The Therapeutic Value of Work

Crushing Anxiety, Hopelessness and Despair are your Christmas gifts from the present administration. Donald Trump is doing everything he can to make you, personally, the target of his contempt and social pathology.

Even without Donald J. Trump and his mean-spirited friends, you’d be hard-pressed these days to get through the Dark Hours of the Soul, and if those Dark Hours are happening every night and well into the daylight, you need what I’m selling.

It’s not just your ordinary everyday run-of-the-mill snake oil, either. It’s something you make yourself, and you control your destiny in this regard all the way through the project. I’ll explain:

You’re sitting or standing around minding your own business, when all of a sudden, a million bad thoughts and worries and fears come crashing into your brain, just when you most need quietude and calm, serenity and peace. No matter what you do, it’s bothering you and it won’t stop.

You need a couple hours break from Organic Life.

You CAN make the mental chatter and intrusions and worries and griefs and miseries go away, and stay away, for hours at a time, but it will take some application and you’ll have to learn a few things, but it’s definitely worth it, because it will give you some peace of mind for hours at a time.

It’s in this respect that I recommend taking a personal part in something which is commonly called “The Great Work”, but specifically in the area of art and craft applications, about which I’ll explain more fully as we go.

The “Great Work” is bigger than any single project and certainly far bigger than any one person, but you can join The Great Work by beginning your own personal The Work on a much smaller, more intimate and less overwhelming scale, just on the level of earning a livelihood.

For many, that’s overwhelming enough.

You mustn’t be overwhelmed by overwhelm. Learn to slide past it, let it go around you without affecting you. If you don’t, people around you will have to walk on eggshells to avoid overwhelming you, and that’s a pathetic sight.

Get a job.

Not just any job. What I have in mind is a profession and skill-set that will give you the means by which you can achieve Extreme Mindfulness rather easily.

What is Work?

“Work” is a very inclusive word that, when used as loosely as I’m using it here, happens to be large enough to easily cover the subject of crafts, specifically hand-crafts, which I intend to show as a group that will answer the principle effect, that of “making the world melt away”.

You want to do this with a Method, and you want to make sure that the products of your Work Effort will serve the General Good, and perhaps even raise the level of consciousness world-wide.

Although it seems lowly and insignificant, your art and craft contributions can make a world of difference by literally melding worlds and crossing boundaries of time and space.

In short, you can make things that can raise the consciousness of individuals and groups, and make a powerful difference just for having been here, being alive and taking part, that is participating, in The Great Work.

Hand-crafts and art projects can be modified to create both the personal effect of “world-melting away” and “goodness toward the general good” which is the perfect blend of a work project that has been well-designed for the present time, place and people.

Many hand-crafts will fit the bill.

Within the scope of “hand-crafting”, I include painting, sculpture, woodworking, graphic arts such as linoleum cuts, woodcuts, lithographs and etchings, fabric and textile art, ceramics, fiber arts, wax and ice art, miniature railway building, dollhouse making and finishing, whittling, gold-panning, gun-spinning and fast-draw, miniature railroading, crochet & knitting, patchwork quilting and much, much more — anything that requires skill, attention and some degree of agility will do the trick, which is to gather the attention and concentrate it on a very specific thing, from start to finish.

I would definitely include manipulation of a drone by remote viewing through a camera lens and screen to be a hand-craft. Try it, you’ll see what I mean — you’re operating an aircraft from thousands of feet away, as if you’re inside the model plane.

No matter what modality you choose, regardless of the particular techniques or art or craft you decide to manifest from yourself, it is the Path which leads to “EM”, pronounced “ee em”, or Extreme Mindfulness.

Extreme Mindfulness is a state of concentration that disallows intrusions from the organic world to disrupt your state.

It utilizes an automatic method of crowding out all extraneous thoughts by reason of having no room for them, which means that all your attention-points are occupied.

“No Vacancy” signs are posted everywhere.

In the province of the mind, there is no room for bad thoughts and worries. The demands of “EM” have won the day, and driven the bad thoughts from the battlefield.

This works only so long as you’re actually at the Work Desk or Studio Bench or Easel, blasting away at the project, disallowing any distraction to come in to mess up your work.

Gotta concentrate on this. Gotta Concentrate. Lotsa details, lotsa stuff, balance, balance, balance it all, get it all worked out, stuff all the spaghetti back into the can and close the lid.

Basically, you’re introducing in yourself a technique employing what could loosely be termed “Conscious Obsession”. It’s under your control, and actually requires a more or less continual pressure to re-create it on a continual basis.

It’s even better when you actually ARE obsessive on the subject, and except for the clinical variety of obsession, there’s nothing wrong with obsessing on a subject — ask any NFL fan.

The method of “Crowding Out” really works!

You get so busy on something so demanding that there’s simply no room for anything else inside your head. No room. All 128 attention-points are take up with artsy craftsy stuff, and the level of detail allows no extras.

You do the task, one-pointedly directing your whole attention on the job, picking up every last nuance and subtlety, leaving nothing to chance, nothing to sloppy management, gathering in each and every point until you ride the project like a stagecoach driver, swaying back and forth careening down the dusty road, all the while trying to keep the eight-horse team from running into one another.

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.

This technique of “Mindfulness” or “Extreme Concentration of Attention” is currently being explored as a method of handling depression, anxiety, worry and stress.

When I’m writing my blog, there is no world.

As you enter into the realm of Extreme Mindfulness, the Attention to Detail and Level of Detail will assail your senses.

Use the Work Mantra: “Let the cares of the world slip away.”

How does it work? How can you free yourself from the overwhelming burden of being alive in an organic world, with all its demands and miseries?

You only have so many Attention-Points. They don’t change number. Each point contains a thought-form. Those thought-forms can be replaced by other more constructive thought-forms, but you can’t leave it to choice or chance.

Work Projects are specially designed to achieve Freedom From Organic Worries.

That’s why the professional level must be achieved. There is no room for slop, and when food and shelter are on the line, you’ll get the “necessity” and Level-of-Detail that are needed to keep you working, and working well.

The marketplace tells you whether or not your work is working, but we’ll talk about this in a little while — meanwhile, let’s explore what kinds of work you could do that would demand your attention sufficiently powerfully that it would make the world literally melt away.

Video gaming is an incredible “catch” on the attention, providing the necessity for concentration and split-second decisioning, and if you’re in a team game, the group’s necessities will soon overshadow your own personal concerns.

The world of the videogame environment will become the Real World, and your Home World the dream world, until you push yourself away from the keyboard, having had enough gaming for the while.

Can’t concentrate? Gaming is your answer.

If you’re a sloppy player, then you can cancel that previous remark, because it’s all about level of detail combined with a willing suspension of disbelief and a conscious immersion in the game environment and the needs of the team, which can enhance the experience greatly and make the vision of the game world even stronger.

Game-Level Design is a very advanced way to inject consciousness into an activity, but it requires training and years of discipline to become a professional gamer.

It isn’t necessary to achieve that high a level of game proficiency, but it isn’t that hard, if you apply yourself, which is the whole key to Work Efforts — applying yourself.

It means total immersion in a project, even a temporary one, like repairing an earring or packaging some size 5 1/2 copper rings for a fair tomorrow.

Preparing for a fair knowing it might rain will produce yet another profound spiritual effect. Setting up your fair booth in pouring rain will produce several profound effects, some of which may or may not achieve the realm of Higher Consciousness.

IGOR (turning toward Wilder) “It could be worse — it could be raining.” Hey, wake up and smell the roses burning — it IS raining.

Take a knee to Organic Life.

How do you do that? Walk away from the organic world for at least a few hours a day, and if you can accomplish a professional level of earning capacity, almost all your waking hours can be spent in Higher Realms of Consciousness.

At the same time that you’re in a deep level of Extreme Mindfulness and the world has dropped away, you also happen to be making a good living.

This my Uncle Murray would have loved.

So how else can you use this unusual method of escape? Keep in mind that you don’t really escape anything, you merely exchange the ideas in your mind-set for other more constructive and far more pleasant ideas.

In short, you have to deliberately and quite intentionally and forcefully, create a demand for ALL of the few attention-points you have available, in all, let’s say “128 Units of Attention”.

You can’t dump the things in those attention points out, but you CAN replace them with something else. Nothing else works.

Replacement of the attention point contents is simple enough if you know the secret, but if you don’t, the bad thoughts and feelings will keep coming back in, crowding out the desired effect.

You gotta use the right mantra, but also the right effort.

Creating a demand for attention-points requires a “crowding out” effect, which can only be achieved by great necessity.

You won’t spend the energy replacing those bad thoughts and ideas with good thoughts and higher ideas, unless something makes you do it, and having to produce dozens of items for tomorrow’s fair or shop day is one of the best methods of making yourself work.

It’s also guaranteed of success.

Why? Because Extreme Mindfulness is the payoff, not money.

Tabletop gaming can be another solution because of its extreme requirements in details, and this might offer the Medievalist or OCD or Medievalist OCD an opportunity to try yet another great way to escape the bleak terrain of planet Earth.

Of course, if these things did not offer a better alternative, they wouldn’t and shouldn’t interest you.

By the way, no one single Work Method is going to do it.

You need a multiplicity of Work Efforts in order to achieve Balance, an important goal, along with the elimination of worry and intellectual anxiety. The body-generated stuff is harder to get rid of, but it can be squeezed out by extraordinary means, such as getting your booth ready for a fair that happens in just a few hours.

Another way to force involvement is to take on “The Work” as a job, nine to five.

What I mean is, from this, you can make a living?

Yes, it means to make a living, but that means dedicating yourself to something that is, in itself, ridiculous, which is to say, the marketplace and the mob, and what’s more, you’re tied to the clock — you live in the retail space until closing time, and begin to notice as the days pass that the last ten minutes is the longest.

Another peculiar effect of retailing is the absolute certainty that your biggest sale of the day will be coming through that door at one minute to closing time or five minutes after.

It’s a big risk getting out there and mingling with the Neanderthals, but somebody has to do it.

Not really. Just kidding. Nobody has to do it. If you wade in there into the public marketplace, you do it at your own risk and with the steady knowledge that, no matter what it looks like, they really ARE out to get you.

Joke? Sure, sort of. You could take it as a joke, or come to realize that empathy is not a widespread human trait, but we’re working on it.

Hand-crafting is just part of it.

Along with the making of the thing comes first the idea, the vision, the pattern, the imagination.

You get an idea  for something, perhaps just a general and rather non-particular image of some sort of thingy, and you sit down at your craft bench and start working to produce it.

After a predictable and annoying number of failures, you finally come up with a passable result.

You dangle it before you, examine it in the light, look at it from every angle, but still, something is missing.

What’s missing is the marketing.

You might not realize it at first, in the beginning, because your whole attentions is on the acquisition of the skills, adaptation to the tools of the trade, and to the medium itself.

Marketing will tell you if you’re on track or off. It will give you positive or negative feedback, or more commonly, total indifference, as if you were invisible or just “not there”.

Outcomes will vary.

The goal is eventually to see the skills level out, and the visioning take precedence over  materials and methods. Is that too technical for you?

Once in a while, I let things like that slip out, and realize just afterward, that those considerations are far from the present mind of the beginner.

So let’s just say that selling the product is half of the creative process.

I know I’m going to get some nasty email from that, but it’s true, like it or not. If you let your art pile up in a garage or storage unit, you’ll never really get it.

Part of the art process, at least to produce the Extreme Mindfulness Effect, is to actually get out there with your art and take the lumps, meaning accept the criticism and seriously consider adjusting your art, not to fit the market so much as to actually manifest as different from anyone else’s art, and yet be saleable.

Sure, selling is important for an artist.

Number one, you have to eat. You have to live somewhere, and if you sponge off others, it will profoundly affect your work and your output.

You need a place to stay and to work, and again, you don’t want to be on a “take trip”, so you earn the means to take care of yourself and to buy what you need to continue to produce your artworks.

This means that you MUST somehow enter the marketplace.

You can let a representative do all the selling for you, sort of like letting your Congressperson and Senator do all the thinking and deciding for you on the governmental level.

So you go into a gallery, and try to get an appointment.

Should you succeed in seeing someone, and it turns out that they like your work, you might get a show once or twice a year.

On this you can’t live very long, so you’ll have to find a way to sell your art on all the other days of the year, and you’ll have to do this year after year.

One alternative is to organize a bunch of artists in your neighborhood or in your chat group who are willing and able to work together to produce a selling gallery space.

It’s not a “co-op” gallery, it’s quite different, comprising different artists, same as a co-op, but with a common goal, which is very different from your typical co-op.

Most co-op galleries consist of a group of artists each with their own personal goal and agenda or set of agendas, which might or might not be obvious.

This results in political upheavals and chaos, the typical outcome of co-op galleries.

You are not selling art. You are not producing art. You are doing work efforts which produce Extreme Mindfulness.

Extreme Mindfulness is the only known cure for “The Willies”.

The only way to achieve “EM” — Extreme Mindfulness — is to concentrate the attention fully and completely, to the exclusion of all else.

Very few activities and meditations qualify for this exercise, but we’ll be looking at several very attractive solutions.

Keep in mind that organic comfort is not the goal here, although it may or may not be part of the process — it’s about developing the higher skills related to Extreme Mindfulness, much of which is about repetition and exactitude.

Exactitude is not Truth, but it can sharpen the attention to the level of Wisdom.

All Work Efforts involve some degree of Exactitude.

Chocolate can be a hand-craft that can help you achieve Extreme Mindfulness, but it takes an entire kitchen to make it happen in any serious way. Cooking up a batch of chocolate in a water-heated pan is not actually “making chocolate” — it takes a small factory.

Jewelry is certainly one hand-craft that can make a world of difference in your concentration of attention and will definitely sharpen your memory skills and innate abilities.

Within the pale of “jewelry”, you will find “wire jewelry”, which is currently my primary copper and silver smithing classes.

Wire jewelry is very adaptable and conformable to the designer’s vision, and requires no burnout kiln, no torch, no chemicals and certainly not a hint of the risk ordinary jewelers take every working day of their lives.

You might already be doing some jewelry but again, making a few pieces whenever you feel so-moved to do it is not the same thing as “Jewelry Sold Here”.

But jewelry might not be within your skills packet, so let’s look at something a little different in its demands on the worker.

A good candidate for “Work Effort” is the skill-set acquired with practice that comes from miniature painting, particularly the “Match-Box Miniatures”.

It is along these lines that I decided to produce and offer prepared “Unfinished” matchboxes along with suggested projects.

  • LANDSCAPES — You can do landscapes either horizontal or vertical. If I’m packaging them in a vertical format, it’s somewhat less unsettling to have vertical landscapes in there, but they are really for the more advanced landscape artist, because it’s hard to cram in what you need to cram in to make a vertical landscape work. Big challenge there, which might do you some good, if you’re presently feeling unchallenged.
  • STILL LIFES — Why isn’t it “Still-Lives”??? Anyhow, a still-life is an interior scene, just as a “landscape” is an exterior scene. It may or may not include figures.
  • FIGURES — Also called “Life Drawing”, the figures can be full-length, knee-length, waist-length or at a far distance, as in the famous dance circle by Matisse.
  • BUSTS & PORTRAITS — This is generally the bread-and-butter of the art industry. Nobody likes anything better than a portrait of themselves, hence the extreme popularity of the “Selfie”, which I’ve made fun of by taking all my screenshots of Atlantis as selfies, in which you can barely see anything of the background.
  • ABSTRACTS — Most non-artists think that abstract art is just a bunch of squiggles and squirts on a canvas, but a well-produced abstract is in fact a glaring exposure of technical skills, because there is no subject, only technique.

Those are the 5 Major Food-Groups of Art.

Landscapes can be squeezed down into a miniature, but you have to have “the moves” programmed into the hands before the miniaturization takes place.

You get the movements, the sweeps, the curls, the lines and compressions and hatching and all the other components of the picture, do it a thousand times full-size, and THEN, only then, try to take it down to a matchbox.

If your Aunt Margaret buys your item at a home Christmas sale, it does not mean you’re doing well.

You might be doing okay, but only a stranger who cares nothing for you will determine that, and you can’t really measure the effect you’re having directly on the environment, because it blends in before you can see it in outline, if you get my drift — radio joke.

In the realm of flat-art, there are three controllable dimensions — length, width and height, which work out to “light and dark” for length, “warm and cool” for height, and “intense-to-grey” for depth.

It’s not just technical. There’s “feel” as well, and a host of considerations about what you’re doing that will serve to crowd out the bad thoughts and feelings.

This will work, but you need to give it a LOT of energy to make it work, and you’ll have to keep sweeping up the fallen bits and re-gathering your attention, grabbing it from the intrusions and returning it to the task at hand.

Demanding your attention. Forcing you to abandon those bad thoughts because there’s no room in there for both those thoughts and your work-attention.

How is it done?

Create the necessity. Get a job. Make failure a non-option. Create wealth and calmness, spontaneousness and personal freedom.

Get the space to breathe.

This DEMAND for your attention just doesn’t happen with straight meditation, although there are exceptions to this rule, as there always are to any rule, even lightspeed.

The method relies upon necessity, involvement and disciplined obsessive commitment to the project and to the completion of every item in every stage along the way.

You can start right now.

Send for my FREE matchbox miniatures kit for only $49.95, which includes several matchboxes and a few suggestions on how to use them, along with the means to replace them when they’ve sold out, which they will, if you do your part properly.

Remember that you don’t need to actually be an artist to do this Work. Just be sincere and you’ll make it.

Have confidence, hope and freedom from anxiety, fear and despair!

Send for your FREE KIT! (be sure to enclose $49.95 shipping & handling, but hurry before we arbitrarily raise the shipping charges again!!!)

Once again I remind you that money is not the object here. This is a School Exercise, but nevertheless, you will be graded by the public reception to your art and craft works, and I’ll definitely indicate to you where the public has scorched you.

You need to develop a definite identity gap between yourself and your manifestations. This goes along with the creation of skill-sets that allow you to be creative in many different and constructive ways.

It all goes toward the General Good, which IS the goal.

The Method must be all-inclusive and all-consuming, leaving no unwanted wiggly bits to crawl around inside the head.

This demand requires something very special, not available in the ordinary run of things, or it would have been on the pharmacy shelves a long time ago.

What is needed is a very specific set of operations and a profoundly simple, yet expansive skill set.

That’s why I said, more than a few paragraphs ago, that you definitely want what I’m selling.

What is it I’m selling?

Freedom.

Want Freedom? Earn it.

See You At The Top!!!

gorby

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