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 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
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.
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
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.
Always always spend spin with the boy, the boy in my arms, the boy
Nothing, nothing to start with, with, with alone, but the cat, under the covers
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.
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.