It has been a long and strange week. Exhausting, but in a good way. I didn’t get a chance to blog yesterday because right as I sat down to do it, I found out a good friend of mines dog died. Lucy. You may remember her from the outtakes from the Demon of Providence. She is unseen but heard, chomping on a squeaky toy at all the wrong moments and just blowing all the seriousness of the Demon away with gales of laughter.
To say that my friend and Lucy had a deep bond was to make a profound understatement. My heart goes out to him. While I cannot imagine what it is like for him to lose Lucy, I do remember what it was like for me to lose Hugo, my dog, and it moves me to a kind of place in which I am very aware of the depth of our emotional relationships with the animals we choose (and who choose) to live with us.
The funny thing, with me and Hugo, is that I had convinced myself that he was “just a pet” and his death would be sad but not heart breaking. I realize now that what I was doing was trying to build a wall before hand to protect myself against devastation. But when the time came, devastation did too. It took a year before I stopped looking for him and two before I knew I was coming out of that kind of profound grief.
You can’t protect yourself from loss or the emotions of grief that come with it. And I don’t care if it is the loss of a parent, partner, relationship, pet, job or long held hope – grief is something we are only beginning to understand and what we have come to understand about it most is that it is an unavoidable part of the experience of life. Perhaps, like birth, it is one of the rare times in modern life where we are stripped free of our pretenses.
And it is ok. No matter how hard it is, it is ok. Life transforms, it doesn’t necessarily change or heal, but it always transforms itself into a new day with new experiences. We can attempt to block them out but they are always there at some level.
In working on the City of Love I have a consultant. A profoundly intelligent and caring psychologist who charges me one dollar an hour to sit and examine not just my process of writing and emotional state in writing the City, but also the metaphors and themes that are slowly revealing themselves and how best to communicate them to others. I wish I had done the same thing when writing the Demon, that was absolutely soul destroying – no, revealing I think. It was a devastating thing to write, film and record (which is why it is still unfinished to this day).
This woman has been talking to me about the concept of “obligation,” which I am slowly coming to understand and embrace. She says that while all of us bear an obligation to each other just from our shared humanity, that those with skills and talents not available to everyone – the artists, the writers, the communicators – have a deep obligation to humanity to grow in their work beyond recitation of experience into examination, evaluation and communication of what it is they observe about life. It goes back to the idea of the “artist as shaman.” She believes, as do I, that art begins when it ceases to be about the artist but uses the artist and their experience of themselves to help others understand their life and self.
The artist, in a way, performs the ultimate act of sacrifice and worship at the altar of life. For they give of themselves to enable others to reach out and love.
And by love, I mean to love without history. I think that is a better way to put it than saying “love unconditionally” because even within that phrase there are judgmental conditions. To love “without history” means there is no knowledge of conditions being overcome. It is seamless, empathetic and intuitive. The expression of it, however, for the artist, is fraught with learned skill, practice and choice.
What a strange but good week it has been
c.2011 Cassandra Tribe. All rights reserved.