Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Trust in times of chaos

"Chaos is what happens when you're ready for a big change! Let the Universe do its work and #Trust"
— tweeted by The Daily Love

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Alien’s Burden

For about the past 10 years of my life, I have lived outside my homeland as a categorical foreigner. This period has coincided with what I believe are considered my formative years. I wonder what has been more integral to that moulding – my age or the fact that my sense of identity has been so tested by my whereabouts. One thing is for sure: this sojourn from the land of my birth and the continent to which I owe my passion, has made me realise what is most important to me, what I stand for and crucially, what my purpose in life is.

One could question whether it’s actually being away that has encouraged these insights or whether they would have appeared at the same time no matter where I was. There’s no way to confirm either way. However, there are some specific things that being a foreigner helps you to appreciate.

I was talking to my boyfriend, who has been a foreigner for most of his life, growing up in four different countries (before the age of 18!). However, here, in the UK, and in most of the world, his red passport deems him right at home. I on the other hand, have had some “interesting” times with the immigration authorities. At times, it’s worryingly been down to misinformation and miscommunication on their part! In my dealings with them, I have not once been made to feel welcome, as you can imagine, and have often felt like I’m begging to pay UK taxes. With my Kenyan passport, it’s almost the same story wherever else I want to go in the West (which I affectionately refer to as other people’s countries). No spontaneous weekend trips to France for me! Instead, months of planning and providing documentation in order to contribute to their economy.

So what would happen if tomorrow somebody offered me a red passport, with compliments?

The thing is this: that I experience the above difficulties in travel, reminds me of who I am. When I am reminded that I am different, I am challenged to fully appreciate that which makes me different. That I am made to feel like a parasite in foreign lands means that I cannot forget history, and how those same lands came to their current prosperity off the exploitation of mine. That these truths are avoided and ignored, I cannot take them for granted. That these are my observations, I am reminded of my responsibility for change.

I often joke and call myself an “alien”, wrought as that word is with implications of isolation and sometimes distaste. For me, that proclamation comes from a place of pride. I am happy to be who I am and welcome all that comes with it.

“When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.”
— from Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Inroads to my Self, courtesy of art (and vice-versa)

As a new year and decade begins, I can’t help but take this abstract transition as an opportunity to commit to making some tangible changes in my life. I won’t label these commitments as resolutions because, though tangible, they are very open-ended: not the kind of things that I can tick off my list on December 31st.

Having faith to release the power of the Self
So I was thinking about letting artistic work speak for itself and having faith that it can alone speak volumes. I had a thought about how it seems that the most powerful art (and by “powerful” I mean that which resonates most strongly with the soul; that which is received like an old friend, as if it is instantly familiar and belongs; as if it is obvious and simple truth), is a reflection of the bare soul, the essence, of the artist. It is an amplication of their Self.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons that process is so important in artistic production – that it is the artist’s education on their Self.

My reality
Desiring to spend more time this new year working on artistic works, I question why, although this desire has been one of the few constants in all my years, since I can remember, my attempts to fulfill it are never quite whole-hearted. Conclusion? The ultimate challenge has been this: I have not been open to, honest with, and actually gotten to know my Self enough to be able to amplify what is there in any meaningful and sustainable way! I believe that by committing to spend some time educating myself about my Self, by using the act of creating to journey from question to understanding, that artistic voice within me will be unleashed. And that the most appropriate mediums of expression will naturally emerge.

It all seems so obvious and indeed, writing has always been my most effective problem-solving tool. Having just read Marianne Hieb’s Inner Journeying through Art-Journaling: Learning to see and record your life as a work of art, I see again what I suspect, that the problem-solving toolbox can be expanded to include all forms of art.

The art of reality, revisited
Is amplifying one’s reality or the substance of one’s Self akin to reflecting that reality? Reading earlier musings about art as a conduit to reality, I find myself disagreeing slightly with the quote below:

“Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.
— Bertolt Brecht

Art is a subjective interpretation; one’s perspective of reality. In the process, while recognizing, acknowledging, analyzing and understanding this reality, new shades of it emerge. These new shades exist as a palette that you can pick and choose from to create different narratives. And in this way I agree with Brecht that art can shape reality. Reality inspiring new realities. Amplification.

Art as both an insight into the reality which we can resonate with or at least recognize and a vision of how we might reshape this reality (for better or for worse, for one or for all!).