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  • Rob Will

Pulse Of Life: A Free-Form Jazz Interpretation

Coltrane on the sax. Dah-Dah-Dah, Bah-Bah-Bah-Bah. Music dancing across the sky of my consciousness…have you ever seen very thin clouds spreading beautifully across the sky? Perfectly still, serene, a natural art. Let your mind’s eye gaze upon them.

Now imagine the clouds dancing. Some excellent Jazz is on, a free-form eurythmic style. I love the violin and right now a violin just came on but it’s being played like a sax. Some mean bass in the background. From violin to sax—raw. I’m wearing my latest Artisan Craftwork creation. I tried to catch the essence of the pulse of life in this bracelet, this small, wearable mandala.

I was vibing on this idea, this vision, imagining an EKG monitor beep-beep-beeping, the lines jumping up and down with the rhythm of the heart, a little dance of Nature and the indestructible pulse of Life. I had this vision of Life, the very essence of Life, dancing to eurythmic avant-garde Jazz, in a vision that manifested while listening to some beautiful jazz music.

Once I had the idea in mind I began creating. This is a completely original design that took me 14 hours to complete. Unlike most other prisons we aren’t allowed to receive any type of craft materials. We have to just utilize whatever we can come up with and as the warden once told me, “I don’t give a shit what you make as long as it can’t stab anyone and you can’t hide contraband in it.”

To make string is an extremely complicated process. There are various ways to do this. One way is to spend hours carefully pulling apart a shirt (or something) then putting strands of string together and twisting and twisting and twisting for hours and hours to make little ropes. Then, use the ropes to make different types of braids and twists. This is basically what I did with this piece and I had to twist and pull a very specific way in order to catch the free-form Jazz vibe.

The center of the bracelet is a piece of hard plastic; it took about 4 hours to make it. We don’t have any sharp cutting implements so to ‘cut’ things I use the sharp edges of my metal bunk, sink or desk and just keep going back and forth and back and forth. I also use the rough parts of my concrete floor to ‘sand’ things.

I should mention what initially got me into craft work: A Mexican gang member and an ultra Conservative born again Christian. I’ve always been interested in Artisan Craft work, everything from classic Celtic and ancient Persian knot work to Huichol yarn paintings and scared Hindu and Navajo jewelry and such things, but they inspired me to actually create my own. I moved to a new pod and the Christian guy told me he started making crosses and ‘friendship bracelets.’ (He actually made the Satya tag on the bracelet.) The other guy is on the next section and he was making crosses also, something he has done since he was locked up in juvenile prison as a kid.

“Crosses are cool,” I thought, “but why not mala beads, sacred jewelry, Celtic crosses, Egyptian Ankhs and…hmm….” And I began creating. I got with the two guys and asked them to show me how to do the intricate work required to make various types of strings, knots and ropes, which seemed like a nearly impossible, completely amazing thing at first. Then, as with all of my Art, I let ideas come to me during meditation.

Satya, Sanskrit for Truth. Gandhi spoke of how all of his Life experience had taught him that there is no other God than Truth and the only means for realization of this Truth is Ahimsa (Non-Violence in thought and action). Looking at this little mandala of Truth I’m wearing right now reminds me of the power of this concept. I can almost feel bursts of indestructible, never-ending Life-affirming Jazz inspired Energy leaping forth from this bracelet. I’ve studied the history of Jazz and there is indeed much Truth in Jazz…

With that thought in mind—and being that Ahimsa and Satya are the first and second aspects of the first limb of classic Yoga I’m about to supercharge this bracelet with all types of sense-enlivening energy by doing some nice Yoga—and Shaolin Qi Gong while wearing it…Om Satya Om…

From the Polunsky Death Camp In the East Texas Piney Woods With Peace, Strength and Love:

Rob Will

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