Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Share #18: Olive bread

I didn't eat. I spent the entire day writing and caring for dogs. Four dogs require a great many walks and meals and medicines and cleaning up after. And I'm still coughing. And I should be doing more to cure my cold. Steam. Baths. Lemon ginger tea. Yesterday I had juice and tea with honey and herbal remedy and Airborne. I am doing what I can.

I got a tip on a community dinner at the F.O.E. in Ballard tonight. If I went to this dinner, I would miss my 7pm class. I've been attending and facilitating Field sessions since 2008 and am attending this fall's session. The Field was started in 1986 by dancers in New York City as a place to show works-in-progress and get non-directorial feedback from peer artists. For me, it is a place to grow and experiment and listen and articulate my aesthetic and support others in growth. I was planning to show a share tonight. I didn't know exactly what this meant but these days I never know exactly what I will share until I begin sharing. As a precautionary measure, I walked to the bakery in the afternoon with two of my dogs and bought a loaf of olive bread. The olive loaf is made with green and black olives and is formed into a big pretzel that can be hooked on a peg on the wall. It is an awkward shape. I put it into my jacket and walked home with the dogs.

There were six artists at The Field tonight. As usual, we let bravery dictate order. I let hunger dictate mine. By the time I showed, second to last, I was very, very hungry, I hadn't eaten all day, but it felt good to wait. I pulled a table and two chairs into the center of the room, introduced myself and gave the title of my work. My Share. I invited those who wanted to share food with me to the table. Those who didn't want to share could witness from further away. Everyone came to the table. I spread out a cloth and placed the bread on the cloth and some olive oil in a bowl beside it and set out a package of English digestives. No one came prepared for this meal, neither hungry nor with food to share, but I asked anyway, "If anyone has anything to share, I welcome you to share it. It is not necessary, of course, by welcome." Amanda tore open an orange. Rebecca poured out a bag of Ghiradelli chocolate squares. The table felt very full.

I started by tearing the bread and handing pieces around and, of course, talked about Golas and my search for the truth. Carolynn said her life was one big search for the truth. She has a tattoo of the word truth on her throat. I hadn't seen it before, but there it is, very visible. "How and where do you look for the truth?" I asked. She said she looks for the truth in her work. Beth said she's found some truth in Don Miguel Ruiz's Four Agreements: Be impeccable with your word, Don’t take anything personally, Don’t make assumptions and Always do your best. Amanda said these same concepts were explained differently in the five yamas in Patanjali's Ashtanga Yoga, or Rāja yoga, the eightfold path, explained in a book she is reading called The Art and Science of Raja Yoga. The Yamas are restraints or ethical practices that lead to right living. They are: Ahimsa - non-violence, Satya - truthfulness, Brahmacharya - control of the senses and celibacy, Asteya - non-stealing, and Aparigraha - non-covetousness and non-acceptance of gifts. The mastery of each of these restraints is meant to imbue one with a different superpower, one of which is the ability to see the truth unveiled, or to know God.

Where do we find the truth? Where can we begin looking? Are we looking already? Do we know the truth? Does it reside inside of and, if so, how can it be concealed from us? Gurdjieff looked for the truth in ancient artifacts and in various learned people. Bas Jan Ader looked for it at sea. I am looking for it in books and in people and in myself.

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