let's fall apart at the edges and at the center

September 17, 2013


A few weeks back I was scrolling through twitter when I saw a friend's post that they'd had a bad day, and were finding comfort in pictures of baby animals, and a drink. Pretty soon a few others chimed in with similar feelings, and their own thoughts about what would make them feel better. This was strangely comforting to me. Sometimes I forget that people around me-- people I respect, and share community with-- also have bad days. I forget that they feel overwhelm, sadness, and fear just like me, and that they also have days where they feel unraveled and uncertain.

They strange thing about being so virtually connected is that many of the important details of this mysterious human experience don't transfer over-- the pain, longing, and insecurity. They get curated away in favor of discussion of accomplishments, projects, and joys, or transformed into complaints (which I don't think is the same as talking about the emotions at the crux of the complaint). Sometimes this isn't a bad thing: don't you like to focus on the happy stuff? I much prefer to remember my life as it's architected around the joys. But my life is architected around other things too.

The past four months have been really messy and challenging for me. I'm trying to focus on the positive outcomes of this time, without sugarcoating my feelings. I want to be sincere, partially because I want more sincerity from the people around me. I wish us all an increased ability to be vulnerable, and an end to the mysterious pressure that insists our lives be neat and presentable, because that's just plain bullshit. I believe that challenges always transform us for the better, and are truly awesome teachers. That doesn't make all of the Big Feelings feel any less enormous, or any less isolating.

I am reminded of the artist statement for Mad King Thomas' Phone Dances (colon) Dances for the Telephone, presented last spring at The Soap Factory:

Laughter opens the sutures that hold us together. Let's not be held together, let's not protect ourselves or slip quietly into entertainment. Let's fall apart at the edges and at the center. Let's make things more awesome.

Last week I started rehearsing at the Soap Factory for Emily Gastineau's project, and the timing felt perfect. Here I am making these new dances for my winter project, feeling open and messy much of the time, and grateful for something so concrete to throw myself into. It's a lucky thing that we always have this opportunity to make things. You should read this great post by my friend Levi about finding motivation to create from our worst places. Isn't that an awesome thought to entertain-- making something great out of the not-so-great?

At this past Small Art, Charles Campbell interviewed an audience member about death and dying, and Kristen Graves sang a song for her friend Tanner who died last year. Samantha Johns and Lucas Koski cemented their breakup after a 3 year relationship-- he cooked tacos in our kitchen, while she read him a 20 minute love letter. I'm not suggesting that art should only be made after intense, high-stakes circumstances. But if you're experiencing a rocky road, why not make something concrete out of the stockpile of feelings? 

I started with a banner for the wall-- construction paper and paints. It was remarkably comforting in all of its vagueness.  

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