(making up for my brevity yesterday apparently so.. long post)
Your voice, your words, your emotions, your suppressed or unsuppressed opinions and thoughts. The things pushed deep inside or those loitering silently just below the surface. Whatever it is, it will find it’s way out. Especially in moments when you feel like you can trust the ones around you or if you are pushed to your limits.
Here in this place I have both conditions active so it’s no wonder that the things I hold inside find their way out. It’s not in the group dynamic mind you, it’s in those intimate moments where I’ve had the opportunity to talk, really talk, one on one or with just two other people about what’s happening in our lives.
And surprisingly it’s not sharing what’s going on with me but listening, really listening, to those people. Feeling with them in their moments of reflection, contemplation, and clarity. It’s incredible actually. It makes me feel like a whole person.
One of the things that have been different about this residency compared to others is that I haven’t given in to the flight or flight response that has caused me to have a need to get in my car and drive home. In past residencies I’ve found myself at a breaking point and just made the executive decision to leave for the night. Not just to sleep in my own bed but to disconnect enough to be in my own space and consider my own issues and make sure I can still reach my center of gravity.
What happens on those 45 minute car rides was unexpected but somewhat reliable. I’m on the highway like 5 minutes, enough time to get out of town and confirm I was headed in the right direction and let go of that and start letting my mind wander. Almost as if a switch has been flipped, I think some thought and am moved to tears.
And not just a teary eye, and uneven breath, but uncontrollable sobbing. The kind where you can’t catch your breath and the highway ahead becomes so blurry like a massive rainstorm when windshield wipers can’t keep up. It’s raining on the inside and everything on the inside just comes out. it pours, for a good 20 minutes and then just as suddenly as it came, it’s gone.
It’s not one thing, it’s all the things. It’s an overwhelming force, but once it’s over, I return to a state where my head is clear and I can start to put together my thoughts in a logical fashion again. I arrive home, find my center (or like I said, at least confirm it’s location), sleep, wake up, and return for another day.
So what’s different this time? I guess it is that I am getting more comfortable, have established relationships and trust with people here, and no longer feel that fight or flight in the same way as before. I have not gone home. I won’t go home until tomorrow when this is all over.
But that buildup of stuff, whatever it is, whatever has contributed to it, whatever it is made of is still happening and has been happening since day zero. I’ve felt myself teetering on the verge of tears. I don’t particularly like crying in public (though it did happen once last Residency and big time), so I breathe through those moments and maintain my composure.
Late afternoon yesterday the last of three graduating students presented their reading. One of the requirements to graduate is to give a 20 minute reading of content that you wrote during the course of your time in the program. She presented three pieces, two narratives and a one act play. It was exquisite. It was so moving and so well written that the narratives felt like long prose poems, constructed with language that carried powerful meaning while also singing and and creating a unique aesthetic experience for those of us fortunate enough to be in the room to hear it. And hear it in the authors voice, which was both soft and and strong in conviction with confidence and, a few times, with the brief line or two which were actual song.
When it was over the typical routine is for people to applaud and then approach and offer hugs and words of encouragement and congratulations. That happened, but as she started receiving hugs the applause did not subside and people began standing. A standing ovation. A first for me to witness here.
After the first hug and words ended, the author looked up and realized it. She was stunned. It was incredibly moving. I was moved to tears (still standing and clapping mind you). A line formed for continued hugs and those quiet words whispered into her ears. I took my plane in line. It was an honor to witness the moment and an honor to be able to tell this woman, who I barely knew, how her writing and presentation moved me.
After that the group dispersed and continued on with their own objectives and plans. I did too.
This morning I woke up just before 4. My mind was immediately there, back in that moment. Perhaps I was dreaming it all over again and moved so much it woke me. I sat up and realized I was about to cry. It came on like that rainstorm in the car, so suddenly and so hard. I wasn’t even fully awake or aware of what was happening. 4 am and it found its way out.
I had a good cry, albeit brief and that was followed by an epiphany. A rush of thoughts about my thesis and it’s content and organization and preface and the accompanying lecture and reading. All in a rush it came to me. What it is and what I have to do next.
I spent the next hour making notes. And now I’m well past an hour (approaching 1.5 hours) on this treadmill writing this post.
Because of the extra time I took today I’m running a little late to find Miss Margret up in the dining room to have our morning breakfast chat. Which means I’ve got to go.
Lots to do In the next 24 hours.