radical acceptance, willingness, internal truths
Radical acceptance has helped me understand what it means to recreate history: when we do not have access to facts, or when we are sickened by cynicism, that’s masquerading as realism - we can rely on the truth of that inner feeling in our bones and heart of hearts. I can trust my soul to guide me through any level of cognitive or emotional distortion. As human beings, we have to learn to value these internal truths, especially when we can’t fully master or dissect them. My goal, ultimately, is to attempt to recreate a history more felt, understood, and learned from, not for the exploiters, but for the exploited.
Art’s role isn’t to redeem or rewrite history, but to reanimate and reimagine the lost or shattered moments, the feelings never expressed, the secrets never surfaced, and the voices that were silenced. I believe art can reckon with and mourn those losses while it imagines, recovers, replaces and transforms what’s been lost. I think it’s possible to arrive at both destinations simultaneously.
I feel overwhelming grief and joy every day. I can’t overlook or dismiss all of the sufferings around me, nor can I deny the miracle of living. It took incredible (both interior and exterior) violence to become this tender. Everything I experienced was necessary for me to become who I am. And I don’t want to change who I am. There’s nothing I trust more than who I’m becoming.
The older I get, the less I’m concerned I am with whether or not I can survive something; I don’t even ask myself what I can and can’t live with (or without) anymore. All I’m interested in what I can learn from, and what can nourish me, deep down, at my core. Grief has a way of making me willing to get down on my knees and get my hands dirty. I am stained with the light of belief.
I don’t care about looking silly, at all. I cry in public weekly. 80% of that isn’t even sorrow. I don’t have to understand every single second of what’s happening to embrace the magic. I’ve been in situations where I thought, “Am I stupid? Why am I not getting this?” It’s hard to tell a story that doesn’t make any sense. And if you write about it, it feels pretentious. You wanna burn it. But there’s a part of you that’s screaming, “No! I don’t see the story in that way. I want to find a different way to tell it; to enter it. I want others to relate to this beautiful intangibility!"
I’m still discovering ways to traverse my own heart. I go down those hallways that used to terrify me. I was terrified when all the rooms on that floor didn’t have any answers. I feared that the corridor would go on forever. Just endless locked doors with nothing behind them except more questions. Maybe it does go on forever, but it’s far more likely I was the one who was building those empty rooms inside myself. I believed answers would come if I asked enough - if I asked the right question. Sometimes there are no right questions because there are no perfect answers. I wasn’t willing for complex grief and shame to live inside of me; I wanted them out. I wanted to bleach, burn, cut them out. But I can’t amputate something that’s revealed and is still revealing how strong and tender I am. I can’t remove the darkness considering it holds up what touches the light.
When we develop our work, we need to push it and push ourselves. Sometimes I find myself falling back and saying, "Well, I know that this thing works, so I’ll stick to this way (of making my art).” As opposed to some great artists, who said “no” and kept on going, kept pushing. They allowed themselves to make mistakes like what Beckett and Yeats ended up doing, where they went. I need inspiration for days when I’d rather shriek for ten-thousand years than write.
I know we’re all exhausted and misanthropic - for good reasons. But I’m also motivated. I can experience terror without being paralyzed by it. I can stand up for what I believe in, even if it means standing alone. I don’t fear the (personal) traumatic event. I’ve survived everything I once believed was unsurvivable. Despite everything I’ve been through I still believe in the wonder of the human condition. The cycles of birth and death are universal experiences, yet they are shrouded in mystery. I don’t know what it means for us to speak on these common issues that are nearly always endured in silence, other than raising our voices together against the darkness.
[*call your reps: 5calls.org ]
My experience is part of the human experience, but it’s also uniquely my own. No one can take my narrative away from me. In her article, “Warrior of Light” on Hildegard of Bingen, Elaine Bellezza wrote, “We cannot live in a world that is interpreted for us by others. An interpreted world is not a home. Part of the terror is to take back our own listening. To use our own voice. To see our own light.” She said part of the terror is to see our own light!
“Does the sun ask itself, "Am I good? Am I worthwhile? Is there enough of me?"
No, it burns, and it shines.
Does the sun ask itself, "What does the moon think of me? How does Mars feel about me today?"
No, it burns, it shines.
Does the sun ask itself, "Am I as big as other suns in other galaxies?"
No, it burns, it shines.”
- Andrea Dworkin
Burn and shine, loves - burn and shine.