Friday, August 27, 2010

"How does one become a butterfly? You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar." - Trina Paulus

I am very excited to be able to say that I have hit the 70 CHAIR MARK!!! It seems like only yesterday that I embarked upon this installation project with the goal of creating 105 chairs in the "Waiting" series, and I am seeing the end in sight! I am still very much engaged in the piece, although I thought I would bore of it quickly. Although the number 105 has come up frequently in my life, I am seriously considering making 108 chairs.

Religion and the arts

The number 108 is considered sacred in many Eastern religions and traditions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and connected yoga and dharma based practices. For example, Hindu deities have 108 names. Recital of these names, often accompanied by counting of 108-beaded Mala, is considered sacred and often done during religious ceremonies. The recital is called namajapa. Accordingly, a mala usually has beads for 108 repetitions of a mantra. Likewise, Zen priests wear juzu (a ring of prayer beads) around their wrists, which consists of 108 beads.[1]

Japa Mala, or Japa beads, made from Tulasi wood. Consisting of 108 beads in total + the head bead.
The Lankavatara Sutra repeatedly refers to the 108 steps many temples have.[2]
However, in Tibetan Buddhism it is believed that there are 108 sins. And in Japan, at the end of the year, a bell is chimed 108 times to finish the old year and welcome the new one. Each ring represents one of 108 earthly temptations a person must overcome to achieve nirvana.
According to Marma Adi and Ayurveda, there are 108 pressure points in the body, where consciousness and flesh intersect to give life to the living being.
The distance between the Earth and Moon is 108 times the diameter of the Moon
The distance between the Earth and Sun is 108 times the diameter of the SunThe diameter of the Sun is 108 times the diameter of the Earth

I am thrilled that I have been staying committed and driven to create at least 2 chairs daily. It is a wonderful discipline, a true meditation.  I do find my self having to fight the worry about what I will do once the piece is finished. The challenge for me is to stay in the moment while creating each chair. They each seem to embody a different personality and each tells me a story. I have also created different "chapters" of chairs, with their chapter names, that are I am inscribing into the backs of each chair. This is a process that was not planned or intended, but just evolved. I am also actively collecting things that call out to me to sit upon each chair, as well as exploring the ways that I will incorporate text that I have collected through my dance, onto certain chairs. I look forward to the firing that will come sooner than I anticipated, although I will be away from the piece before I complete it when I go to Florida. I am sure I will collect many things, be they found objects, emotions and/or stories, that I will bring home and use to complete the final chapter of "Waiting".......

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Humpbacks- by Mary Oliver

Last night's dance was as delicious as always, always different. I suppose partly because when I show up, I too am different each time. I had a headache before going and was hesitant about whether I should just sit the night out and stay home. I am so glad that I chose to go. I arrived early, having beat the traffic, and got to be the one to select the line that we would all share the dance with. I blindly picked the hidden line "longing to fly while the dead-weight bones." I just loved the line. How could I not. It spoke to me deeply as it always does, maybe even more deeply than usual. Feeling weighted down with life as it happens, worrying about my mom and her health and feeling like I want to have the power to "fix it" to make things different from what they are, yet knowing that this is not possible, nor is it within my power. The weight of family worry, health worry, is so heavy that it is palpable inside and outside my body. I long to let go of the many emotional restraints that feel like dead weights on my limbs. To let go, surrender to what is and to be able to release and fly regardless of what is happening in life. The longing to be able to change what is, and the wisdom to know the difference between what I have the power to change and what I have to learn to accept. It seems as though the lines go deeper and deeper into my soul, and seem increasingly relevant to me. I am always surprised... yet not really. I have come to know and love the poetry and the dance, and how they dance with each other, and then how they invite me into their dance. I felt very rooted and strong and heavy in the dance, yet for some reason, the heaviness did not feel paralyzing like I thought it would.  The music and the words began to increase in their pace and depth, moving me, lifting me, into an ever growing powerful dance with a certain growing lightness. The lightness was a powerful lightness. I felt less like I was fighting the movement and more like I was being lifted by it. I felt full, rich. I left with a decidedly lighter, more empowered, unencumbered feeling. How healing the dance is to me. 
I both feel as if I have been dancing my entire life, yet wonder how I ever survived before I began Ecstatic Dance less than four years ago? It heals me and helps me in ways that words can't begin to describe. Sometimes you can know it, identify it, sometimes you can feel it, and sometimes you have to just dance the unknowing of it. Oh how I love to dance!!

"There is, all around us,
this country
of original fire.
You know what I mean.
The sky, after all, stops at nothing so something
has to be holding
our bodies
in its rich and timeless stables or else
we would fly away.
Off Stellwagan
off the Cape,
the humbacks rise. Carrying their tonnage
of barnacles and joy
they leap through the water, they nuzzle back under it
like children
at play.
They sing, too.
And not for any reason
you can’t imagine.
Three of them
rise to the surface near the bow of the boat,
then dive
deeply, their huge scarred flukes
tipped to the air.
We wait, not knowing
just where it will happen; suddenly
they smash through the surface, someone begins
shouting for joy and you realize
it is yourself as they surge
upward and you see for the first time
how huge they are, as they breach,
and dive, and breach again
through the shining blue flowers
of the split water and you see them
for some unbelievable
part of a moment against the sky —
like nothing you’ve ever imagined —
like the myth of the fifth morning galloping
out of darkness, pouring
heavenward, spinning; then
they crash back under those black silks
and we all fall back
together into that wet fire, you
know what I mean.
I know a captain who has seen them
playing with seaweed, swimming
through the green islands, tossing
the slippery branches into the air.
I know a whale that will come to the boat whenever
she can, and nudge it gently along the bow
with her long flipper.
I know several lives worth living.
Listen, whatever it is you try
to do with your life, nothing will ever dazzle you
like the dreams of your body,
its spirit
longing to fly while the dead-weight bones
toss their dark mane and hurry
back into the fields of glittering fire
where everything,
even the great whale,
throbs with song.
~ Mary Oliver ~
When Meshi read the entire poem to us after the dance, another line breached out of the poem, so to speak, and touched my soul~~

"I know several lives worth living.
Listen, whatever it is you try
to do with your life, nothing will ever dazzle you
like the dreams of your body,"

I will have to remember this line and try to dance it more in my life.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sleeping In The Forest

Last night at dance, the magic and mystery once again unfolded. Mary Oliver's words never cease to amaze me,and I am always awestruck by how relevant her words are to me. The line that chose me for the evening, in this richly beautiful poem was;

"but my thoughts, and they floated 
light as moths among the branches"
I was conflicted about the word I would choose to reflect on in my personal dance. I wanted it to be "floated", "but my thoughts" were competing. I decided not to decide, and to let the dance be what it needed to be. I had so many emotions swirling around in my head, that I decided to surrender to them and to allow what needed to be, just be. We  began our dance with waiting, listening. When I was ready to have the music move me, I surrendered to it. I felt myself floating above my thoughts. I did not fight the ever present chatter, but instead allowed it to flow, and so flowed my dance. I felt very rooted, and tree like, yet light and floating above myself. Towards the end, standing tall and strong, my arms were suspended in mid air. I tried to raise them up toward the sky, but I felt such a powerful resistance that was incredible. No matter how hard I tried to lift my arms reaching toward the sky, something palpable was in my way. Was it something inside of me, inside my head or was it an outside force? It felt larger than myself. I felt the weight of my emotions heavy upon my arms. It was an amazing feeling. Not good, not bad, just heavy. I had to decide not to fight it, but to surrender to what was, at that moment, in that space, in that body. After what seemed like an eternity, the heaviness lifted and I began to relax into the final dance as it winded down to a natural ending. I felt spent, I felt heavy, I felt sadness, I felt light, I felt and feel confused. Surrendering to what "is", is not nor has ever been easy for me. I wondered if it is truly easy for anyone? How do I make my life more like my dance? More of a surrender to what I do not have control of, and in doing so, ironically begin to feel as if I have more control over my life. I reflect upon whether the dance is my body and mind's way of processing my life, or if my life is what creates my dance. I suspect that it is a bit of both. Sometimes there is no answer, it is in the searching that the answer might possibly be revealed. Perhaps, the answer is right in front of me, but I can't see it yet? Perhaps.................
Sleeping in the Forest    
I thought the earth remembered me, she
took me back so tenderly, arranging
her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds. I slept
as never before, a stone
on the riverbed, nothing
between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated 
light as moths among the branches 

of the perfect trees. All night
I heard the small kingdoms breathing 
around me, the insects, and the birds
who do their work in the darkness. All night
I rose and fell, as if in water, grappling
with a luminous doom. By morning
I had vanished at least a dozen times
into something better.
~~Mary Oliver~~

taken by Winky at Breitenbush 2010

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Mothertree Project Closing Performance

On Friday night, I had the honor of being a part of the performance at the closing event for artist Helen Heibert's  Mothertree Project. It was an incredibly moving experience for me in more ways than I could have imagined. When I first saw the "dress" months back, I was so deeply moved, that when I had the opportunity to be a part of the closing event, I did not hesitate. I participated as a crocheter and was able to hold space as a witness for the dress and the dancers, while crocheting in a circle surrounding the tree, as well as be an active part of the performance. Tracy Broyles, the choreographer accompanied by two supporting dancers  and the six crocheters, represented a beautifully rich diverse age span of women, as well as wonderfully vibrant  young boy who rounded out the group that truly felt like a circle of life. The things that it brought up for me were pretty profound. When I first arrived at the event, I could not believe that my hands had forgotten how to crochet, since I have been unable to do this and other things for the past 3 1/2 years due to pain and 3 wrist surgeries. It is amazing to me that the muscle memory had faded. I felt tremendous anxiety. I had to reach out and ask a fellow crocheter to show me how, and it immediately came back to me as second nature. The brain is a fascinating machine to say the least!
Surrounding a mother earth tree related so personally to my own sculptures and my deep connection and identification with my own motherhood. Then the movement and weaving around the tree, the traditional Maypole dance revisited, which made me think of my childhood with annual Mayday Maypole dances at the local park, which I always loved. Then it made me hold my son Adam in my heart in celebration, since he was born on May 1st, Mayday, 31 years ago. And lastly, and most deeply moving for me was the thoughts about my own mother. She is now 90. She had just canceled her scheduled trip to visit us, since she is not feeling that her health will be supported, traveling this long distance from Florida. She is filled with fear that she will not be able to be with our entire family ever again. We are all filled with sadness and trying to accept this possibility. She was not only coming to visit, but to escort her newly finished crocheted afghan quilt that she made for Adam and his new bride Tiffany. This is her last quilt, since her arthritis is causing her too much hand pain. It was very important to her that she make them this blanket. She has crocheted my entire life. Sweaters and afghan blankets to keep me from the cold, and blanket me with love, throughout the many stages of my life. I have never crocheted more that a misshaped scarf, since  I know nothing more than how to do a basic chain stitch.
The entire event made me think about the circle of life, threads that join us, the chains that bind us,  and the fleeting fragility of life itself, and along with that, the letting go. I am richer for having been a part of this experience.