Sunday, October 30, 2011

I find myself wishing to be all 'Ground Hog Day' for last weekend (the movie not February 2nd). I took part in a summit that was focused on Art, faith and justice. About 40 creatives were invited to spend Friday night and all day Saturday at the most magical location, Bo.ttega, it was put on by Tribehouse collective. I'm short on words for describing the experience, it's something that I'm feeling in my cells.... the absolute goodness of being surrounded by people who heard the creative call and are living it in every way. The incredible, live music swirled around that big open room and rained back down, connecting us with each other. It was/is collaboration in it's purest form..... to just sit in communion and be fully present. Maybe that's the art? Not a piece of work in it's finished form but the ever flowing, growing, shifting creative story being told when we sit together and really listen.
I listened with all of myself.
What does it mean to be part of a community when you've been solitarily struggling through life. I'm not good at connecting and collaborating, it usually gives me a migraine. Somehow things are different now and my yellow brick road is on a trajectory toward Loving and experiencing people. I have real friends, a team and I realize when I look back on the last couple of years that I'm not alone anymore. If you're a healthy soul this may sound like small potatoes but if you're like me; hyper-sensitive to the pulse of the Earth you may understand. I have lived my life trying so hard not to need anything from anyone but, in the words of Margaret Fuller, "Two persons love in one another the future good, which they aid one another to unfold."

Friday, October 28, 2011

I'm watching a documentary on The Knowledge Network about a choir of seniors singing classic rock songs such as schizophrenia, Forever Young and one by the Doors. They travel to many countries, they practice and they form bonds with each other. In one scene they are performing at a prison for a bunch of tough looking, male inmates. The performance is dignified even though the performers are wearing bright blue ball caps in a somewhat undignified location. It's so moving to watch the looks on the viewers faces, how they respond to the different songs, fast or slow, smiles and tears. they grin happily at the end of the show and say, "that's the best show I've ever seen". It's a beautiful thing to see this group Love each other through death, aging, illness and the fun they're having.
"You don't get out of this life alive",  Is what one fellow says. He has oxygen tubes in his nose. The next scene is him strutting a music video as lead singer on 'Stayin Alive' (still with the oxygen). The scene after that another member of the group drops dead of cancer.

So often I ask that adolescent question that goes something like this, "why?" But then I have a day like today where things just make sense. I taught my first class at The Kelowna Art Gallery which feels something of a milestone. I had a yummy espresso at GioBean (a must if you like really good italian style java.) And, best of all I did all those fun things with my Mom.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A terrifying scenario: I'm shaking today so that when I draw, the lines are squiggly. When I stand up the room spins a bit, just until I adjust to the upright position. When I'm with other people I try to control the shaking and the shaking gets worse. I wonder what it must look like that I tightly cross my arms and attempt to hold my head from looking like Parkinson's.  This is what it is to have Bi-Polar II. To be mostly out of control of your faculties. To wonder if you can hold a pen or paintbrush, to sense that your bladder might give way at a completely inopportune moment  or to know that everyday you will make poor decisions that circularly lead back to shaking. The hardest part is looking backwards and seeing the clear and steady path toward mania and realize you were the last one to see it. And to be overtaken by an evil and wicked force that makes the world feel hostile, hellish. When you begin to screw up and lose control you wonder if you will have a friend or a mainstay ever again. It's so easy to forget that you've been here before and you got through it..... it's a tunnel shaped like a funnel and as you methodically stride in the direction of the narrow end it's impossible to see the goodness of creation. I suppose this is where the 'Bi' in it lives, that the up becomes the down. You can't really have one without the other you can only hope that with experience it isn't as black as the last time...... the 'jaws of the black dogs' will release a bit easier than the last time. To choose Love over Fear is what I wish for today, only that. When the fear is Goliath and behemoth and the Love is a tiny speck, I have to rely on the word of those around me and have blind faith that these thoughts are lies.

I'm choosing transparency and full disclosure, this time, so that the others.... my partners in mental illness can feel camaraderie.  I know, we frighten you in our unpredictability, intensity, electricity. But, I can tell you that for the first time in 45 years I understand that I belong and I deserve to hold a space regardless of my craziness. Go ahead, be threatened but know that I am here to mirror something in you; your own craziness maybe or creativity, instability or need for compassion. I am here to feel deeply the details of the pulse of the Earth and then to bring them back up as art for you to see. It's my job and the penalty is that sometimes the layers of overwhelm overtake, my brain is a soup of swirling ideas and my body is not my own to navigate this place.

I do wish for someone who won't be afraid of me and who can see that these times are when the genius resides and bubbles over. Someone who will see, for me, when I can't, that I can blow the top of sanity for a short while in order to make something bigger than us all. For us all. Maybe, disillusions of grandeur or maybe a moment in time that is meant to be.
If I had the flu or cancer or a broken leg you'd bring me chicken but I don't. I have faulty wiring in my brain and therefore, I'm alone. My disease isn't recognized as a disability because sometimes I function very well (better than average) but then there are times like this when the tiniest of tasks is impossible. I haven't been able to hold a real job for over 20 years, I'm an artist, which has forced me into dependance. I'm OK really, just can't hold all this in anymore and so I blog.
All I need is that you take this in just a little and hug someone you love a little longer. It will ripple out.