The birth of a group (and why working with others is a radical politicalpersonalphysiologicalsocialc
The first part is a blog I wrote years ago about the birth of a group of women clowns/performance artists that I'm part of. The second part is a voice memo I recorded to them all more recently.
About two months ago this thing happened and I got to experience
THE GIANT SWING O’ LIFE.
I received a group “there’s-so-much-going-on-in-my-world” email, one of those that occasionally makes you (by you, I mean me) feel like all the coolness and greatness and friends in the world are already taken up by someone else.
I felt like I was outside the fish bowl.
I felt alone.
I felt alone all night and it felt bad.
I did one thing the night I read the email…
and I did another thing the day after.
The night I read the email I lay down on the floor, felt THE VERY BAD PAIN in my body, and tried to imagine myself surrounded by beauty, awesomeness and people that wanted to play with me. I did this for about 5 minutes. I then met a friend for a glass of wine with the pain in the pit of my stomach.
The next day I woke up with THE VERY BAD PAIN. I hoped it would pass. I trusted it would pass. I wondered when it would pass. It hurt. It was familiar.
And then something happened, after waking in the morning…I woke up again.
Waking up for the second time…
I realized that because someone else is doing something cool/beautiful/brilliant it doesn’t mean I can’t.
I realized that all awesomeness and beauty is not used up.
I realized that there are a lot of people that feel outside of a fishbowl.
And there it was THE GIANT SWING O’ LIFE!
I emailed a bunch of women outside of the fishbowl and invited them to do something all together.
I felt vulnerable and scared all day and like it was very definitely a stupid idea.
And now we’re all doing something beautiful, scary and awesome together.
That’s my story about a giant swing set, a piece of my life that turned out differently, and how people want to play together.
(And there’s a part of me that wonders how much that little step of lying on the floor and letting my body imagine what it would feel like to be part of what it was that I wanted, even though I felt THE VERY BAD PAIN at the same time, had to do with what happened next.)
It's 4 years later...
4 weird, awkward, pokey, painful years later (descriptors of my own process). And maybe I'm beginning to see/feel the beauty of it all. It's been a big thing to learn to work with others...and learn to trust others, at least every once in awhile, enough to move forward.
I recorded this voice memo on my way to work before the show we just did where we used our shame as a source for our work and the rehearsal process was excruciating and deeply rewarding.
"The word therapy has come up a lot in this process, and I do therapy, and I am a therapist, and i appreciate that world because I think, unfortunately, it's useful at times. But that world only exists because this other world is so broken in so many ways.
We are asked to be more and do more and handle more in situations that grow more and more ridiculous and demanding while we are more and more alone. And so the work we're doing I don't see so much as therapizing or therapy but making what needs to be made and creating what needs to be created and being the human beings that need to be. And we are doing this in connection with one another, in a world that doesn't necessarily support that.
And that's not actually therapy. Therapy doesn't hold that. Therapy doesn't own that. That's actually us, making art and figuring out how to see and be seen, because the earth that we stand on and the city we live in doesn't have space for that. So the act of what we're doing and how we gather is radical, and in a sense a work of art, the just being together and the just doing together, and the just figuring this damn thing out, is a work of art.
And I think there's something about the feminine that doesn't draw clear lines, and sees connections, which is again radical. And so all of a sudden we find ourselves in a process that is political, personal, communal and artistic, and that is exciting, and horrifying, and I feel like it says f*^& the patriarchy in the best way possible.
And so really wanting to make that distinction clear, and I guess, for myself, recognize why processes that look like this are necessary. So, thank you, and I appreciate this, and I'm proud of us.
And I think, too, as we go into this next part of the process where there's not a facilitator, perhaps if we can hold ourselves and each other with great and strong kindness, so we can reach so far, having seen how much is possible in the past 10 weeks when we do that. It's incredible the presence that a kind, courageous and generous facilitator brings, and it was incredible how we could feel the absence of that invisible container this Wednesday. Perhaps we can do that for one another over the next week and a half.
Because great and strong kindness is radical and revolutionary and makes really f%*&ing awesome art."