Monday, January 15, 2007

The Source Of Inspiration - Part One

To create or design anything fresh, to change or improve on that which already exists, we must think new thoughts and feel new feelings. This often requires viewing everything around us from a different vantage point. A great man taught me a long time ago about how to see what I was looking at from a whole new perspective. That man was Albie Mulcahy.

I met Albie in the late 80's some time after he was personally selected by Paul Mitchell to be a Master level Educator and Stage Artist for the most successful salon product line of all time. Eventually, I found myself as backstage support for a regional hairdressing event he was headlining. Most of us spent our time during the preparations avoiding his wrath (he had a stereotypical artistic temperament). Everything changed when he bounded on stage and began to dress the models' hair. We were in awe as he worked the hair, the stage and the audience. I looked over to my friend and said, "That man is a god!".

I found myself sitting at Albie's feet after that show . We started a discussion that did not end for several years. He spoke then about how his trip to Japan, and the music he was exposed to there, had him going in a different direction on stage. He would later speak of how the architecture he found in Europe was influencing the shape and design of his hairdressing and costuming. He never made excuses and neither will I but I began to see that Albie's volatility was part of an uncomfortable process in between the visualized ideal of everday genius and its end product. Albie's outbursts dissipated as we all developed the ability to translate his directions into more artful hair. Albie exhibited generosity, love and leadership to his apprentices. Ultimately and importantly, he shifted my thinking profoundly by teaching me how to absorb all that was around me and reinterpret what I found into what I was creating.

Albie is an assault on the senses. When he performs his artistry, Albie literally vibrates with life force. He is physically turned on and the other dimensions of his being are affected as well. Albie has discovered how to channel his artistic and sexual tensions into all his endeavors. Everyone in his presence feels it (maybe girls more than boys) and can walk away transformed. Albie demonstrates to us that there will be palpable feelings associated with being truly inspired. We, too, will have such charisma and magnetism, drawing good people and good will toward us if we can work, play and create with such aliveness.

Another aspect of how Albie informs his art is through a keen awareness of what gives him pleasure. Pleasure used to be, and may still be, a strong motivator for him. There was a time when I wished I could be more swept away by my hedonist desires in the manner I observed or fantasized that Albie was. The women Albie entertains are not of marital relation, at least not his. The drugs Albie has taken have not always been those prescribed. It is likely he had as many of his resources invested in leather pants as his portfolio. These propensities worked for Albie. I simply could not pull so far away from my upbringing that I could embrace all that his world represented. Yet it is has been a gift to be exposed to his lifestyle. I have matured enough to finally accept the role sensuality plays in my work and self expression. I admire his talent for tapping into his sense of pleasure as he goes about designing. There are personal truths being revealed to us when we are gratifying our senses, the only way we have to absorb our natural and physical world. We have to seek out our truths, as Albie does, as all artists do.

Although Albie has played the part of the bad boy hairdresser and stage artist well, he can surprise me. Recently, I asked him what was inspiring him now. He immediately answered, "Spirituality." Albie told me it was spirituality that kept him going, looking in more places. After a bit, he further revealed that God was what was inspiring and uplifting him. We agreed that most people who know of Albie would think the last place he was finding stimulation today was in the spiritual domain. As I reflect on it this, I realize my teacher had rightly named the source of all of our inspiration. The word, inspiration, itself literally means to be infused with spirit or with the breath of the divine. Albie directs us to look to the fundamental basis where everything that was, is and will be emanates from.

Albie gives us several clues about finding our own inspiration in how he lives his life and through his acts of creation. Albie has developed his awareness for the world around him. He listens to his inner voice. He chooses a vocation that serves as a conduit for his experiences. He has figured out a way to turn his intense desires into something that serves others as he serves himself.

It seemed as if my inspirational friend sustained his imaginative view with excitement and thrills. Now, Albie speaks of being uplifted. Perhaps there comes a time for all of us when we begin to sense the vibration of the Supreme Artist and Creator in us. A time when we are not limited in seeing simply what is fed back to us in our vision. A time when we imbue what we create with our very essence.

To be continued

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