Saturday, March 1, 2014

Be Water

Since my last post, I have spent two weeks in Minnesota and nine days in Arizona.
While in Arizona, I saw several relatives that I see very little of. The question came up "How is California?" And I had to tell them I had left. And this very interesting statement came out of me, "I was burnt out." I had never thought that or said it out loud. It is true. For five years, I have proved to everyone that I can SUCCEED as an artist. Giving every breath, every second, every thought to my forward movement in this world. EVERY MOMENT. No real life of my own. I enjoy rolling around in thought. In learning the process of art theory and practice. I wanted to be accepted as one of them. One of the important artists of the world. Being in LA meant I was committed to my future fame and my current importance. That is a big weight to carry.

So I decided very abruptly to leave. With hopes of continued collaboration but I wanted a different life than I was living. It still makes me feel anxious. Like I am throwing away my title of "artist."Like I am throwing away my life. So I enter Minnesota slowly. Staying at my parent's house is an isolated spot. Where I feel a bit impotent to get anything done. I don't drive so my work is all virtual. I go to the city to see friends once a week. This makes me feel sane and like I have my own life separate from my family. It also makes me go a bit crazy because I want to be living that separate life away from my parent's house every day. It causes a few panic attacks. BUT I realize I am one lucky girl to have a family that wants me to recollect and organize myself in their house. It is a gift. With this, I am going through boxes of old possessions that have been stored in the basement. I am preparing myself to empty their house of my belongings. Finally.

I have been thinking a lot about vulnerability. About how I have made myself very vulnerable doing this thing called life the way I am. It even extends to this blog and how I write so openly. Most people see it as weakness. And unfortunately, I have allowed myself to believe this. That sharing the underbelly of life. Telling you of not just my greatest strongest moments but the hard work that goes into them, even if it includes a respite in my old room in my parent's house. Well, I am not weak. I am water.

What do I mean? I am WATER?!?!? As I am applying to jobs in Minneapolis, I am talking to my art folks. And it is amazing how life swirls around in circles. While in undergrad, there was an effervescent, lively, passionate woman who I would shoot the shit with in the hallways of our student center. As a woman of color, she pushed my suburban sheltered Caucasian brain to not worry so much about if people thought I was racist but rather know that my empathy and love of all people would shine through. A friendship was born. I have been away for ten years from those moments in the student center. But Saymoukda picked up the phone this week and said exactly what I needed to hear.
"There is an old Lao saying my mother uses 'Be water.' You are like water, Paige. You go where you are nourished." In that moment, my defenses went down. This woman could still see the honor in the path that I had chosen. That I was listening to myself and that I could trust the winding path my life has taken. For a few minutes, elation streamed through my veins as I recognized my years of training as an artist, as a curator, as a event coordinator, as an administrator and that it all has meaning. I didn't look down on myself as a thing of failure. Though culture repeatedly stifles the work of women artists. Though I am paid less then my male counterparts. Even as I am looked down upon for not owning a house or having a husband. I don't play by many rules and that can be a lonely place.

So I am playing the waiting game. What does water look like while it waits? Water swirls, it settles, it sinks, it splashes, it freezes, it thaws, it lets' the silt settle. Remembering everything seems more important because I am in this transitional space. The panic comes in waves. The pain riles up the silt and then I let the silt settle. Over and over again. Applying for jobs. Reading "Dune." Freaking out about liking someone who doesn't like me or possibly does or definitely doesn't or possibly does or... Meditating. Thinking about career shifts. Planning workshops in LA, I hope to attend in a year's time. Trying NOT to make decisions for once, just rolling through my waves of desires to see what I really want when things settle.

While visiting my grandparents in Arizona, I was swimming in the pool. I had my goggles and pink floral swim cap on. I was just pushing off the edge of the pool and swimming underwater to the other side. I was all alone. The sun created the most amazing light wave ripples on the bottom of the pool. As I pushed off I watched them shimmer. Watching my silhouette gracefully cut it's form across the bottom of the pool. There is nothing more beautiful to me than water. In darkness or light, I could stare at water, listen to water, and be in water and never grow tired of the sublime feeling that comes over me. Little rainbows appeared on the waves reflections. I wondered if there is anyone else in the world that contemplates like this. Diving under to commune with light and water? After quite awhile, anywhere from 5 minutes to 15 minutes, I abruptly stopped my swooping, bubble making, intense staring, to enter back into "life" and got out of the pool.

What has terrified me the past two years, is that the passion, buzz, excitement, I have fed myself on is gone. It seems while cutting out my bad behaviors, I have cut out the space for wondrous contemplation. I am no longer a binge eater. I exercise. I eat a hell of a lot better than I ever did before. These things make me feel calm and balanced. They do not fill me with desire and make me dance around the room. I have erroneously placed my ability to stare at water in the category of artifice. I am now looking at life from a far less anxiety ridden state but also a more sedate state. This week, I allowed myself to eat pizza with my Dad. Thinking of the passion in which I used to cram slices of pizza in my month. I took two squares of Detello's and squeezed them into my mouth. Remembering how this used to send a buzz through me. A shot of adrenalin and a comfort. I felt neither of those things. I just had an old memory of them. I just hoped my lactaid pill would help me not pay for this indiscretion.

I am waiting to allow myself a space to play. A space where I am fed by my desires not wrecked by them.   I am enjoying not feeling frightened all the time and not using fear to propel me forward. In my daily life I have cut out my obsessive devouring and replaced it with a calmer Paige. But how do I feel passion now? Looking deeper, I am finding myself saying, "I don't know what I really want." Instead of then panicking, I am learning to say "And that is okay." I already have the characteristics of water in me. Now I just have to ride the waves. 

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