When you let love into your life with open arms, when you walk around “wearing three layers less skin than everyone else”, when you bare your shakes and your shivers and your heart throbs to people you’ve known your entire life or strangers you’ve just connected with, your experience of life softens, becomes warmer, takes on a glow of absolute melting clarity.

Gentle clarity spurred by caffeine into hand-shaking, heart-racing, calm-bodied sleep that makes you feel like all is right, all is okay, even if the world is moving slowly towards its end.

This week was so full. SO full of absolute love. I am sometimes, despite knowing I am a person made more of feelings than of matter and bones and muscle, still surprised at the way my heart manages to stretch itself around new moments. It stretches, it yearns, it wants to grasp all things, all people, all words in it. It expands. It grows at such a speed some weeks, I wonder what other critical organs are getting pushed into insignificance. Wherever bitterness comes from, that’s getting smaller, for sure.

For many years I considered myself an artist, a poet, a writer, but I held envy near and dear. I was intimidated into not opening, not writing, not working, and had nothing but that envy. Had nothing but the quiet intention to “one day” do something large, influential, important and be better than others in order to be paid attention to.

Sometime last year, I broke down (this idea that I was an artist). Maybe I wouldn’t ever be an incredible artist. Maybe I wouldn’t ever push out what I needed to say or pull it together or weave it into anything. Maybe it would stay collected in me and I wouldn’t ever do anything meaningful with it. That day was the worst I can remember in the past year, but I force myself to remember it. I do this because once I stopped focusing on creating output, I found that I could take in all the wonder around me and do my best to give back.  I let go of the pressure. I found that I needed to build community and to support others, in order to feel calm enough  and fulfilled enough to write without expectation, fear of judgment, or the need to impress others. 

I still consider myself an artist, a poet, a writer. Most definitely. But I no longer focus on the definition or the competition it holds within it. I choose to focus on beauty, on quality, on supporting other artists and connecting them together. Because art, as isolated as its creation often is, is so interdisciplinary and collaboration and connection is so necessary for it to thrive. If we want to invest in art, grow artistic communities, and support artists,  I think we need to talk to each other, be inspired by each other, open ourselves to other disciplines, and say

yes, yes, yes, this is fantastic. Talk to me about it.

Creating artistic communities is so central to everything I believe in. And artistic communities can be so diverse. In fact, I believe they should be. They should have engineers and architects, designers and nurses, social justice activists and plumbers, photographers and event organizers. Because the more we interact with people who think in different directions, act in fascinating new ways, and are passionate about things that are totally different than the things we know, the more our own art is informed, and the fuller our own lives are.

I find such energy in talking to professors like Yvonne Bohr about how infants have been affected by globalization and migration, to artists like Jennie Suddick about the childhood dreams we all had of tree houses (and how most of ours were never realized), to my best friends about travel and dreams, to emcees about spoken word, to community librarians about digital media, and nurses about their experiences with immigration and adapting to multi-cultural care. Just, energy. I love people. I love listening. And I am lucky, so lucky, to know people who love and are passionate about similar things.

I always come back to the Physics class I took in my first year of university and the Political Science classes I took and absolutely loved in high school. I love connecting physics concepts to politics, or the veins of a leaf to the creative process, or neurons to family, or memory to a gallery. I can do it, because I attempt to stretch my mind in those, and a million other directions. I want to continue doing that with my mind, my heart, my body, and my soul around and for my small, but ever-growing network of incredible people – to meet each other, collaborate together, support everyone I encounter.

Art is not just hanging at the Louvre. Art is everywhere. Great art can be local, authentic, and empowering. Art is your neighbour; it rides on your local bus; travels to disenfranchised communities; wears the word “openness” like the shining eyes of a kid. Art is in you and in your family, you just have to open to it and to the people that create it.

That’s why I love PechaKucha, and PechaKucha Markham, specifically (I’m on the team, YAY). This is what it does. It connects. Connection is EVERYTHING. Not just for artists, but human beings.

Also, PK is in like 800 cities around the world, so if you’re reading this from elsewhere and want similar feels – check out the link above! ❤

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