Sunday, May 14, 2017

Deep, Visceral Existence

Hello, Invisible Audience,

It's been nearly a month since I arrived in Panama -- time has gone much faster than I anticipated. I have lost two chickens on the farm, and -- happily -- my apathy.

I am also finding that I am starting to unwind. Without realizing it, I had become coiled as tight as a spring. Coming abroad has once again reminded me how much more space there is to live in the world than the corner I have chosen. This is one of the most joyful parts of travel that I always forget when I've been in one place for too long.

For me, there is something immensely freeing about being abroad because I don't feel like the rules apply to me. I am not Panamanian. Even when Panamanians ask me things that make it clear I don't fit into their culture -- Why aren't you married? Why don't you have kids? Aren't you scared to be here on your own? -- I can answer honestly with detachment. The rules just don't feel like they apply.

When I'm abroad, the same "rules" of the U.S. don't seem to apply to me anymore, either. Even if few people in the States ask me what my career goals are or when I plan on settling down or buying a house, I find it harder to ignore the cultural norms there, because I grew up with them. When I'm abroad, however, those norms seem a world a way, because they are. Suddenly I don't feel like I'm supposed to color within the lines, because I'm not even on the same page.
A Panamanian lightning storm as viewed from my temporary home

I have discovered something in the past couple weeks, Invisible Audience. It is a deep desire to live from a place of passion instead of mere existence. It is a desire to take hold of the creative pulse within me and wrap it around my hand so that it directs my fingers as I write. It is a deep need to pull my everyday work from the deepest part of my belly; to give birth to my larger, more powerful and empowered nature.

I have been so caught up in just trying to survive lately that I forgot there was another way. I forgot that there are people whose lives revolve around the burning fire of creation that wells up within them instead of around merely making it through each and every day. I forgot that there is a place within me that SCREAMS for the kind of emotion that I have been trying to avoid, to stifle, and to smother -- that today's fearful world at large is trying to keep at bay. I grew so tired of weeping that I forgot the release of deep, wracking, soul-wrenching sobs. I buried my desire for inspiration so far below a drive for a paycheck that I forgot how art is, in itself, a sustenance. I have hungered for fulfillment, without realizing that it is within my hands; it is locked within the strokes that make the letters that form the words and that group into sentences that can either form my prison or my palace.

When I live from this place, Invisible Audience, the world is not big enough to hold all the energy I have access to. The language does not have enough thousands of words to slake my thirst for the perfect was to eviscerate the pain, or celebrate the sun when it emerges after the rain. Instead of me not being enough in this washed-out world, the world is too small for the magnitude of my existence - of my very being.

Some Eastern traditions call it the dan tien, a small burning coal in the abdomen below the belly button. Even in Western cultures, we talk about "core" beliefs and listening to -- operating from -- your gut. I have been practicing Tai Chi lately, and when I make sure that every last movement I make starts from and is supported by the muscles deep in my abdomen where the dan tien lives, I feel like I could slay a thousand dragons and still have energy left over. It makes sense to me that the womb lives in the same place in the body. Much of my creativity feels like it is linked irrevocably to my very femaleness: messy, emotional, and able to bring forth wriggling, breathing beings whose lives will surpass my own.

Can I live here, Invisible Audience? Many certainly warn against it: there are infinite stories of madness and addiction about people who have felt too much and too deeply. But can it be harnessed? Can acceptance lie not in passive forgiveness, not in slaying the demons, but in roping them as they flee at a full gallop across the plains? Can I leap onto the biggest demon's back, twist my fingers into its mane and lose myself in the feeling of the blood pumping through its veins into my own?

I don't know. All I know is that I'd rather live here -- in the blood and guts of this messier world -- than in the washed out dishwater where I've been treading water for the past several years, trying not to make waves.

Love and visceral kisses,