Looking for the inspiration and some fresh ideas I couldn’t think of a better place to go than the art gallery. That’s how I found myself standing in front of the modern painting trying to comprehend its meaning.
“Are you an artist?” – I heard a question from the gentleman standing next to me.
“No, but I wish I was. Are you?”
“I am not, but I am an art collector”.
“What kind of art do you collect?”, – I wondered.
“It is mainly Native American art. I’ve been doing this for about 15 years now and I have more than 50 pieces in my collection”.
“That’s impressive! But there are so many artists. How do you decide who deserves your attention?”
“There are a lot of websites about Native American art and I go to see who is using new materials or who is getting grants and scholarships. And then I check the works and see if any of it appeals to me. It’s great to catch artists at the stage when they are experimenting and trying to create new. And if it takes off – it’s great, but I don’t buy the art for money. I buy it for personal pleasure. It gives me joy.”
“How did you find this passion? Did you study a history of art or something similar?”
“No. I was in the military in the past and I have my law firm today. I guess it all started back in my childhood. I grew up in a small town in Texas called Harlingen. There wasn’t a lot to do, so I was reading a lot as a kid and going these imaginary adventures. And I always wanted to make a life that was interesting and exciting. Then I got a scholarship to go to college through Naval ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps). They pay for four years of your school and then you serve for four years. I studied anthropology and economics. The anthropology is very interesting; it is about cultures and different people. It is interesting to hold a piece of pottery which is 1000, 2000, 3000 years old. Who made this? Where did it come from? How was it made? People were as smart as you and I, they just did not have a lot of technology. But they created the pyramids, they made great architecture. Nobody knows how they did it, it is still a mystery. The knowledge was lost. I was always fascinated about that and wanted to learn more about the cultures.
After college, I spent 7 years in the Marines and left as a Captain. I lived in Japan, Washington and California. I enjoyed the life but it was time for me to make a change. I wanted to make my own schedule and to make my own decisions. And I went to the University of Texas School of Law. After I graduated I did not just jump into practicing law. I traveled and worked on my book.”
“A book? Is it published? What is it about?”
“The book is called “Elemental Shaman: One Man’s Journey Into the Heart of Humanity,
Spirituality & Ecology”. After I graduated from a Law School I wanted to learn about the world and to continue to meet people. I had an idea sort of to continue my anthropology studies on my own and to learn about Maya, about Buddhist traditions and what they predict for the world. So, I began to profile spiritual people, healers, to learn about their healing practices. I just wanted to get information from them, to help preserve their traditions and to find out their stories. Like a biography-interviewer”.
“Is everything in the book a true story?”
“Yes, it is totally true, based on a real story. I had a dream about that. I cannot explain it. It is a very mysterious phenomenon. I would have dreams about these people and when I had enough clues I would go to find them and talk to them. Most of these people were already expecting me, saying they had a dream that somebody was going to come”.
“Did this project help you to find your spiritual path?”
After the military, I felt kind of hollow. It’s like you completed the mission and then what do you do with your life? So, trying to restructure and find meaning to my life, make sense of it, this is what I was doing. And I’m still learning. Learning about the planet, about myself and the people.
“What do you mean exactly under restructuring your life and bringing the meaning?”
I think sometimes you lose your identity in the military. Which is good and bad. It’s good cause you start focus on the team and you put the team first. But then afterwards it’s like being in a football team – when you are off the team what do you do? How do you define your life when football is gone? How do you continue to feel useful and productive? I had to rebuild myself. It was almost like deconstruction and then a reconstruction. It had to go down to basics, to lose some of your illusions and learn who you are and what you are. I am still doing that.
“What is the best way to learn who you are?”
“I think you need to look at what motivates you and sometimes what scares you. And start to break down those patterns and see what is the underlying meaning? Why do you want it? If you keep asking questions you can deconstruct illusions. You can deconstruct the façade. We all create the facades when we travel through life. So, I think you should spend time on yourself asking questions, deconstructing yourself to get to your core and your essence. I think it is super important to find your identity.”
“Did you find your spiritual teacher during your book project?”
“Working on the project I got a chance to meet Dalai Lama. It was really cool experience and I have even made a film about it. There were other two very spiritual people I met. One is a Buddhist teacher in Canada. Very insightful, humble quiet and peaceful. I still think about his messages. And another one is in Sikkim, Northeastern India. His name is Tai-Stu Rinpoche. He is like a leader for Indian, Chinese people – Asian people around the world. He was very spiritual but also very humble. He took me aside and we talked a little bit. It is someone who is very well-known but also very humble. The more famous the monks are, the nicer they are, super humble, not what you expect.”
“What kind of religions did you explore?”
“I met people who still study Maya religion which is about nature spirits, but they would consider themselves Catholics. They would integrate these religions. The other one was in Bhutan. The way the Buddhists think about past lives and purifying yourself to get better. The cycle of samsara – birth, death and rebirth. And we do it thousands and thousands of times, and at the end of cycle you will achieve an enlightment. It is very interesting”.
“After this exploration, did you find what religion is closer to you?”
“I am Christian but I’m also a Buddhist. I really believe in importance of stripping away your illusions, and coming to the core of who you are. It is like self-exploration. We create our ego. And the purpose is to let go our ego. Buddhism focuses on improving your life.
There is a Wiccan priest, his name is Raven Grimassi and he is also an author. Raven said that different religions are like pearls, and God is the string that runs through them. I thought it was a very good metaphoric story. He also said that God has different names but it is still the same energy for good and for life, not destruction and not chaos. This would be the opposite of that”.
We discussed a lot of other engaging subjects and once again I was convinced how unique each of us is. Going through the life journey we acquire a personal experience that is always worth sharing. And being more attentive to each other we could discover a lot of exceptional stories and ideas and create a lot of great things.
About the author:
Oxana believes that every person’s life can make an intriguing story for a book which can teach a lot of wisdom. Life in Russia, England, France, Hungary, USA and lots of travelling around the continents introduced her to exceptional personalities. She loves to share stories about people and destinations which bring new ideas and help to find a way to your true self. This is why she started her blog “In search of the genuine”