Belonging and forgetting
October 27, 2016
Looking up and out of an art gallery in Iceland…lines, circles, windows and blue sky
A small post of memory
The constructs of life, the smooth times, the straight lines, the times where we block, the times when we open up to what is beyond.
I am spending most of my days reflecting and writing on what it means to create, construct and dreaming on what home means in the 21st century. What does it mean to belong in this fast paced world where we are so connected and yet, when we stop and think, not connected at all? We still don’t have time despite the fact that we have the world at our finger tips.
I’m reading bell hooks and her book Belonging: A Culture of Place, and I love it when she says ” I need to live where I can walk. I need to be able to walk to work, to the store, to a place where I can sit and drink tea and fellowship.”
It is the word ‘fellowship’ that resonates with me this morning. The fellowship of communion, of connection with eyes and ears wide open. We have created a ‘fellowship’ of women in The Women in Theatre Bridge Club, a group of like minded theatre feminists who want to create long term change. We are all aware of the gender bias in the theatre industry and how women have to have a bigger bag of tricks in order to be noticed when they move from youth to maturity. Women in the theatre industry need to work harder, and be bigger, or not. A case in point is Emma Rice at The Globe in London where she has recently been ‘removed’ from her newly won position as artistic director (one more season to go) because she was too big for her own good. She pushed the boundaries of what went before and the Establishment did not like it. No they did not like it one little bit. Are we all trying to push the boundaries, and are we finding that the Establishment is not liking it? The Establishment, the traditional part of both our communities and the traditional part of ourselves, can be very narrow in its thinking.
As a sometimes academic finishing my PhD which has absorbed me for over six years, I know that the conservative part of me can be extremely limiting. For instance, as I write chapter after chapter I ask myself “Is this academic enough?” and I voiced this doubt to my friend and the gist of what she said was “You are writing your research using your own unique voice. You are contributing new knowledge in the best possible way you can. Only you can communicate your ideas in your way because you have done the research. Your voice belongs in the Academy” and suddenly the whole world opens again. And I start to write again, because of the things that need to be said. Things that others have said perhaps…but as I stare at the image at the top of this post, it is clear that the blue sky is limitless…and I will frame my own experience differently. I am the circle and the square. I am both blue sky and the container. And that is what Home is. That is what it means to belong. We fit in, sure, but we do it in such a way that we are bigger for it. We flow (the circle), we walk the lines, we open windows (yes, in this image you can see windows that can open), we stare at the sky…and like my beloved EVE, the first play of my Belonging Trilogy:
She will dance the war and by the light of a hundred candelabras she dances, spinning on golden wings, she leaves the earth. Her soul opens, she breaks apart and she flies right through that paper window and out into the planets (with appreciation to Eduardo Galeano, 2009).
We must all continue spinning on our golden wings, believing in our ability to contribute to our world in the way we know best and to do that we must listen well to what our inner memories are trying to tell us. My character Eve teaches us that on the hills of Australia we can read the “secrets of the great Australian loneliness”: and I am redreaming these secrets. My secrets include turning the loneliness of the Australian hills into a fellowship with others. The people I can call on the phone and say “Hello. How is it going your end?” And we exchange warm thoughts and hopes and dreams. We grow each other’s stories into stories of belonging and connection. We encourage each other to stand in our own power. To understand our values and know that our decisions are right for this moment, at this time. So this morning I will return to bell hooks, thanks to the fellowship of my friend. I will read bell’s words of wisdom and I will enact my rituals of remembering: I will listen to my inner wisdom.
Together, lets embrace our present moments, seeing them as just that, moments that point to the blue sky above, beyond the straight lines of memory, and out into the stars:
We are born and have our being in a place of memory. We chart our lives by everything we remember from the mundane moment to the majestic. We know ourselves through the art and act of remembering. Memories offer us a world where there is no death, where we are sustained by rituals of regard and recollection (bell hooks, in Belonging: A Culture of Place).