Past, Present, Future in-process

I haven’t been really connected to the verbal side of my brain, as I edit and sort through ALL the Iceland-made photographs, working on bringing a group to completion.  It feels like an exercise of keeping the past in the present, but in many ways the calm I felt in Iceland seems to slip away from me with all the day-to-day needs that  distract me.  Why haven’t I written more?  I think a way to pull back my ‘Iceland calm’ into my day-to-day is to carve out a dedicated daily time to write….where do I squeeze that in?….My brain feels stretched in opposite directions, with eyes-wide looking examining and eyes-inside writing.  But like the entire project, I’ll just keep looking for balance, and just keep going to find it.

but anyhow….thinking and working and planning towards the future, too.  In a crazy leap and many small/big things lining up perfectly, we (paul, mandy, hazel) have bought tickets to return to Iceland in January, when plane tickets are $200.  To make work in the dark,  the snow, to freeze crocheted fiber to create structure, to climb on huge ice chunks, to take pictures by fire and Auroras….I am making work for my future too…glacial ice-colored huge thick knits.  Flamingo feathered wings.

Here is a peak at upcoming finished work….I feel a sense of calm in moving pixels and seeing something permanent emerge from a hour of frantic play between Paul and I at Djúpalónssandur, in what seems like long ago but also right with me.

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Bless, Bless Iceland

Bless, Bless Iceland

Breathing

‘Bless’ in Icelandic is what you say when you mean ‘good-bye’.  I scribbled it on a piece of paper (my check book register actually), grabbed almost in panic from my carry-on as I tried to squelch my overwhelming emotions as Iceland disappeared from my eyesight, as our plane home moved into the clouds.  I have been heart-pounding afraid of flying for 11 years, but that seemed completely gone as I kept my eyes wide open to gather every last bit into my brain of an island that has deeply effected and transformed me, transformed Paul, transformed the role of my work in my life and life in my work, transformed my family…and a hundred other things.

Our last half-hour in Iceland: Paul in his crocheted “Invincibility Suit”, begun in 2009, finished in Iceland

The ‘not afraid of flying’ was interesting, and unexpected…I didn’t even know it was going to happen.  But very characteristic of the shedding of many things that took place on our 5-week journey, things we can lump under the umbrella of ‘fear’.  But there I was squealing in delight at seeing the patterns emerge in the lava fields around the airport, and searching and being rewarded with a last glimpse of the Snæfellsjökull, a dear friend (glaciers seem to become friends in Iceland) who has figured so much in the lore we tell ourselves about our first time in Iceland.  ‘We’ here is PaulMandyHazel, and our 5 weeks in August/September, is our first time, because we have all decided to prioritize going back to Iceland many many times.

Hiking up to Snaefellsjokul glacier on the most perfectly clear day ever!

This is not an uncommon reaction to visitors to this island.  But to me it feels like something so deeply unique to my body, like the sparkling crystalline spreading and electrical popping of brand-new ‘falling in love’ that we experience and feels so unique, but has been happening for all of humanity’s existence to most of humanity.  It is the vibrating duality of the utterly singular life and also the archetype we all inhabit.  And what continues to pull my focus in my work, especially when I experience it in such a dramatic way.  Iceland feels ours.  Of course it is really the singular experience of our time together that is ours, the things we learned, the big sweeping clarity of our priorities is ours.  But we bless Iceland as the place we found these things in our family and ourselves.  We are not Icelanders, of course, but as someone who has been rootless my whole life, I have never felt such a sense that I belonged to a place.

We are far from home, but we’re so happy, far from home, all alone, but we’re so happy

It is beyond easy, almost automatic, to ‘ooooooh, and ahhhhh’ in Iceland (almost cliché), at the scenery, the Auroras, the falls, but it is another thing entirely to sit very quiet in yourself and listen not to the grinding workings of your own mind, but to the sound of time, the earth moving, of the massive cycle of water circulating beyond your own bodily reach.  I found myself in the last week we had there, feeling I had now some tiny new understanding of the shape and size of my own body in relation to the sea, to the crust and to the stars, to the dark.  And it was the deep pristine expanding quiet of Iceland that provided the welcoming vessel for this discovery.

Wind Witch at the very edge of the glacier

Paul commented how he didn’t hear another person raise their voice, a siren, a horn honk, an airplane (we heard one or two in Reykjavik), a gunshot (which we hear once a month in our neighborhood, yikes) for weeks.   We both craved and appreciated the long periods of silence possible, and seemed to veer away from noise (i.e. we didn’t partake in the Reykjavik night life this time.) For someone with an incredibly stress-ridden job (a bus driver) and who had just come out of a yearlong struggle with anxiety and panic attacks, Iceland was a long-needed salve and place of productivity for Paul.  And for us both.

Suit in Process at Hellnar

The quiet, the very dark night sky, the air that was sweet it was so fresh, the mossy clean water of the Hvita river I drank from melting glaciers, the sulfur smelling showers, the steaming geo-thermal swimming pools, the kind quiet but lively people, the fresh and simple food…..all of this transformed us, we all felt a greater sense of health and in the end, a  kind of mental clarity.

Drinking at the Hvita River

Paul and I both seemed to shed anxiety (no more insomnia), I actually lost 7 lbs, my skin became very clear, as did Hazel’s (who has been troubled by eczema), trouble with circulation that I had in my arms went away completely.  Anyhow, when you feel physical shifts like this, it’s hard to not feel like you want to stay forever.  And we have, for fun, begun entertaining that idea.  How could we stay forever?  It’s thoughts like that that make you create big shifts in your life.  Big sideways-unexpected shifts.  And we both found in the end, we were hugely productive in our artwork, huge new directions for each of us.  Paul, a renewed connection to being a maker/artist, and for myself the raised consciousness of the great importance of ‘not knowing what I’m doing’ in my process, and embrace it, seek it, savor it.  Thank you Iceland.

My kid glows after 4 weeks of Iceland clean air, clean water, running with sheep and up stream beds, hugging goats, no tv but plenty of Icelandic ghost stories

noticing the same change in my face startled me, when I took a quick picture on the computer…

————————

‘Going south, going sideways’.  Interesting that we use direction as descriptions for failure, when really it is still a journey.  But the past year, really this entire project, has shown me the great power of going sideways, even when I was so very uncomfortable with what I perceived as ‘failing’.  I began conceiving of, and writing my first grant to do this project – to take my partner and kid to Iceland, so we could collaborate on projects related to ‘burden’ – in February 2011.  It seems like since then, things have been going sideways, askew, wrong, south…but then another unexpected way opens up that is actually better, though it has taken me a long time to recognize this pattern.  I had planned to blog about my entire process along the whole way, leading up to and during the project, but that hasn’t always worked out.  It is quite clear to me now in hindsight that creating a project centered around ‘burden, weight’ and involving my family, was my way to try to untangle some very painful and unhealthy things.  And in the middle of that untangling, it seemed very difficult to write about, write about my process that involved repairing my family and myself.  It’s everything that the work was about, but it was totally wrong to share it while going through it.  Still I felt anxious about straying from what I ‘should’ be doing, what I said I was “going to do” with the project.  Things kept on veering from what I ‘should’ be doing, but I kept just going, just sideways, or crooked or diagonal, but still so ill at ease with it.

Sometimes digging our own grave…

But this summer, and about to embark on our trip, I felt ready and eager to be the documentarian!  Despite just getting over an exhausting illness and jet lag, I got right to blogging when we arrived in Reykjavik.  We’d have sporadic internet along the rest of our travels, but I’d share as much as I could in spurts.  A few days in, trying to see so much in the day, work at making/finishing the things I needed for my photographs at night, actually resting….writing was hard.  And then we went horseback riding, really special and exciting…but totally exacerbated an old injury in my spine and hip, and typing became pain-laden.  The last day we were in Reykjavik, I had the choice of going to the geothermal swimming pool at Seltjarnarnes (with outdoor waterslide, geothermal seawater, rich in earth minerals and no chlorine!) or finishing up a blog post.  I chose to sooth my body…very unlike the Seattle me.

…a picture off the internets..I don’t bring my camera to the pools. This place and all the other geothermal pools are reason in and of themselves to go heal yourself in Iceland.

‘I’ll catch up on it later’, I thought.  Well when we arrived at our next destination, Hellnar, the Café across the road that was supposed to have internet, but was closing for the winter in a few days.  I needed to work at night stitching, writing posture at my laptop was killing my neck, and I just was really sick of ‘blog voice’ in my head (where I was noting what I needed to write about as it was happening, composing sentences instead of JUST EXPERIENCING something).  I was staring at a crystal clear blue sky surrounding a little domed glittery glacier and I gleefully shouted “I’m NOT GOING TO DO IT.”  I just set down the idea of blogging about this experience, and decided to whole-heartedly jump into an internet silence.

Resting for as long as we want, next to Snaefellsjokul

After 4 weeks of no internet, I can tell you it was one of the best ideas I had, so healthy for breaking some time-wasting habits, and had incredible results in my piece of mind, focus and productivity.  Everyone should do ‘connection detox’ sometime.  And I’ve always used my camera as a kind of journaling short-hand for myself; I am actually so thrilled to now at home, get to go back through my 3000+images/films and process what we experienced in words, as I cull through all the raw material to make new artworks.  It will be so much richer than a daily log of what we went to and my few thoughts, to now be able to see the experience as a whole, to be non-linear, skip around as I see connections between things, and the re-experience things now that I have time.

Plus I adore the awkwardness of having my ‘goodbye’ blog post be right after my ‘hello’ blog post.  I like doing things wrong.  I like writing long posts (a criticism I’ve gotten…) and I like going at my own, meandering slow pace. I’m a total badass at coasting sideways now.  And I found my spirit animal on our third to last day in Hvalfjordur, a Raven expertly flying sideways in a gale force wind.

In Hvalfjordur, working on something our last 4 days in Iceland, something I had planned to finish the last four days before we left for Iceland…running a little behind…

Our last Thursday of our trip, the day before the last possible day to shoot at a waterfall site I wanted to explore with a new costume I was frantically trying to finish, it started to snow and howl with wind.  I had been at the table too long sewing, my neck hurt and I was missing saying hello to Glymur (more about him later).  I bundled up and went for a walk to find the horse, too windy for him to come up to the top pasture where we lived.  Pushing hard against the wind, getting my face sandblasted by some snow, the huge power lines I went under during my walk were vibrating with an alarming thrilling eerie roar.

Three gentle giants at Bjarteyjarsandur farm, Glymur, Thirik and Shula. Horse friends who would follow us on walks, under the massive power lines

But I heard the raven croaking.  I quickly spun around looking for it, what we all seemed to do whenever we heard the raven sound.  And then he went right over my head, not flapping his wings but balancing like he was surfing on the wind, going completely sideways, with grace and ease, getting a free ride.  He croaked right above my head, as if to say, ‘check it out’.  I then saw my horse-friend walk from around a little hill that was protecting them from the wind, he came over and gave me a horse high-five with his nose, and I said “Bless, Bless Glymur”, thinking it might be the last time I would see him (it wasn’t).  He looked at me hard and soft at the same time, followed me a few steps and went back around the hill to get out of the wind.  And I totally felt completely okay if the weather was too bad to shoot the next day, and I wasn’t able to use the one thing I had been working on the whole time.  There is always enough time for everything, and what is ‘planned’ is usually not as valuable as what needs to happen.

This is Glymur, named after a huge waterfall where the sound of it ‘glimmers’. He is a dear horse who does not like rubbing as much, but would rather look deeply and probe around in your animal soul, which is why we liked each other.

Bless is not literally ‘good-bye’. A blessing is a sort of energy or protection that one person wraps around another, a bit of themselves left behind.  And that is how I feel about this place.  When an Icelander says “Bless Bless”, it is not with the snaky acid “s” that Americans say, but more like a very small whistling wind sucked in and around the mouth.  Icelandic sounds to me both immensely soft and airy, and in the same mouthful rugged and hard edged, so much like the land that formed it.  I miss hearing it everyday.  But not for long!

My all-time favorite mittens ever, the land on the body…It’s killing me that it is not cold enough to wear then yet in Seattle

Good morning Iceland….

Good morning Iceland.   We landed with the rising sun after an insane last few days in Seattle.  Sick people downing gallons of garlic lemonade to get well (that stuff works!), packing up 6 huge suitcases full of half-made art, half-made hopes that it wasn’t all a little bit crazy, cleaning and packing up our house like mad, stowing away pets to different people……  I’m here now, but the beginning of that day, I still didn’t think the clap-trap traveling circus of my mobile art-studio/family drama would really make it all across the ocean.  But we did.  This is a bit of that first day.

waking up as we land, but never really sleeping…

Keflavic, where the airport is, has this stunningly abandoned look to it…I couldn’t sleep this flight and I knew we pretty much had to stay awake another day to get over jetlag and just get done what we had to do.  Get giant bags, keep exhausted 8 year old from breaking down, find rental car, get money…eat, oh yes we forgot to eat for a bit.

Sunrise in Iceland

not even all of our bags (am I insane???)

a little numb and stunned with tiredness, but arrived

We crammed ALL of our stuff into a car that we thought was going to be much bigger (spent some time panicing).  And as planned, drove down to The Blue Lagoon.  As we got closer to it, and I was looking out the window at the oddest landscape I have ever seen, crunchy clinker lava flows piled high upon each other, then covered in pillow thick moss that rounded things out like soft bubbles of green, I started shouting because my camera was buried in the car at the bottom, and it was the most beautiful place I had ever seen!  Then all of a sudden by the side of the road was some bright light blue liquid in all of this, coating the lava rocks white, and we really all three shouted it was so strange and beautiful!  We had arrived at the Blue Lagoon.

getting ready to go in, silly iphone picture doesn’t get the blue of it, but really no picture does…

Which really is the perfect place to go after a long flight.  It’s funny, I didn’t take pictures, didn’t want to and don’t even feel like explaining it.  I didn’t have words, just an animal relief that I could sink into the warm slippery water from the bowels of the churning earth.

Hazel thrilled to find lava wrinkles as we walk around

Rubbing silica mud on our faces, Hazel squealing with delight, Paul laughing and floating in this supernatural water surrounded by lava and moss….it finally felt all worth it, and real.  Finally letting down some effort.  Ate some salmon and potatoes and pickled veggies in our robes, soaked some more.

And then began to drive to Reykjavik….and then the TIRED hit us.  We literally had to pull over half-way there and the boys slept in the car off a little side road, and I climbed a little hill to sit in a lava field.  Already very different than the lava field around the Blue Lagoon area, but my first chance to sit still with myself.  I can’t sleep but in a bed.  I just replaced my 5 year old phone with an Iphone and found myself playing with it up in the field…made this weird little meandering video, but needed to record something, document something.  That threshold between one thing and another.  I sound delirious…and though this is probably boring for anyone else, I like how the sound of my voice seems to get overpowered by the landscape, how the little internal meandering voice in context of a big natural energy seem in conflict.

(I can’t figure out how to post it yet….).

But here’s an image on my first sit in the crackling land.

 

somewhere near Hafnarfjordur, by the side of the road

And despite all the over-stimulating new stimuli, one of my favorite moments was my husband, not giving a shit, doing yoga in the middle of the Seattle Airport.  I was laughing at the way people where looking at him like he was killing chickens, but doing some yoga before you get on a long plane flight is probably the smartest thing you can do.  More people should follow Paul’s lead.


 

The slug-like, cement-blooded, quicksand before we left…

We’ve landed in Iceland…..but this isn’t it.  It’s Lake Crescent in my own sweet Washington State.  Earlier this summer Paul, Hazel and I went to this humming and mysterious body of water, carved out by a glacier and filled with cool pristine clear turquoise water, deep and hidden.

Crater woman

Crater Woman

We went to spend a small few days together after a frantic ride of a big project with not enough time together.  Which seems to be always…It was like Iceland-practice, spend all our time together, making some things, shoot some images and be together, being alone. Paul and I spent some time at dusk playing in the strong wind and the waves, him photographing me wearing one of the costumes for ‘Saltus Chori Aevum’, pressing my hands against the wind back and forth with billowing silk, and him finding ways to make the sun disappear.

I learned a few things while there, which since then have really tumbled forward with momentum in importance.  I realized many, most of my ideas might be impossible…impossibly heavy, large, bulky to transport across the world, and then into a wilder place…on my back.  I have to carry what I want to do on my back, along with gear, etc. One long hike to an incredible old railroad cave along the far edge of Lake Crescent would have been an amazing place to shoot some pictures, but by the time we found the amazing site, it was too far away from my gear and costumes in the car to go back and get them.  I would have to have some really portable options for Iceland or miss some stunning places to work, places we would only be able to walk into.  But (silver lining) I’m now determined to make it back to that cave next summer…

Even so carrying the  billowing silk around the lake side was a relief to the heavy monstrosities I have carried around, nearly killing myself.  I’m tired of killing myself.  I’ll say it again.  I’m tired of killing myself. I’ve been whispering it to myself for awhile during the course of the past year, also feeling like it was a cynical voice, or a lazy voice and so repressing it at times.  But it’s a voice that has been louder in recent days, and I think I just need to be with it.  I’m not lazy, I’m not cynical.  I’m not even cynical when I see really lazy artwork celebrated…I tend to just look away.  I tend to be nonplussed.  But I tend to beat myself up when I feel I’m ‘lazy’ and ‘lazy’ usually means not following my ideas as far as possible,  not impressing people, having simple goals…..sigh.

Perhaps I am here in Iceland to redefine some things for myself.  I’ve known that all along, but what definitions I’m changing keeps shifting.  Can I make potent fulfilling work that isn’t an encompassing experience? Or maybe all ‘encompassing experience’ is something else than I have imagined.  I am a person who is attracted to the quiet, the small, the subtle, the slow.  Maybe these are the qualities I will draw out here.  Because it was not possible to drag huge mantels of stones across the Atlantic Ocean…maybe a richer, better funded artist could have done that.  I had to leave many crocheted rocks at home. I couldn’t afford it, no matter how I stretched and squooze the grant money.  But (duh) I will find more rocks here, and will have to spend my evenings working nets around them….and have to leave them here to meet my weight limit for the plane ride home…something melancholy about this too.

Gateway

Gateway

And that body I’m trying not to kill?  It is teaching me a big lesson.  I have to slow down.  It got sick two weeks before we left…I’m still laboring under fatigue of a lingering cold….and much of what I planned to bring here remains undone.  So the body, slowed down to a rolling stone’s pace, shifted and adapted what I have been imagining for so long.  I will make work here, finish things that I’ve started….and this is probably brilliant, exactly what I needed to do to get out of patterns that are running down.  I HAD imagined being so on top of things, finished costumes, movement scores, story boards, an expert at my new camera (yea Mark II !!), meetings scheduled….even with trimming things down, streamlining,  things seemed to always be getting away from me. Until the final two weeks seemed like when I would have to pull out all the stops and pull all-nighters and be so together something miraculous would happen.  And, bam! I got really sick.  I lay in bed a week before we left and realized I had no other choice but to adjust and bring things with me, sew the feather cape together sitting next to a glacier, rather than having some master plan completed.  My body has forced me to go with the flow…maybe a slow flow.  But I am still moving, and I have to accept it in a different way.  I have to give up my angst about things abandoned, and observe what is actually in my grasp.  I have to trust this will teach me something.

The one huge weight I felt as I lay there sick with a huge impending project undone, I ticked away all the time I spent on things, people, paths that seemed to eat up my time and divert me away from the essentials of this project, distractions I allowed for one reason or another.  There is no use crying over wasted time, I know. I actually find a great deal of productivity in procrastination and mind-wandering activities.  But this is about something different.  I was unable to do anything for a few days, I realized I am going to get very selfish on this trip…I’m going to do what I want to do.  Not what I proposed, or outlined or imagined, or even think I should do.  Just what I want to do.  I’ll abandon quicker what isn’t working and just seek elsewhere.

That sick few days, Paul and I were to meet with Seattle-base choreographer Corrie Befort on developing some movement scores/practices, and I had to stay home while she and he worked together one day.  But I was stunned by something she said as we tried to outline some things for sick me, a way to begin finding a seed of something potent.  Stunned by how righteous it it, and how as a visual artist I shy away from it (or feel I have to or have been taught that I should).  She talked about, just begin with something you are attracted to, something that lures you, attracts you like a magnet, and just begin to work with it before you even know why. I KNOW this is already a lynchpin in my work as an artist, but some part of me is an apologist for it all the time.  Oh, I must know why I am using this seed, I must justify it.  This, right there is sloughing off me…I’m letting this go.  My sick self told me it was okay.  I am here to wander and go towards what attracts me.  So out first day here in Iceland, lazy wandering has been the way….today we napped by some horses (you’ll see….).  I am here to let down some burdens, and I’m going to be pretty militant about it.

Stumbling out of the block:

Thank you Vanessa, thank you Summer Walleye people, for creating a space to work at the thick plug of fear in my throat.  It is working.  I have spent many months afraid to write, write anything.  Even the writing that I have to do to be a ‘professional artist’ seemed like agony, like words would not form from the clouded jellyfish in my mind.

Unpacking and repacking many private family hardships over the last many months, my dear sweet sick husband struggling back through months of an anxiety disorder.  NOT wanting to write about it, I became stuck.  And my own fear that it would creep back, even when things were getting better, like the anxiety had somehow seeped into my bones instead.  I became paralyzed to write about making (or not making) work about weight and burden and labor.  So much pressure…

But as I take steps to set down those burdens, reaching out to things I’ve never tried before, finding different strategies almost at random, I’m seeing this paralysis as a friend to growth.  It just takes a nudge.

It’s like when you can’t get something open, because so much pressure is built up behind it.  And it just takes a nudge, someone else’s hand, running something underwater, or a drop of oil.  And the lid simply comes off with ease.

‘Summer Walleye’ facilitated by Vanessa Dewolf, a free meeting on Sunday morning of anyone who wants to write and move, move to write, write to move, read. Share. try.  Vanessa is director at Studio Current in Seattle, she’s a ‘Dramaturg for Dance, Creative Process Consultant & Feedback specialist’, and this I love what she says about herself –  “what do I want? Is it possible to keep befriending the unknown?
I’m unpredictable.”

I came to this meeting, almost at random, but really how any decision is made is through a build up of experience until the way to go seems like something to fall into.  I saw Vanessa’s piece “Score for an Unrehearsed Ensemble” at NW New Works Festival, and a wave of relief filled me up.  A tipping point.  What I was seeing and experiencing by watching,  is that we are all crazy, all beautiful, all exhausted, all exhilarated.  A beautiful clicking of energies as 40 people move across stage , creating on the spot their reactions to each other, the words, their senses, their own bodies and histories….and I felt like I was pulled into that safe space on the stage to unfold and unwrap.  So then I got out of bed on Sunday, and fell into Walleye, without thinking.

“Score for an Unrehearsed Ensemble”
photo by Bruce Clayton Tom

I have been like the child who has reached the point where they ‘can’t draw’, but I know that is wrong.  I know that everyone can dance, and sing, and draw and walk. I know I can do these things.

I’m going to rest on my Walleye writings, then transcribe them here, whatever they are.  The speed of timed writing after a series of movement exercises unearths energy in a way I need.  Then the resting and the transcribing gives me some time to process and let the words I wrote sink in.  There may or may not be anything worth ‘mining’, but I am quite sure that is where I have gotten myself into trouble this last year…feeling as if every moment has to be visibly productive, like I’m an art worker on an art assembly line.  Will people still respect me if I’m just fucking around?  Yes, duh…and who cares.

I have never at all connected writing and movement, but whenever I have needed inspiration for well-crafted words (when I was young and pretending I would be a scholarly writer of texts), I would walk about the room with my eyes closed seeing the words written in the air, and I would lay on the bed, and something would emerge out of the dark of my mind.  A good sentence, a hook, something that really meant it.  I never noticed my body in the mix of this activity, just the disembodied words.  But I see now it was the visualization from moving my body into an unknown inner space that would unlock what I was looking for.  And I do the same with my work, when stuck for specifics beyond a general direction, I move quickly about then lie still enough to coax an image into my grasp of what I need to make.

At this meeting, in this writing, I see old time-worn Washington Hall as a landscape, and environment, a body to act upon and with.  I also see my own body surfacing, with my focus brought back and back to my grinding crooked bones, the pain in my hip.  At this meeting we began with “journey” – allowing the landscape in front of us tell us where to go. Then we traced with our bodies a site from Childhood and our favorite grocery store.  With writing, we jerked back and forth between these sites when Vanessa told us to jump.

What I have always know is that Childhood is a place I fled, did not belong, not a site of nostalgia.  But I didn’t know Grocery would hold the intimacy of motherhood, of being in love with a child.  What I also didn’t know was after two weeks of these meetings, I feel empowered on my own journey to Iceland, I have new tools to do what I want and tools to find an anchor in the unknown.  I am also most grateful to listening to the timed writing of the other participants, how we diverge and cross back on shared experiences and archetypes. Their imagery, so close to the edge of my own, but with a radical different magic, was like walking in another person’s skin for a few moments.

Summer Walleye in Washington Hall, July 21st

JOURNEY

I arrive

Aimless, to textured veins, to falling apart but staying together.  I arrived to a corner, to a darker place, to an away, from the space, to a stopping point, to a wall, to a place with layers. 

To where others had hid, skimmed the outside, to when energy was only at our backs, to pits of peeling layers had covered meek hands, yet the oils will surface.

To the water. To the time. To the downward desire of the water, the seep, the minerals, the quiet and the noise of all the time that hit the walls.  The rubbing, the hiding, the finding of the soft dark to see others in the center of doing.

And when I left

I pushed myself to go against myself, to go into the space, the place where I wouldn’t usually go.  To just be without walls, without dark, without myself and myself’s walls and see if I could feel anything, feel okay. 

Fine, I feel and it was just fine.  But it wasn’t the destination. Just a space to travel through.  I wasn’t afraid of it, or rejecting it or anything but passing through it.  It did not have me , but I had it.

Along the way

I look from where I started, kept my eyes there and so I did not know where I went, so had to feel where I went.  Had to see it all spread out before me, slowly rocking with my pain, my gait, my lumber. 

And the pattern of the place emerged.  One side led to tiny patterns, to a herringbone, from the ribs of the fish, the bones of the place. To the labor, of the making, of the tradition to small details, of task, of purpose. 

Then every energy played out on top of it all, now worn, but once gleaming in the wood.

Movement

Led by the flat bones, the grinding in my hip to the bones dragging, led the leg pulled by gravity more than no other.  Dull pain moves everything, influences everything but I move anyway.

Try not to do battle with the dullness but more with it.  Let it lead instead of trying to ignore its presence.

Its presence, old pain, old stillness old things.  Born things, usually afraid of them, of the things they take over, how they stop me, slow me down, but I let it lead.

I open my eyes to the lines on the floor, to my hands on the floor, to the waxy hips that seem to ride and navigate around the dull pain, the misplaced bones, the old bones, the rubs, the mishapers, the records of things undone and not cared for, the gifted body unopened, the fluidity unused.  But knowing it is time to embrace, time to open, time to ride out the bones and they will their embrace.

The bones, the stones, the place that will not move.  I will love it, I will remember it to make it know.

That was the first pain the labor took away.

(It feels pleasurable transcribing this stuff, like I can walk through the physical acts again of the exercises and remember processes that helped loosen pathways.  It is very simple, no great earth shattering revelations, but to see the movement experiences naturally translating into both my real experience of the site and the things reverberating in my mind and body, how they blend back and forth between inner and outer world, is exciting to see that revealed and be clear…just by writing quickly after movement with a time limit and no real sense of purpose.

Someone said writing and reading words are in different parts of the brain.  While reading is a wild flourette of sensation and experience, I really only write with a pragmatic purpose.  Not simply to practice, to feel around in that part of the brain that writes…this challenges that.)

Grocery or childhood

Childhood

So empty I could hardly find a way around.   There was nothing in there but the bed, the texture of the cotton woven spread, the wide bed, the bed that took the whole space in its grips, the rough feel of synthetic carpet, the smell of no history of nothing of no one of no energy.  I moved around rectangles and angles, looking for my things, what were my things, things I have no memory of but the ability to let them go.  There was just empty.  But I found the closet that was long and used to be a place to hide, to play.

Grocery

Always always spend spin with the boy, the boy in my arms, the boy

Childhood

Nothing, nothing to start with, with, with alone, but the cat, under the covers

Grocery

We find a place to touch, he leans into my chest, he goes to it, the fruit.  He feels a part of the life that surrounds him.  We go slow, we fill up with the abundance, of being able to choose, of imagining and yearning, of taste of feel. 

To feel together, to get it done that needs to be done, but to be together, to explore, to want, to treat one another, to be naughty.  To make out own choices and remember the gift of small pleasure.  To find peas and chocolate the milk the soaps to smell the wine.  The wine to bring to nights alone.

Childhood

Still, nothing.  Still nothing there.  The bland carpet, the cat jumping, the cat biting, the hidden, the puppet show, the awful agony of putting on layers of long underwear to go in the snow.  To try to see a way to make a world, that isn’t trivial, to everyone, to sneaking about listening for clues that I don’t actually belong there.  That would make sense.  I am bored out of magic, no magic at all.

Practical notes to me:

-take the time and luxury of space to TRACE memory in the physicality of my body…se what is there or not there, NOT making it there, but be in alignment with its absences also.  Give over enough of yourself to find the quiet narrative…

-My head was so warm to the touch, a comfort, yet I never touch my head, though I know that energy flows out of it like a field or a pole above me.  I can make the magic for him, the energy, the intimacy needed for a rich imaginative blooming world.  The layers, the layers of memory, of presence, soft and lonely.

-MOVE in that space like I have a mirror under my nose again,to shift my focus into a space of memory…not memory, but the thread of things knit together that all lead to THIS moment.

-Of being here in this moment, this new situation, I never would have come to except for being LOST, so honor being lost, being brought here by lostness.  Lostness means many other ways are open to me.  All things lead to this, this leads to all things.

finally, the actual route of the journey in Iceland

After so many months of researching, planning, plans falling through, more researching, applying, applying, shuffling budgets, squeezing and massaging budgets, prioritizing some things over others, re-prioritizing, re-prioritizing again…we finally know the route of our journey in Iceland.

Keflavik to Reykjavik to Hellnar to Fljotstunga to Hvalfjordur to Reykjavik to home. August 26 through September 30, 2012

I think by the time we board the plane, I will collapse into a stupor of 7-hour movie watching, and be excited.  I am still a bit dizzying numb.  It has just been a colossal effort of how do I go where I want to, get what I need there, make what I want to use to shoot, to create to experience, make sure home and schooling and pets and everything else falls into place. Many many many people have wonderfully put out a helping hand!  I’ll be excited when this 1000-feather cape I am sewing is being folded into a suitcase, and I’m patting myself down for my passport.

Also, please consider supporting this project financially, however small we are grateful.  One re-prioritization was to focus more and more on the collaboration between me, Paul, Hazel and focus more on film work (ALL big leaps for me and huge learning curves).  Bringing my collaborator Saskia Delores to Iceland hugely supports this growth in my work.  Please consider helping us raise $2022 to cover her traveling expenses. You can donate at Indiegogo.  We genuinely can use every small donation!

I want transformation…

Earth, isn’t this what you want? To arise in us, invisible? Is it not your dream, to enter us so wholly there’s nothing left outside us to see? What, if not transformation, is your deepest purpose? (Rainer Maria Rilke)

Stones and poppies

Stones and poppies

My heart open cracks….Pain, I guess, is what it takes to find a new way.  No wonder so many of us choose to turn to stone.

I am still stuck in a deep hole, but my work, even if playing with the petals from today’s flowers and tomorrow’s stones, and bits and pieces around the studio, and the backyard’s sun, it is still the way I build the ladder out of the hole.  Even if I cannot see the light at the top.  My persistence, even if blind….I cannot stop it.  And it will get me somewhere, some location I don’t yet see.  These petals, from Paul’s poppies, will rot, but today I saw every surface and treated them with care.  This light was mine, and something was completed.