to Kelly Howell’s the Secret of Mind Meditation, and maybe even Destiny, or Breakthrough.

  2. Another element in this collage of my day is useful is exercise. As I forced myself to ride my bicycle and town yesterday, even though it was raining and dreary, i.e. felt, if not younger, at least hardy. When I find myself taking deep risks being faced with potentials that scare me, having my body feel hardy and alive is a must.

  3. An element I love to include is creativity- writing like this, and, who knows maybe soon some real live collage, bring light areas to my day and are guaranteed almost to lift my spirits.

  4. Speaking of lifting my spirits – music! One of my students (also a woman reinventing her life over 60) mentioned putting on gospel music and writing for hours. I love Billy Joel myself.

  5. And what about the elements that scare me? In the collage that I make my day I can see these as contrasting dark spaces, something that every art piece needs in order to be interesting. It is true, I am an adventurous spirit, and I naturally keep a certain amount of risk in my life – much like I put absolute darkness in areas of my artwork. It is a great mental attitude to see them as the contrasting elements, but not something that will take over the whole.

  6. And what about the people that I put in my collage? My life path right now is to open up to greater qualities and quantities of love. Therefore there must always be people, and I must also be open to the elements they bring to my day, whether or not they were always planned or even pleasant. In art school we had this phrase “it was a happy accident”. We used it whenever the water in the painting mixed inappropriately and we had to maneuver something differently from our original plans. When the outcome was one of spontaneity and passion and other’s appreciated it we knew it to be a happy accident. All the great artists know how to use that to their advantage. In my collage of my day I look to the people in my life to help me open up to those unexpected portions of my design.

  7. Every collage, because it comes out of the fabric of the objects I put around my white piece of paper, always have a certain elements that move from one piece and evolve over time. For instance, I always sign the work with a Phoenix, often surrounded by butterflies under my signature. These elements remind me of the resilience I have in life (the Phoenix), and my ability to transform and develop new horizons (the butterfly). My collage also always includes elements of texture. I like rough spots as much as I like deep contrast. Therefore my day will not cruise through like a person on a beach with their feet up, reading a book. I will have areas where I have to work very hard to make it right. Laughter, when look at it this way I see that these rough spots, are just part of my taste, rather than something which should make me unhappy.

I’m going to use this analogy in my journal for the next month, plotting the collage of my day in my mind and orchestrating it to include all the elements that help me find life to be juicy and interesting, in addition to advancing the elements that create the new success I am looking for. I would really love to think that this analogy is useful for others, so if people reading this agree, and want to use it for themselves, I look forward to hearing the stories that evolve.

In the meantime, here is to all of us who are willing to open up the creative spaces in our minds and hearts and create new styles of collage in our lives.