Sunday 2/25/24

Sunday 2/25/24

February 26, 2024

Sunday 2/25/24


On Sundays I reflect.

I made it through the week without drinking alcohol until my show. At the end of the night I had two beers once everything had wrapped up and the last of us were hanging at the studio. Then today I had a beer on the hill and one at home this evening. I’m glad it wasn’t more than that. Lately I have been able to exercise control when drinking and not let it get out of hand, but I know it’s a slippery slope for me.

This weekend was the 7th annual Vail Cup Collectors Club. I can’t believe we have been producing this event for seven years. It was such a special weekend for all of us at Bat Country Studios as always.

This week I was on the torch almost every day. I made more work in the last two weeks than I usually make in a month. It felt good to blow glass with my friends, and to have so much fresh work for the show.

We had artists and collectors from around the country at the studio including many of my friends and some of my heroes. I feel eternally grateful to be in the position that I am and surrounded by the people that inspire me.

Today a group of us got some fun laps in at Vail. It was a beautiful day and so much fun to get up on the hill with an incredible crew. We wrapped up the day with lunch at a private club atop the mountain that couldn’t have been nicer thanks to some of our friends and supporters.

Thank you to the sponsors and artists and collectors who made this so special. I know I should list everyone involved, but I’m so tired I don’t even know how I’m still writing this blog. Thank you to my team at Drinking Vessels for working nonstop this week to make the show a success in every way imaginable. I definitely couldn’t do this without my team.

While I want to share more about the last week and what we experienced, I’m going to spend a little time sharing about my personal life and then go to sleep.

Lately I have been going through a challenging period of change and growth that has been very difficult for me. I’ve been speaking to a therapist, which has been helping and is something I’ve needed and wanted to do for years if not the past decade. I’ve always been too busy and lacking the skills and resources to get the help I need. My family and friends have supported me through this and helped me to find someone to talk to finally.

I struggle with interpersonal relations in my life and I’m starting to think that I’m on the Autism spectrum. I’m a very blunt person and sometimes people who are close to me find challenge with my extremely dry sense of humor. I have many tendencies rooted in unaddressed anxiety that I experience on a daily basis.

I also have a short temper and less patience than the “Zen Ben” I attempt to be. This behavior mostly comes out in my interactions with my family, and when I find myself outside of my routine. I’ve also noticed it manifesting in the way I treat my apprentice. I’ve been actively working on the way I communicate with NüBen and other people in my life, attempting to take more time to listen to others and trying not to let myself jump to anger when I get frustrated.

I recently read a book that was given to me called “How To Fight” by Thich Nhat Hanh. It’s a quick read that I’ll give another round of my attention to this week in order to attempt to really internalize the messages. It’s been helpful in navigating the changes I’m experiencing.

I had a psychedelic experience last week without the assistance of mind altering substances. A close friend has been telling me recently that they feel that I am a psychedelic experience, which I didn’t really understand.

I remember an experience a few years ago that I wrote about when I was in Washington Square Park one day. As I listened to “Redbone” by Childish Gambino. I was not on drugs at the time, and as I listened to my headphones on a bench in meditation over some challenges in my life at the time I began to notice a musician playing his saxophone across the walkway from me. The man was jamming along with the music in my ears perfectly, without knowing it. When the song ended, so did his playing. I approached the man after some time of feeling shock and not knowing what I was experiencing. He was deep in conversation with a woman, so I waited patiently to share with him the experience I had just had. When I realized I was running out of time for some reason I interrupted their conversation to say thank you and be on my way. The musician was so angry at me for interrupting him, and he let me know it. I left feeling overwhelmingly negative about the situation and was able to deduce that I can often be an interruption in other people’s lives and that this was something I should be mindful of and work on.

Over the summer I met a woman that immediately changed my life on the day we met. I believe it was the following day that we were taking about wildlife where I live and I mentioned my affinity for the foxes who can be seen on rare occasions. After the conversation we were walking through the Vail Village when we encountered a big beautiful fox in the middle of the road and nobody or nothing else around. I became silent (which is extremely rare and maybe unheard of for me). The fox lingered and I was rendered speechless for a number of minutes. My mind became still and I stood there breathing while I experienced a similar psychedelic feeling to that of a complete stranger in the park accompanying the music in my headphones without knowing what I was listening to.

When I was young I remember exploring the psychedelic realm with mushrooms and various other drugs. I had many overwhelmingly bad experiences or trips, but I was still in search of answers I wasn’t finding in my daily life. Every time I came down I would arrive at the same conclusions for myself, primarily based around becoming sober and paying attention to my health and well being. For decades I struggled to integrate my psychedelic experiences into my daily life. The results were a series of very painful decades for me, and a continued feeling of anxiety and generally being unwell.

Years ago I stopped drinking alcohol and also stopped consuming psychedelic drugs and pretty much concluded my era as a drug user besides for my incessant smoking addiction. Right now that is the last frontier for me to tackle and overcome, and it’s more challenging than probably any other decision I’ve made in my life.

I’m failing.

Despite my failures which I’m working to face and acknowledge, I’m also making progress. My brain has been confused by this lately. How could I be both failing and succeeding simultaneously?

Then last week my partner was with me, the same woman that was with me when we saw the fox in the village. We were having a challenging conversation when I began having another psychedelic experience. Typically my instinct is to react to what others say to me, and often I resort straight to offering solutions. During this conversation I just listened, and my partner opened up to me. The sun had not come up so the room was dark, and I began to feel a tingling in my body. I listened intently and while my focus was entirely on what was being shared with me I was having an out of body experience. I witnessed our conversation from the third person perspective. I began reliving past experiences and stayed focused on just listening. I hadn’t slept much that week and began having visual hallucinations, but I was able to stay present enough to listen while all of this was happening. I remember opening my eyes and seeing the pitch black and realizing that I was in a psychedelic experience. I breathed as deeply and consistently as I could. I smiled, and I kept listening.

I’m working very hard to be a better listener in my life. My brain has so much going on at all times that I often just blurt out whatever thought happens to be dancing around up there at the time.

It takes me back to feeling like an interruption in other people’s lives.

I’ve been working on the life work balance lately, and right now I’m feeling extremely overwhelmed by my work life. I’m planning to take a ski trip this week away from Vail where I can do some reflecting outside of my normal routine and the studio.

I have a lot of art in me waiting to get out, and my creative output has been stifled by Business Ben and the distractions that come with that part of my life. In the short term I’m committed to finding better balance in my life, so that in the long term I’ll be able to accomplish my goals and bring my vision to life through my art.

I’ve told people close to me that Bat Country Studios is my greatest artistic contribution to the world. It’s weird having my art not take the form of a tangible item which people can buy. Our consumerism society adds a layer of complication to this for me too in the way I view my art. I may not be the lead on construction nor the muralists who painted the walls. I’m starting to understand my position as a curator and what that means to my identity as an artist.

It’s about the people who come together in the space we have created as a community. It’s about the art that gets made there, and not always by me. It’s about the friends who come to share a meal or just get their mind off the real world for a few minutes.

I’m so proud and grateful to be doing what we’re doing here. I feel privileged beyond belief. I also recognize I need the help of my team to be able to make some time for me away from work, so that I can do my best work. They’ve been there for me through this period of growth and change and I appreciate them severely.

I’m hoping to be offline for much of this week after I wrap up some time sensitive commitments I’ve made, so that I can achieve a little clarity for myself.

The last two weeks preparing for this show have been amazing, and the show was one of the most fun days of my life. Thank you so much to everyone who was a part of it.

Now I’m going to get some rest, which I desperately need. I appreciate you tuning in for my journey week after week. I wish you a wonderful week ahead.


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