The Gypsy Queen Painting: Of Happiness Vs. Crappiness
Many decades ago, when I was far more enlightened than I am now, I planned to write a blog I called “The Art of Happiness.” I guess I felt happy enough to think I was special.
My friends back then were artists, musicians, writers, dancers, and actors living in Northern California. Some suffered from various fringe-of-society ailments like anxiety and grandiosity, and a few were borderline schizophrenics (mostly the actors).
Yet somehow it didn’t occur to me that my opinion of myself as being super happy was in relation to the company I kept.
In reality, I was the happiest girl in a fringe-of-society Asylum of the Arts.
Many moons and decades later, I have reasonably happy friends. Here in the Mexican village where I live, those who were depressed have forgotten what they were depressed about, those with anxiety just don’t care any more, and the schizophrenics are now in starring roles at the local theater. Which makes them very happy.
And yet in spite of the happiness around me, I occasionally find myself feeling crappy.
I’ve learned that being happy isn’t a state that can be maintained for long periods of time. It’s episodic, like epilepsy or acid reflux.
It’s a roller coaster where you love it at the top when you can see the whole carnival and laugh. But then you realize going down the back side of that hill is pretty extreme and will likely involve vomit, tears and bulging eyeballs and you don’t care that in a minute or two (in dog years) you’ll be back on top again.
Age teaches you to smooth out the ride, take the good with the bad, relax and let go of the small stuff. And if age doesn't teach you that...living in Mexico will.
Anyhoo, about the blog I wanted to write.
I searched the name “The Art of Happiness” and discovered that the Dalai Llama had beaten me to it.
I’d already read Be Here Now, Edgar Cayce, Bukowski, Carlos Castaneda and dozens more, and had analyzed every lyric by Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon and the Moody Blues. What could the Dalai Llama possibly have to say that could beat that?
I bought his book and discovered that he knew a little something.
After that I launched a blog with a far more appropriate title for my station in life: “The Art of Feeling Crappy.”
That blog actually had a lot of followers until I stopped writing because I met a fella and fell in love and forgot about everything but him and his needs until I woke up one day and realized I had turned into his mother. And mine.
Which renewed my youthful fear of ever getting married.
It may or may not interest you to know that I never did get married, although I was a runaway bride a few times along the way. But not the kind that flees the altar in a diamond ring and a wedding dress.
I was the kind that realized she can’t spend the rest of her life going to church at 7am every Sunday with the in-laws followed by brunch at Cracker Barrel with the in-laws and then afternoons drinking at the country club with the in-laws and then dinner with the in-laws. Christmas with the in-laws, New Years with the in-laws, life with the in-laws.
The thought of committing myself to a life of (never) pleasing everyone around me was terrifying.
I left skid marks.
I actually liked Cracker Barrel back then because…grits. Google it if you don’t know what a grit is. And I love men. But if I was going to go to church, it would have to be to the sinners service at 11:00 when the hung-over congregation and burned-out single moms meet.
There’s no brunch with relatives afterwards, just donuts and burned coffee from styrofoam cups sitting on a card table by the bathroom. Kind of like an AA meeting but instead of the Hell of listening to a dozen people drone on about their past, you just have to listen to one guy drone on about how you are going to Hell in the future.
In the olden days, not getting married wouldn’t be possible because as an artist (who during my bellydance years wore coins jingling around my hips) who collected tarot cards like guys collect baseball cards and lived in a cabin growing herbs with my white rescue dog, I’d have been burned at the stake before I ever reached twenty.
Or remanded to a widowed church elder (who needed a beard...), so I could be saved from a life of sin and witchery.
But thanks to the sacrifices of many generations of women before me, I’ve been allowed to live in relative peace and even have opinions, although I’ve noticed on recent coffee dates that I should express them in 25 words or less if I want to hold a guy’s attention for more than the time it takes to finish a cup of coffee.
Anything more than that, their gaze drifts off to the right and their eyes glaze over.
Not to disparage men in general, it’s just that a girl has to have coffee with a lot of frogs before…you know.
Sitting in my studio one day I realized I was tired of pleasing others and working seven days a week and feeding that great parking meter in the sky which, no matter how much coin I fed it, always demanded more.
I wanted freedom. I wanted a life.
I wanted to reclaim that spirited young woman I used to be who wasn't afraid of anything.
And so I felt compelled to put brush to canvas, and the Gypsy Queen painting was born. She’s holding the Tarot card, “The Fool” which ins’t about being foolish at all. It’s about new beginnings, starting fresh, freeing yourself from things that hold you back.
She's not a fanciful fantasy (and far more attractive) version of me, even though we both have red hair.
She is woman.
The Gypsy (which is actually a derogatory slang word assigned to the Roma people so I use the term satirically) Queen is every woman who strives to shed her limitations, break the chains of conformity and live the life she wants, do what she loves, and be who she really is - a whole, free, aware, three-dimensional human being.