“..last year the pipe to the barn froze in February and didn’t thaw again until May 15. Nothin’ I could do about it, so we hauled water…”, said the farmer beside me in the feed store. Of course then I added my story of hauling 30-60 litres per day depending on house activity, “…well over 300 houses now, and everyone on our street just has to wait ’til April…”
“Water guys are out there 24/7 I hear, losing battle against frost though. City water bills might be a tad lower now (chuckle…)”
A version of this conversation is shared every hour or so across town and in barns & kitchens. So and thus the February freezes of 2014 and 2015 are woven into our local history.
I still haul 30+ litres of water a day, cook only simple meals that don’t waste alot of water (I cringe at the thought of boiling pasta or potatoes now), and flush our toilets with a bucket. Somehow, the fact that I can go outside in shoes (not boots) and with only a sweater on is helping. Faucets that actually run with water could be weeks away but the thaw has begun, and that makes all the difference.
We may not need to wait that long. City staff (the heroes!) have knocked heads with a local engineering firm to devise a temporary solution for our little street that may have me in a hot bath by the end of next week. Woot.
Water falls – either river or rain – speak a whole spectrum of the Language of Wet, from soft drip & trickle to pounding slam-hard powerful. I’ve come to believe that all are profoundly healing in the long run – even Tsunami, Hurricane, Cyclone. Sometimes tragically so, painfully so – but real healing is like that.
There are ponds, pools, tiny lakes and great lakes, oceans of deep and old – ever renewing collectors of water. There are aquifers deep and ancient, vast and secret reservoirs of …. memory?
Memory that cools, grounds, sinks and dissolves into something the stars might sing.
I’m thinking about water, and how it feels like a physical and emotional home to me. It is at root a promise of renewal – immerse, let go of air for a moment, alter the pull of gravity, of time; extend the reach and timbre of sound so you feel … lifted, suspended, embraced. Resonant. Dissolved, for a moment.
To rise again into the mantle of gravity, air, task, focal point, verbal articulation, but cleaner, clearer.
Water stands, too, in those places where the amphibians go and humans do not, where toxicity is dissolved. I think of wetlands as precious, timeless places. Perhaps Chronos lives there, listening.
The sound of water falling – rhythmic & repetitive, whether it’s a drip or a roar – is the soundtrack of our days.
There’s an idea that water is a collector of Story – from us, from flora and fauna, from sky and sun. Horrific stories- catastrophic, miraculous, impossible – but also mundane, incidental, apparently unimportant.
I’m going to paint this. We live in times of deep and profound change, all over the planet. No culture, country, community or person can avoid being confronted by this, and by the deep fears we all experience, collectively and privately, in reaction.
As predicted, each painting for #Selfie has had it’s own arc of becoming. They have all been surprises, have all taught me things I wouldn’t otherwise know. It’s been a privilege to be at the centre of this project and participate in the discovery, the shaping and polishing of each facet. Quite a geological process – I am changed by it, I know.
I sat down to pull the book together and realized that even though the whole project has a broader, wider arc I was still inside it, making. Still in process, still on the curve…
It became clear over the days of showing up for writing that this lovely broad #Selfie arch also had a corresponding shadow. As I walked along this one it became narrower, and darker, and steeper – in descent.
Then I realized, “Ah. This is personal now.”
also, “Ah. This is writing of Book”.
#Selfie has been a great collaborative experience – music, performance art, spoken word, poetry, well-considered response and story. Ron de Boer and staff, david sereda, Kristan Anderson, Larry Jensen, Coco Love Alcorn, Christopher McGruer, Paul Hartmann, Christian Wilke, Marcus Vichert, Norm Bell, Thom MacFarlane, Kate Walsh, John Fearnall, Brad Morley, Frank Klaassen… so many more who climbed in and on to add thought, response, notice, rhyme, feeling, rhythm, comment. Highly resonant, this idea of examining #Selfie.
Did I think it had already got personal, in the making of the paintings? Yes. Yes I did think that.
But the paintings were one of five components to #Selfie. There was also the collaborative performance; the collaborative spoken word; the blog (the way in to the paintings); and the book. The book is the larger arc – both visible and public, and invisible, personal. Not a compilation (though I thought that’s what it would be), not a summary or a closing paragraph. It has elements of those ideas, but the book needed to be a distillation of the experience into something …chewable.
So I wrote a folk tale.
It begins this way,
A girl was born with a sleeping wound buried deep inside her. She also had joy, which was clear for anyone to see.
While she was growing up, her family, who loved her very much, gave her another wound to keep, and buried it deep in her future. They also gave her love, which was clear for anyone to see.
They made the wound they gave her out of pieces of their own memories, fragments of their parent’s arguments, scattered bits of rage and anger that they had collected from behind the doors and under the carpets, in the chesterfield beneath the pillows, under the beds, under the kitchen sink. they put all of their hopes and dreams for her in the wound, and wrapped it all up in a beautiful cloth made from their love.
That was the way it had happened for them, the way it had always been, and the way it would always be.
I’ve loved the essential nature of Folk Tales for as long as I can remember. They don’t mess around with descriptive filler or emotional drama, but deliver metaphor in layers which the reader can take in and combine, to build their own image and intuitive response. Always I’m trying to do this with my paintings. This last #Selfie painting more than any of the others – possibly because of the book writing, and the Folk Tale…
When the time came for the girl to leave her parents and seek her fortune, everyone agreed that she was well-prepared. Beautiful and full of life, promise, intelligence and talent, it was clear that she would have no trouble finding success, fulfilment, happiness and love.
And so she did. As the years passed, everyone who knew her was reassured by the clean arc of her life, since This was the way it had happened for them, The way it had always been, The way it would always be.
She herself was happy, content and grateful for the comforts she enjoyed, until she came to the day in her future where her parents’ gift was buried.
Today from 6 until 8pm we will launch the book and this final #Selfie painting. The show will come down on August 8th, and then #Selfie will be in Chapter Two, which I’ve not written yet, but I shall. Here’s the link to that event if you’re nearby & on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/748736241853940/
The story to be told there is a more introspective one – it’s mine, certainly, but also it belongs to anyone who is pulled to #Selfie Examination. Good heavens there are riches there – fragility; audacity; strength; disempowerment; blind, mute sadness; singing joy; risk and nourishment. It behooves one to keep walking down the path….
In the story, the girl meets a Hermit. Then she meets the Great God Pan. Then she meets Baba Yaga, and ….
Well, write to me if you want the rest of the story. It belongs, I think, to all of us.