Uncomfortably on the Road

(photo credits to the amazing Sarah Bradley)

I find myself on the road again. From the outside it may appear that I like or am even good at this. But I would disagree. Sure there are moments. When the sun sets along a sandy beach or the fog perches just so in the bowl between mountains when life feels like magic, but more so I feel awkward and uncomfortable when I travel. Which begs the question, why do it then? Which is a question I ask myself every time I embark on a new journey (one of which I am on right now), which I seem to be heading out on all the time.

Earlier this morning I was reflecting on why I continue to put myself through this tortue as I was bent over in agony after putting my back out picking up a sock. My back was exhausted, as was my mental sanity, from carrying around my entire life on my back the previous day for hours. I don’t know how turtles do it. That sock was the last straw for my back. As my back stopped trying to be strong, I realized I travel to live in the moment. When travelling you can’t hum and haw, you have to make those split moment decisions. Making the most of what you have in this foreign place and trusting yourself. Sometimes you have to sacrifice your morals for survival, sacrifice yourself to catch the train (after my back gave out on me, I still walked with 50 lbs of stuff on my back for 30 minutes today to catch the train), sacrifice the beautiful views for taking care of yourself (rather than going out, I stayed in last night to take care of myself at the cost of seeing less of the beautiful place I was in).

I am not saying “living in the moment” makes all the challenges and breakdowns of solo travelling worth it. Travelling alone is hard and my poor friends who I am constantly messaging with melodramatic lonely sob stories would probably prefer that I stopped travelling, but the fact is, I keep doing it. I don’t know if I am “running from” or “searching for”, maybe neither. Perhaps I travel to be forced to look inside and live in the moment. When on the road, some days to do nothing more than exist is enough. To just exist is something so rare in our world full of distractions and endless to-do lists. Travel forces me to slow down, even if I don’t want to. Forces me to look inside, trust myself, and sit with the uncomfortable. Today I will simply exist, and that will be enough. It has to be.

(I acknowledge this perspective is one of privilege, that I get to travel for fun and I do not profess to speak for anyone else but myself)

Bees, Donionation and Power

(originally written for ONCA Galleries blog posted January 3rd, 2018)

The view from where I sit, is, well, stunning. I sit in a garden full of avocado and orange trees in Sta Lucia, a small town in South West Spain, 45 min from Cadiz. I discovered this area in October 2017, when I attended a bees and systems thinking artist residency called BeeTime. It was my first artist residency and was a big deal for me because it was one of the first times I purposefully labelled myself as an “artist”, which is no easy task for me.

It was also the first time I spent much time learning about and hanging out with bees. Bees are magical creatures. Did you know that the honeybee colony is considered a superorganism? Did you know that an individual bee cannot live on its own (at least not for long)? It needs the whole hive. What fascinated me the most (although I am no expert and still have a lot to learn about bees) is how bees procreate. At our exposition at BeeTime, I performed a musical describing different roles in a honeybee hive, one of which being the queen bee and her mating flight. Did you know that the queen bee mates with ten to fifteen drones and when she mates with each drone the drone’s penis explodes and rips off the drone’s body thus killing the drone. Whoah! This blew my mind. 

Speaking of my mind, while I have been slowly settling back into Sta Lucia life, I have found my mind thinking a lot about honeybees, social structures, the land, and the systems of interaction between all of these parts. In parallel, my mind continues to return to thoughts of sexuality, gender, power and manipulation. Perhaps I have had too much time on my hands; I have spent several hours watching Netflix documentaries about the disturbing world of mainstream erotica where abuse, manipulation and domination is somehow considered erotic. What makes us so hungry for violent power? How has mainstream society been conditioned to find violence and domination erotic? 

Perhaps it is simply all about power. We all want power, no? Yet I personally think the mainstream idea of power is, well, messed up. When you think of power, what do you think of? Domination? Control? Maybe it brings up negative emotions? Until a few days ago, I saw power as something horrible. I am actually very uncomfortable with “power”. But through reading The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown, I have been able to shift my ideas of what power is. Based on this book, power is less about domination and control of others and more about control in your own life, and being able to make conscious and intentional decisions. What if power had nothing to do with anyone else but yourself? What if seeking power meant finding your place in the hive, and feeling worthwhile. Maybe, power comes from within. 

Now, let’s return to the bees. Honeybees live in one community, a hive, with each honey bee holding different roles of equal importance. The queen bee simply has a role to play in order to populate the hive. She is not the ruler, and she is no more important then the bees that are guarding, nursing or collecting nectar and pollen. It is simply a role. In addition, in a hive, all of the bees are females except for the drones. Skills, strengths, and problem solving have nothing to do with what sex organs you have. For honey bees, being male means you will die having sex, but for humans, what lies between your legs is, arguable, simply another limb. Therefore it should not dictate how much power you have, whether you are strangled in erotica videos and whether or not the judicial system sides with you.

In the end, my wandering and whistling mind returns to fact that we humans, have a lot to learn from the land, bees and other creatures around us. As I look out over the rolling mountains, wondering if its time for a siesta, I have a profound (for me) thought: perhaps to find power is to let go of the pursuit of it.