There is nothing like having 2 button up shirts, a handful of tshirts, enough leggings to go with it, a sweater, and a backpack stuffed with a swimsuit and toiletries. For about a year, I lived out of a backpack. I cherish my denim shirt with anchors on it. It started out a deeper shade of denim. Yellow sweat marks crease where arm pit meets sleeve. I wore that shirt out…beet juice, ink, mystery stains lithely dot the edges.
For about a year, I took to the road. I performed. I played. I rested. I made a book with a dear friend. In one years' time, I expanded my view of what the world can be. I bumped up against societal edges of proper daily life. There was one or two fights. Mostly, there was a feeling of ease as I explained what I needed and was loved in returned. In one month's time I saw dear old friends and they created the dearest art project with me called, "Walk with ME." They brought in strangers to walk with me. They walked with me too. Homes were shared. Air mattresses were inflated. Baked oatmeal was shared. Thank you meals out at restaurants were bought by me. Train rides and the dreaded greyhound was used.
I saw their skylines. I dodged pot holes. I drank tea. What a gift that was. A gift to go from house to house, friend to friend, being treated carefully and considerately in each spot. Every place I felt more and more present. Able to speak my truth and have it celebrated. Barring one real rocky interaction. My excitement about life was met with the same. I never think about me as a force. Growing up, I was taught in thousands of ways to try to be invisible. But I felt the ripple effect of my ease at being a positive energy brought to others lives. i could shake things up so others could make changes. Or on a smaller level it was sure nice to hug my old friends while I was changing my life.
I ripped myself out of Los Angeles. Out of an abusive job. Out of the burn out that was reeking havoc on me. I wanted to do it differently. So I jumped on so many planes and I connected to people. I listened to their stories. We wrote them down. I saw the hearts of many. I felt the fear and felt it subside of the people I walked with. Obviously this last year is a life changer. I had spent 32 years following what others told me I needed to do to be a famous artist. I did it very well. Now I need to be an artist and a person who does things out of pure excitement and the need to discover. (This was in many of my past actions but got clouded up my perspective of needing to be rewarded.)
I have grabbed up life in all it's intensity. After finishing "Walk with ME," I was waiting to be punished. I had quit my job. I have left my life. Wasn't someone going to be mad? How was I going to get a job again after only working part time at the gallery in between arts gigs? I wasn't making enough money to keep that up. I didn't want to pay $1200 for rent every month while trying to make art in LA. How was I going to BE SOMEBODY if I wasn't in LA? Where was my life?
So the question is how can I take the Paige I cultivated on my tour; the Paige that created so many firsts this past year, into the present? How can I keep fighting cultural norms that say we have to live a certain way? I have to make money unless I join a religious order or commune. I like living alone and having certain creature comforts. I am very independent and though the gifts of this last year were many that I couldn't repay. I don't feel comfortable asking to live on the generosity of others…So where does that leave me?
Luckily, I have found a great job doing something that I feel is helpful, challenging, and creative. What a blessing that is! I will start working for a fantastic non-profit. Where I will help people learn media production skills. Wow! That will be great. It will pay my just enough to get by in Minneapolis. I am scared of next winter and how I will deal with it.
When I was young there was no limit. I thought I could be or do anything. I am stubborn and passionate and made things happen. Now as I age I see the limitations and I get tired…with my integrity does not always come monetary rewards. That I probably won't have the time or money to travel one month out of of the year every year. I get really depressed by the thought of limitations. I get depressed with the idea of I can't have.
What I am hoping for this time where I settle is that I will find the depth of relationships I have been skirting. That I will find communities that give me just as much enjoyment as a Perugia skyline or a Los Angeles sunset. That I will start to look inward and keep nurturing the spiritual power I found sitting in meditation in California. That I can really believe that where I am from is just as beautiful as those places marketed to be so. That I can continue to get inspired and learn.
In an ironic funny twist, I am turning 33 on Easter. Now Jesus was 33 when he died and rose to heaven. I am agnostic. Jesus, to me was an amazing, amazing role model for all of us. I find it really really amazing that I start my 33 on this spiritual note. Turning 33 on Easter! Jesus died for the sins of others. Now that is a life of sacrifice. He wasn't worried what others thought of him or his bank account. Not only that, he spent a lot of his time making others feel better and bringing them to a place of solace (God). If I can take this next year to continue to grow to shed away what I think others want me to do and get to what I find important and helpful to others. This will be a year well spent.
I have been meditating for about an hour a day for 4 months now. In December, I did a Vipassana retreat where for 10 days I had my eyes closed more than open, day in and day out. I learned an immense amount in a short amount of time. With meditation and my extreme year of living, I have calmed down quite a bit. Other people have noticed. My friend and mentor Laurie for one. I volunteered to be a guide for a friends awesome art event at a local museum where we will lead people to find answers to their questions by using the museum as an oracle. Or as I explain to my friends, a big Ouija board. I have done this with my friends for about 5 years. Laurie led us in a training to get ready to lead museum goers the April 26th weekend and she said, "I have talked to you on the phone for all the years you were away but I will have to get used to having you around in your body."
We kept talking and I asked if it is because I had changed so much? And she said yes.
I said, "I know I am a lot calmer now."
She said something to the effect of, "You got that right!" :)
With the calmness, I hope and think I have stripped away some of the anxiety and desperation that clung to me when I was younger and that possibly I can come off a tiny bit wise. If anything there is a presence that I carry now that isn't a burden but rather an open space for others to enter.
This year brought me to calm. I wore myself out. I proved I could do it. I took a step back. I failed. I succeeded. I ran a half marathon. I performed my first piece I directed. I printed my first Artist Book. I quit a job. I got a job.
Like waves, things come in, things come out, people arrive, people leave, anxiety rushes in, anxiety rushes out, the rhythm doesn't stop. No matter how hard we hold on. The great thing is with each person I connect with the passion and love that is exchanged has a resonance and it lives on. As I move back to Minnesota I am finding that some resonances still has a hummm to them that can be picked back up where we left off. With others it may be over or it may be just beginning. Maybe I will return to LA someday, maybe I won't. I'm scared and I look forward to creating a new song for today.