A couple days ago, a car I was renting was broken into and my belongings were stolen from it. Included in the list of stolen items was my laptop computer which contained a lot of writings I had compiled from my experiences so far in the residency. It also housed a sound piece I have been working on for an exhibit I have coming up in a couple weeks. I have been working on this sound piece for 5 months now and the loss of it was devastating. When I saw the broken window, I ran to the car and crumbled to the pavement when I realized all of it was gone. This work, would never be finished, it would never be heard, it didn't exist anymore. After weeping for over an hour in and out of the house, I posted about it online. A few minutes later, I learned about the massacre of 50 people at a night club in Orlando, Florida. The date was June 12th, 2016.
Loss, is a very hard feeling to contextualize. Asking ‘what does it mean to lose something?’ brings to mind, ‘what does it mean to have something?’ What does it mean to live in a society where you feel accepted? What does it mean to lose that and live in a society where you are persecuted and hunted (even randomly)? It is not a matter of wether or not we appreciate our circumstances; it is a matter of coming to terms with the eventual loss of it as the world is ever-changing, and we are mortal. All we have now will eventually fade away. Our bodies as well as our possessions, the places we live in as well as the people we know. With this in mind, examining what we do have in this very moment becomes an important practice.
I was speaking to Linda Wilshusen about Santa Cruz Scars and catharses - the idea that speaking about strong emotions releases you of it. She brought up the idea of ‘movement’ - expressing that by participating, she didn't exactly feel cleansed of the pain but rather that she had exercised it by engaging and interacting with it. This is a very thoughtful and powerful way of examining trauma. We absolutely do not rid ourselves of the pain of traumatic experiences. By bringing it to the surface and speaking about it, we acknowledge it, engage with it, and then set it down. We may feel less affected by it, but it follows us. There are times when we forget about it until we are triggered and all of a sudden, there it is again!
With daily reminders of pain all around and within us, it is very important to recognize resilience and change. Pain, loss and death are inevitably part of the world we live in. But, so are joy, growth and beauty. It is true that I live in a world where my possessions can be stolen from me, and I can be randomly gunned down. It is also true that I live in a world where my community is not being bombed. It is a world where I have many resources readily available to me. A world where I can move around freely and make plans for a future. It doesn't make the pain of loss any less potent. It doesn't make the fear for my safety go away. But by acknowledging these realities together and individually when they come to the surface, I can be free of them when they are not in front of me. By practicing acceptance of the world as it evolves and revolves around and through us, we can allow ourselves to grow and change as we move about the world.
I wish you a balanced view of your world this week.