Lightbeams is the first of an ongoing series of interviews with people who live unconventional lifestyles.
An artist, photographer and writer who whisked herself away to New York from Singapore to immerse herself in a creative lifestyle. She lifestreams and shares her work at silentinfinite.com.
Exuberant greetings to you. What’s your name?
Hello! My name is Abigail Geraldine.
What are your most intense passions?
Creating. Exploring new worlds. Communicating. Connecting. Experiencing that I am a part of the living universe. Understanding myself.
How did you cultivate these passions? Did you always have them? How did you discover that you wanted to aim your focus on these particular art forms?
They were always latent, though they expressed themselves differently over the course of my life. I was always creative, but not everybody would have considered me ‘talented’: I’m not a child prodigy. I just really, really love creating. I love how I feel when I create: like I’m connected, irreversibly, to a vast network of life.
The experience of true love and bliss that accompanied my creative moments along with the experience of intense suffering when I was not allowed to be creative is what helped me make the decision to focus on this with all my heart, mind and life.
Do you survive solely on your artistic endeavors? If not, what else do you do to survive?
Right now I’m in the process of working towards letting my work support me full time. You’ve caught me in the very moment where I’m putting everything I’ve got into it once more and hoping everything will finally align after years of trying to figure it out. So yes, I am doing this full-time right now, there’s nothing else I do to survive.
How did you develop your talents? Are you self-taught, or did you learn through typical means?
Both. I took a few semesters of digital filmmaking classes and one semester of photography classes at two different art colleges over a period of 5 years. The most meaningful learning to me has always been self-taught, though. I make the biggest leaps when I decide to self-educate because I know how to nurture my own talent best.
Art school was actually harmful to my creative process – besides being exorbitantly expensive, it was too focused on superficial elements and not enough focus on inner development and sensitivity to beauty, which are the most important things for me as an artist.
What was your life like before you decided to do something different?
It was a nightmare. There were some moments of bliss, but mostly it was a difficult struggle. I had to learn how to help my mind and emotions work for me. I kept finding myself in situations with people who only wanted to hurt and squelch me and in places where I had to compromise my identity and deepest beliefs in order to survive.
Who or what inspired you to move forward with your life instead of just moving within everyone else?
I looked to other artists. I fell completely in love with so much 90s music from America (Pearl Jam, Mark Lanegan, Nine Inch Nails, Tori Amos, Skinny Puppy, Fugazi) and realized that there was a different path, where I could hope to live as a whole person. I wouldn’t have to live a double life anymore. I would be able to live fulfilled, whole and always sharing my creative gifts.
I also discovered spirituality through people like Nisargadatta Maharaj, along with Buddhism, Sufism, Christian mysticism, Theosophy and esoteric thinkers like Gurdjieff and Ouspensky.
It became very clear that there was a whole other side to life expressed in art and spirit that most of society simply ignored.
Did you have to overcome anxiety? How did you push through it to get to where you are?
Yes. I had to overcome severe anxiety and depression – which I think are very sane reactions when one is trapped in a society that does not acknowledge one’s deepest potential or that is actively hostile to one’s natural way of being in the world.
The interesting thing about healing yourself from anxiety and depression is that you learn to let your mind and emotions work for you. I healed myself through learning healthy mental habits, excluding certain types of people from my life and basically learning to truly love myself.
What did you have to give up in order to live the way you do? Was it worth it? What did you get instead?
I’ve had to give up a lot of things I hated anyway, in order to get things I really love, which is wonderful! I’ve traded in an unfulfilling relationship for true love, a country I absolutely hated for one that feels like home, a lack of opportunity for so much hope and possibility.
One thing that was tricky was actually releasing the attachment to any kind of conventional success – but this is also wonderful because I’ve always wanted to have an incredibly unique life anyway.
What sort of opposition did you get from other people?
I’ve had people belittle me, bully me, get me to doubt myself, put down my dreams and project their own unhappiness with life on me. Basically I’ve had people make me feel that there was something gravely wrong with me, simply for thinking and acting in a way that is natural to me.
What sort of support did you get?
I’ve had people accept me unconditionally and offer me true love, with absolutely no strings attached – which has been one of the most beautiful and heartening experiences of my life. I’ve had people unexpectedly come through for me in the most difficult situations. I’ve had people appear out of nowhere, help me out, and disappear again. And sometimes, things have seemed to work out like magic – with no resistance.
Photo by Brainwomb.
What do you consider to be paramount to living a full and unconventional life?
Self-knowledge and self-love.
How would you define unconventional?
An unconventional life to me is one lived in harmony with one’s heart and out of step of the template existence that most people lead which involves grasping at illusions of success that neither truly fulfill or satisfy. An unconventional person devotes her life to self-actualization rather than social approval. She thrives instead of just surviving.
You mention going through a lifetime of incredible personal darkness – what steps did you take to get through it? What are the most important lessons that you learned?
I focused on what I wanted to create, summoned the courage to deal with my shadow (really this was a necessity and still is an ongoing process), and relentlessly created positive energy (through thought, feeling and action) in the direction of where I wanted to go.
I took practical steps too: I made damn sure that I moved out of my country of origin to a new place where I would be free to express myself and grow creatively and intellectually.
I learned that paying attention to your consciousness truly changes your experience of reality and in very big ways. When you can take steps to ensure that this moment is fully and truly lived, experienced and appreciated, there is a very real result in physical reality. When you choose to become love, it can’t help but shine through you, transforming your experience of life.
Do you have a personal mantra?
Actually I don’t! :)
What gets you through periods of inertia?
Inertia is something I have to deal with a lot now, because I’m going through a major life change and I constantly feel the fear of stepping into the unknown. Here’s what I do to release it:
I focus on being intensely present – just breathing and sometimes listening to music. Inspiration often follows.
I immerse myself in the creative process and enjoy it thoroughly.
I lead myself to remember how good love feels, and how incredible it feels to share it. This often leads to action, because love reaches outward.
I fantasize about the potential we have as human beings to create new realities through art and science. I think about how much of the universe we have yet to discover, and how each generation does the work of reaching just a little further…
I know you are attuned to the positive – do you think it is important to be positive at all times, or should we embrace a darker part of ourselves, too?
We should absolutely discover our shadow and understand how it relates to the parts of ourselves that are easier to deal with. I’m not so much attuned to the positive as I am to the constructive and creative. Creation often implies destruction of some sort within the process. When destruction is in service of the creative process however, it is ultimately creative/regenerative. So, I try to see things beyond the binary of positive/negative, which isn’t always easy! :)
Does health play a roll in your life at all? How important do you think health is in order to really live the best possible life? What healthy habits do you have?
When I was depressed, I changed my diet to include more raw food as well as organic produce (where possible) and was amazed at how it affected my mood. I think health is really important and it’s definitely something I have been hoping to focus on more. I cook quite a lot, buy organic as much as possible and try to make sure I have some raw component to my diet.
Photo by Morrissey Photo.
Describe your typical daily lifestyle.
Right now I have no typical day. I’m still adjusting to a major life change and this will probably become clearer in the next few weeks. Suffice to say, I create as much as I can every day :)
How would you advise someone who wanted to break free of a regular life and become what they truly dream? Please give concrete examples as well as some possibly wild ideas.
Pay attention to your dreams – both the kind you have at night as well as the fantasies you have about what your life could be. In contemporary society, too many of us are naturally disconnected from our desires after a lifetime of socialization. We must rediscover our fundamental desires to understand what will really fulfill us on a deep level.
Release the need to have a conventional life in any way – if you’re clinging to conventional success, the transition is going to be that much more painful. Love your unique path.
Have no guilt about giving yourself space and unconditional love. Take as much time as you need. Realize that transformation can’t be rushed or forced.
Realize that you are loved infinitely and that you are infinite love. Tap into that through poetry, music, dance or whatever suits your fancy. Remember that you are loved exactly as you are.
Be present. Breathe deep.
Jettison negative people, beliefs and circumstances from your life regularly.
Change your physical/social environment. For me, moving far away from the culture I grew up in – from Singapore to New York City – helped me expand my idea of what was possible in this world. It helped me let go of any absolute ideas I had of morality. I realized that there is no absolute right or wrong. There is only what works for you and what does not. This made me realize how precious free will is and that all of us have full freedom of choice.
How much does reading affect your life? Any must-read books you suggest to everyone? How about blogs?
Oh yes. I read a ton, though less these days.
Books: Rob Brezsny’s ‘Pronoia’, Daniel Pinchbeck’s ’2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl’, The Essential Rumi (trans. Coleman Barks), Morihei Ueshiba’s ‘The Art of Peace’, Rebecca Solnit’s ‘Hope in the Dark’, Carolyn Elliott’s ‘Awesome Your Life’.
Blogs: I love yours!
Awesome Your Life: http://www.awesomeyourlife.com
Jessica Mullen: http://www.jessicamullen.com
Roots of She: http://www.rootsofshe.com
Evolutionary Landscapes: http://evolutionarylandscapes.net/
Live Lightly: http://ilivelightly.com/
Cosmic Outlaw: http://www.cosmicoutlaw.com/
Do you have a muse or someone in particular you admire (can be more than one).
Refer to the blogs above! :)
Any other words of wisdom?
Love feels really good. True love feels like the reason we are alive.
Do you live a creative, unconventional, or free lifestyle? Please email me (or comment below) and tell me about yourself and I may interview you, too!