The discussions last evening concluded with Svetlana saying, “We are all crazy altruists!” I made a note of that on a post-it which I could add to my hall of fame collection of ‘fantastic everyday quotes on post-its’. This morning, we picked up on that thread and the conversations took a natural turn to gratitude and happiness. How do we measure happiness? Is there an average happiness quotient to life we’ve lived so far or does it exist as a daily variable on a scale of one to ten? Most things considered, I’m going with eight and three quarters.
“Ursula K. LeGuin once noted, "To light a candle is to cast a shadow." Conversely, it's in the dark that faint light shines: starlight, candlelight, fireflies, the bioluminescence of the sea. I don't want to reverse the binaries, to make darkness good and light problematic. I want a language and an imagination where they are not enemies but perhaps dance partners, whirling each other around this globe that spends half its time away from the sun, in night. I want people to remember how photography works, that medium that depends on perfect darkness within the camera to capture the images made by light. An image of boundless light would turn the film black, while an exposure in perfect darkness would show just the white of unexposed paper. The visible world depends on both, as surely as night follows day. Or day follows night.”
This excerpt from Rebecca Solnit’s book Storming the Gates of Paradise, I thought, not only illustrates the themes in our practice that we’ve been sharing with each other but also articulates the delicate balance of binaries like weights and trampoline. We spent the day thinking, mapping and taking inventory of these opposing energies in our life that hold us back and those that propel us forward.
A great deal can be said about the human condition. In my condition, specifically my physical body and mind together, there are a lot of weights. But I am learning how to find the trampolines. What weighs on me most is the full-time job of working towards health and wellness. It has taken a considerable amount of effort on my part to find and curate a path to healing. And I am still behind on all the self-care and therapeutic practices that I am supposed to be doing on a daily basis. My medication schedule is very complex, and I find it hard to get through the day without contributing a considerable amount of time to these efforts. To sum it up, every aspect of my daily routine must be dialed in to the right frequency, like conducting a symphony. Basic human activities like eating, sleeping, exercise, relaxation, water is down to a science. Herbs and supplements must be organized and inventoried on a regular basis. It is a lot of boring tasks, and I find myself daydreaming about having a body that thrives and can support all that I want to accomplish. The daily regimen of taking pills and liquid herbs and resting, becomes a soul crushing, dull, monotony of a life lived on the edge of space and time. My brain has become accustomed to isolation through the past 20 years. I am restricted by my body constantly saying “NO” – it is time to flip this narrative.
I feel pushed to create out of necessity. I have tried to walk away from my creativity, and it has brought me deeper into darkness. Because I am limited, I find new paths to liberation, which is a gift, especially in this time we are living in. No matter how practical I want to be, there is nothing outside of the safety of my creative soul for me to connect with. My trampoline is my intuition, the earth, healing herbs and a sense that there is no other place for me, this is my home. To connect to the world through self-exploration and to share the gifts I have, to strengthen consciousness; is the space that I would like to inhabit. To make a difference in other people’s lives through art somehow. A sense of comfort, belonging, connection, and wonder that we all share at one point in life needs to be cultivated. I feel that the artist’s greatest hope is to shift human culture, to facilitate new perceptions, so that we can all evolve into something beautiful. I have stumbled into human history through my relationship with plants and I wish to provide recognition for the relationship that humans have had with the earth since the beginning of time. The ancient and holistic ways of healing have been put aside and forgotten for around 150 years; this is nothing compared to the thousands of years of human history. How then can we merge our past with our present to make a wonderful future?
My hard work weighs me down, but it has also been an important journey that has produced wonderful insights. I am motivated by the healing power of nature and how our relationship to plants and animals is the best medicine. I am looking forward to uncovering more deep primal roots that exist between all living things.
Ean Nicole Konopnicki
P.S. Trampolines are more fun