I think about the way the universe is made up. And what I heard on an NPR break the other day, with a scientist an astrophysicist I think, saying this is how he is going against the grain--
I believe we matter as human beings in the universe.
Not a popular opinion, after Copernicanism.
The universe with its stars, all of them,
more and more discovered to have planets,
and it gets more likely that these planets have life.
And so we matter not because we are different,
because we are unique and the universe revolves around us,
but because we are part of the tapestry of life.
Beings who can protect life.
And we matter,
our responsibility in mattering is to take care of life.
To keep it. Protect life and guard it.
That is huge responsibility.
One we are forsaking.
(A paraphrasing, original source forgotten.)
looking back on looking back
From September, 2015 (and I'm still working on becoming)
Feel how the emotions change now, heart rate and face tension, after reading the entry I wrote the day after Dad's spinal surgery. Time is all now.
I feel the tingle.
When I'm in lows, I focus my writing less on process and why I do what I do.
I think less about the big picture.
More about what's happening on my insides.
Less about sensory detail.
More about raw emotion.
Usually the right here right now vague feelings and cyclic thoughts.
And I record. And I process. And I sit. Observe.
And I think -- at the core, this is why I do this.
To take care of me.
To get the notes out about what it's like right here right now.
To get more exact, articulate and less desperate.
To trust my mind. To let go and share.
There are big picture thoughts that go with it, that have to do with audience and what I'm trying to communicate why with whom for what purpose. But at the base, this is the foundation. I write to connect with me.
It doesn't always make me feel better, but it gets the howling more manageable.
When I do this every day, it makes me stronger, more powerful as a human.
Yes, I don't make much money as a writer.
I have to think a lot about how can I squeak by.
I spend a lot of time doing this practice, completely financially unpaid work.
Yes, my logical brain tells me it's important: to practice as an artist, and then my panic practical brain says but so much? It's important to get financially stable and how can you with this? And what are you contributing to the world?
But in a larger term scope,
in taking in the truth about my history and my trajectory,
I see that this is what it takes for me to get through the day.
The alternative, I see, is me in hospital, me medicated, me living dependent, me out late every night making bad decisions. That me is contributing a whole lot less and spending more. Or...Here.
I need to write and I feel it these days
when there is burning in my chest
and I notice the tension build and fall in shoulders.
When I see the weight. And hold it.
And it draws my mouth downward.
When the throat and the gut and the head dive.
When I open up my brain to exposure and I get caught wrestling inside.
When I read about the day Dad's results came back,
detailing all the organs where his melanoma spread:
brain, spine, liver, lungs, kidneys.
When I notice how panic and overworking shielded me from feeling for years. Everything task oriented. And now I'm unleashing.
When I got back from the M.E. experience of homeless abuse and un-me-ing,
I didn't want to show any awful side of myself.
I wrote about it yes, but didn't speak about it.
The way I wrote about it in pieces I released veiled the truth enough
that yes I felt exposed but the art felt separate from me.
There was my work and my private life. Fractured. Compartmentalized.
This left me cold and armored, still denying myself.
Now this, this is hard too, this pure feeling, but it is real. Unmasked. Familiar.
And this is my reason to write as much as any lofty ones.
I can only get to the point where I am opening up connections,
speaking to the silent if I allow myself to speak and listen, too.
I exist. I matter.
And so do you.
When in a crisis, look out for someone you can help.
I am working on listening.
On asking questions and listening for understanding,
not to teach or show or judge or show contention, show how smart I am.
This listening is difficult and requires attentiveness, energy and effort.
It requires an attitude that wants connection and empathy to build,
even when I have something to say that will mean something right now.
Stepping back and truly observing.
This space is white.
Workshopping How to Hide Your Monster in the Creede, Colorado mountains, the spirals opening up this play during this development process are revealing the guts underneath each character's story. I'm glad I spent a year away from this script. Grateful to be working on it with artists who've never touched it before (the amazing Jeni Mahoney [director], Manuel Zarate [dramaturg] and a brilliant cast), whose questions and observations help me find the core heat inside and trace the strongest throughlines, tracking the outpourings that crack through the floor.
All week we've splayed open the skin to dig out the meat (every time we make that reference in the rehearsal room I imagine Han Solo slicing open the tauntaun to save Luke from hypothermia). In these last days before this version's first public reading (there will be a second in Pagosa Springs on Monday) it's about finessing the edges, sewing up this monster after its surgery to see how it moves with new life. But what else is burrowing inside this play? What other questions are driving me and what other interests, curiosities, visions? The revelation at the end is much bigger now, more Ancient Greek, Sam Shepard in its twisting. What will that unlock, and what questions might that discovery bring?
Such focused time on this play, without having to bother much with other work or responsibilities, or even my normal routine, boy it is a godsend. And this area, remote enough, these San Juan mountain surroundings and the energy here from other playwrights and artists at work...
I hope you all get a chance to get away soon, to dive into the work that you've been itching to scratch in a magical environment with smart, kind, inspiring people, too. I'm feeling quite lucky to be here now. Thank you Creede and HBMG Foundation!
We journeyed south and west.
Spent two weeks in California.
Explored San Francisco art, sport, places, faces.
Camped on Central Coast beaches.
Soaked in ocean, bathed in waterfalls.
Waved hello to sea otters, seals, dolphins, hummingbirds, sunsets.
Stayed with friends in hostel, attic, living room.
Reclaimed a haunted city, transforming rocked memories with lovingkindness.
Reunited with friends, family.
Found clear thinking, renewed tenderness and joy.
Spent a week back in the normal routine.
And now I'm off again, to the north and west Washington Coast.
To individually and collectively build community.
To transform space through egalitarian teaching and learning.
Puget Sound Workshop Workshop, let's make us grow.
Grateful for all these summer goings.
I've been slow to post these weeks. Erratic on this blog and on social media.
This is intentional, so I can focus on my work and life with more attention.
Today I head out on a two week adventure with my life-love to California.
San Francisco and the Central Coast.
I plan to be even more erratic in talking about what I'm doing and how I'm doing it.
So I can do (and not do) with more fullness while I'm away.
It's funny, that desire to apologize for not being present everywhere, everywhen.
Available to talk about all the things I'm doing as I'm in process.
But now, as I'm working on a new play, continuing a larger screenplay, co-creating a new performance with Migration Theory and teaching teaching teaching and preparing for a new job where I'll be teaching teaching teaching, all my social media activity, including this process blog, is getting in the way of my process.
I'm not pulling out completely from everything internet (except over these next two weeks), but now and come future I'm allowing myself to be more sporadic. And I'm all the happier for it. More productive, balanced and sustainable.
I look forward to sharing with you what's happening (and how and why I'm doing what I'm doing) when it feels relevant to my work and life. When it feels helpful to me and maybe to you. I will likely find more of an Anne Bogart blog posting schedule than an Austin Kleon newsletter schedule.
Thanks for understanding, for reading, for being, for doing what you do best.
Whatever that best may be for you, keep doing it in the way that suits you best.
With kindness and gratitude at the heart of it all, perhaps.
Which is what I want to send you.
All my gratitude,
I found this in a notebook I kept a couple years ago, writings during a fantastic workshop by a teaching artist specializing in Hip Hop Foundations for youth classes.
Shine the Light
I find the more I teach, the more I learn.
I like what comes from the word facilitator.
I don't like to call myself a teacher.
The closest I get is teaching artist, teaching writer.
Because of how much I learn from my students. My friends. Colleagues. The world.
I love this act of discovering,
Learning something new every day about space, time, me, you, family, us.
I don't always like what I learn but I like the light shone on this new bit of globe.
I want to share my process,
As much as I want to share my work,
As much as I want to travel and make new work.
If I could bring in that journey, my journey, learn yours,
We can share space together
In an attempt to figure out what we as an us have to say,
And what we can do about the struggle,
About the ugly, and find the beauty,
And mirror each other on this path to deeper understanding.
Slash. Span continents. All the self.
As knowledge as possible.
We as in us have to say.
I like that comes out.
Space time me you family.
What good is telling them about
My love if I give love.
So that someone can give it back to me.
Keep an open mind.
Allow yourself to be excited.
Pretending that you know what you're doing.
It's a big teaching summer for me, one looking forward to brand new teaching experiences in the fall (to be announced soon...), so I'm glad to find these words now. Whatever they are -- process writing, poetic material, working notes, they pull me back to the core of what makes teaching a fueling part of my creative process.
Productivity ignites again.
Lots of healing, lots of waiting, lots of stillness.
Leads to this time undergoing big projects, entering into lots of teaching.
More active, more energized.
Paying attention to where my curiosities are taking me.
I go at my work much easier than I used to.
Following the impulse, writing what my characters are asking to say.
Sharing my interests, listening to what young artists and students want to learn.
Challenging myself, each other.
Approaching big risk, change, new steps.
Outside my comfort zone.
What my body mind has been pining after.
And so here I go. Another step by step.
Here are some things in old notebooks I'm finding and listening to,
And how I'm thinking about seeing and being seen:
"The seeds you water are the seeds you grow." Buddhist saying
And so what am I watering?
"What we see in an artist's work is what they attend to." Anne Bluethenthal
And so what am I attending to?
"In the end it all comes down to this: you have a choice (or more accurately a rolling tangle of choices) between giving your work your best shot and risking that it will not make you happy, or not giving it your best shot -- and thereby guaranteeing it will not make you happy. It becomes a choice between certainty and uncertainty. And curiously, uncertainty is the comforting choice." David Bayles/Ted Orland
And so what am I choosing?
"I urge each one of us here to reach down into that deep place of knowledge inside herself and touch that terror and loathing of any difference that lives there. See whose face it wears. Then the personal as the political can begin to illuminate all our choices." Audre Lorde
How do we care for the other?
How do I care for the other in me?
So I can care for the other in you?
By investing in this kind of art making?
Art that is of the people, by the people, for the people.
And always asking...
Who is onstage -- who is in power?
How do we see work? How is work being seen?
How do we define ourselves so we have some kind of control over the lens we're being viewed through?
And remembering when I did this, a great practice:
Step back from my work over time and look at it.
The last ten works, are there linkages? Consistencies?
It might be time for me to revisit this again now.
And you? What are you working on?
What are you asking?
What are you following?
What are your eyes following? All your senses?
How can I tell story using only sound? Only music? Movement?
Using only space? Visual art? The environment? Textiles?
What stories need to be expressed through those limits? Right now?
How am I limited right now? How are you? Physically, mentally, spatially (and&and)?
What's the interrogation/aesthetic/narrative/inquiry/mapping of those boundaries?
Of those differences? Of those spaces between opposites?
Process notes on a work in progress. This page serves to invite you into the way I work, with intermittent posts to show you the hows and whys on the whats I make, as well as prompts and ideas I bring to certain workshops. There will also be some raw, rough content found in notebooks written years ago, previously posted on: