(Song dedication: Ong Namo by Snatam Kaur)
If I am asked to…nope…when I am asked to make the choice between accepting an event as random and coincidental or intentional and definite, I will always choose the latter. At least now I do anyway. 2020 has made it so. And who am I to argue with this hideous monster of a new decade who has repeatedly (and disturbingly to the point of severely) bore its fangs and hissed poison in our faces so boldly (that was my poetic attempt to not simply define 2020 as a ‘bag of dicks’…although I’ve always felt that phrase also has it’s poetic tone in it’s own special way).
Let me start (and I only promise a ‘start’) in a linear fashion, so not to pull a brain muscle and keep you with me…as you and I (reader and writer) are out of shape with these whiplashy posts of mine. The featured image is something my ego is quite proud of. It was taken last year during a street art tour of Shoreditch, after I attended my biological Father’s funeral in Wales and had to subsequently ‘make a run for it’ when my Uncle began harassing me for money from my Father’s estate (the day after the funeral…nice timing, asshole).
So rather than partake in a healing journey (with said ‘Uncle’) to my ancestral Northern English hamlets and spread my Father’s ashes and bring ‘closure’ to the undertaking of healing old wounds from 39 years of unresolved childhood trauma, I made a choice to cut ties and get back to London ASAP.
With an extra day to fill before my scheduled flight, I made the most of it doing something I love. I signed up for this tour with a local who shared a love for art and how it should be accessible to all; the sometimes congested and always cobblestoned streets being our gallery.
I took a bajillion photographs, listened to the guide’s anecdotes and facts behind a myriad of 2-d and 3-d images and allowed myself a break from the emotional turmoil of the previous days…or even the previous decades. I got lost in myself, within the safety of like-minded strangers whom I could follow along like the unknowing tourist I was (that right there was a witty nod to the greater metaphor of life). I took a fucking break from myself is what I did, and it was perfection.
So already you can see that I am up to my old tricks of hitting you over the head with ‘silver linings’ and ‘it all happens for a reason shit’. Why do I do this? Because! I am the one with the condition of reoccurring amnesia for life’s biggest teachings…I learn, I forget, I learn, I dismiss, I re-learn, and maybe at some point, if I am lucky, it becomes an innate part of my knowing.
So back to the image my ego loves so much. Ego thinks this is the best image she’s ever made. And that is why we are calling her out. Because Ego had nothing to really do with this image. She’s not even in it for chrissakes! If you want to actually ‘see’ her you can check out our instagram. What happened in this image, is subtle divinity taking a nod to greet my soul…gawd, that came off a bit arrogant didn’t it? (cringe, but stay with me because this image is important to my knowing and belief in trust and intention of what is).
What’s all the fuss then, Sarah?
As I stood on a busy sidewalk at 10am, in a group of 12 other annoying tourists, we stopped to take in this work by French urban mural artist, Zabou. To say this Salvador Dali portrait spray-painted on a hair salon store-front steel gate on Commercial St, is striking is an understatement. It is so. many. things.
The photograph that I was able to capture with my camera was a moment of alignment. The artist’s intention is to not only make art accessible but to, “…connect communities and enable people to have a direct impact on their environment.”
When I first looked through the 400 images I took that day (and no that wasn’t hyperbole…that may even be an underestimate), this one caught my attention for the art work in and of itself…I mean the startling oh-so-Dali stare alone is bizarrely arresting but it was the interaction of the unwitting passerby that really grabbed me by the eyeballs.
And that’s where I began to acknowledge or even…bow down to the idea…that there are no coincidences of random events. Here is why I think so…
The blonde woman walking with her phone cradled in her hands taking all, if not most of her attention appears to be stabbing Dali directly in the eye, breaking the intensity of his ogling gaze with the viewer. A violent homage to the disconnect that can sometimes feel like an affliction toward the human craving for acknowledgment. No matter how hard he tries to bare down on this interaction, it is forever interrupted in this captured image…allowing only half of his attention to be shared. The technology that connects us globally, stabs at our attention and steals our full capacity to be present and intimate on a smaller scale.
Her bag! You probably noticed that on your own, but just in case, I will literally spell it out for you. It fucking matches Dali’s coat. What’s spooky AF about this particular nugget, Zabou had recently updated Dali’s attire with a fresh coat of painted-new-pattern, leopard print. How does the saying go…a leopard never changes its spots? An expression about human’s innate nature and their inability to change. Dali, himself, the master of surrealism was a highly peculiar character, embracing the unconventional and thriving on drama and controversy from his fascination with Hitler to his own sexuality, including his penis (first time I’ve wrote that word in my blog…felt like it was worth noting and it did kinda come out of nowhere…so my apologies). Even from the beginning, born 9 months after the passing of his 22-month-old brother, whom his parents had originally named Salvador…he was taught from a very young age that he was in fact, his brother reincarnated. Those leopard spots really stuck.
The lines and space in the photograph are also intriguing to me. The way the golden halo encompasses them both, 2-d portrait and 3-d human…the line of her dipped head perfectly parallel with the curve of paint. The way her fair falls in symmetry with the chain of his melting pocket watch, as her white sneaker just misses stepping on the white face spilling onto the sidewalk like she is subconsciously avoiding stepping in the manufactured mess as if it were a child’s beheaded 99 (flake bar impaled through vanilla soft serve ice cream, if you’ve been to the UK…you know).
My camera’s shutter speed set slow to capture the light and still images, not quick enough to crisply capture her pace as her flowing pants show the kinetics of a purposeful, non-meandering type walk. The juxtaposition of dynamic and static energy. Her body language and motion make me wonder about the other stories at play in this image…where is she coming from…where is she going…is she excited or bored…does she even know I’m here contemplating this all, over a year later…likely not. Ew…am I a creep?? Please don’t answer that.
And finally, the kelly green of her trench just so happens to match the tag of another’s spray paint can. Another artist…or at least human…begging to be part of the story. Don’t forget about me, please.
All of it immortalized digitally and hanging on my living room wall.
So that turned into the paper I never wrote about Art Theory during my 4 years of Art School, but damn, if I could turn back time by melting a clock or two…I’d kick my fine art degree’s ass because I pretty much sucked the first time around….because my 20’s.
Okay, so there is that. And I could stop there because I’ve been dying to write about this photograph for a while now. Mission
accomplished over-accomplished. But there is a reason I finally committed to the act of writing this today.
<Intermission> Hey, you’ve already bitten off more than you bargained for so stop for a water/washroom break or stretch those legs during this natural lull in the write…ha…who are we kidding, half of you probably read this on the toilet anyway.
And welcome back…
I woke up this morning (yay me) and took my phone out of airplane mode (if you don’t do this, please do – give your brain a rest from the electromagnetic pollution that it bathes in most of the day). A text came through from a friend that excitedly explained to me in detail, a dream she had about me…well more specifically my hair…the night before. I won’t get into all the details, but in all its strangeness it made me chuckle and feel warm and fuzzy that someone’s subconscious was thinking of me. What I liked most is she felt compelled to share it with me, because that kinda shit takes effort. So I began my day feeling curiously acknowledged and I am apparently into that.
Then, while making Jack’s lunch, we were joking around and while he was suppose to be grabbing the snacks to put in his lunchbox (yes he owns an actual metal lunchbox…because jack) he grabbed a piece of chocolate to throw in there and I reigned him in a bit…asking him to put it back. Which he did…gabbing a rootbeer candy with the suggestion that this might be a more appropriate snack. Okay judgey-pants…why is there multiple candy choices in your cupboards anyway…because there is, that’s why.
I also asked him to put those back. As he did with a grand arm sweeping gesture the candies fell out of the bag and spilled on the ground, causing us to laugh again…and by that I mean me…I laughed at him. His energy levelled up and rather than picking up the candy he threw the (what he thought was) empty bag toward me. It had a remaining hard candy in it and it hit me square in the eye. The laughing promptly died.
I got mad. He got embarassed. I asked What the fffffuuuhhhh did you do that for? He froze. I got more mad. He picked up the candy and skulked to his room to let me calm down.
Ultimately, I reacted to begin with. With a few minutes to myself I realized a few things. He was just being a kid. These things happen. He did not mean to hurt me. Most importantly, he didn’t know how to respond after to help the situation…instead he froze.
Within 6 minutes of the ‘incident’ I had recovered my Mom hat (that had been knocked off by the candy hit to the orbital bone) and decided to address this to teach him how to respond the next time he accidentally hurts someone because it will happen again. I modelled for him what he could say and do the next time he causes harm and we hugged it out.
I see that my son struggles with doing shit wrong…just like me. And then when the wrongness seeps in, it’s hard to shake it and make the right choice to make it better. A simple apology, a check in to ask if you are okay and maybe a little sympathetic hug can go along way when you fuck up. He didn’t know what to do because I am also terrible at apologizing…apologizing means admitting you were wrong.
I am so glad I took a rootbeer barrel to the face before 8 am while making a Wow Butter and Jam sandwich…seems random, but the learning was not. The learning was timely and significant for all involved.
After dropping him at school, I went onto my massage therapy appointment. Let’s be honest, the massage is great for managing my chronic pain, but the conversations shared and the connection I experience has made my therapist a trusted friend (hey you…thanks for reading;).
We talk about all sorts of things while she is healing me and so the words exchanged are a healing salve as well. Today we had this conversation about choices and stressing about choice and when there is no obvious choice, maybe it’s because the choiciest choice hasn’t yet presented itself (I am massively paraphrasing here).
We talked about how the choices we make are the power we seek. I felt compelled to share how empowered I feel when I respond to adversity by putting my foot down creating clear boundaries. But felt the need to also share that I don’t need to stomp my feet down or thump my chest with insistence anymore. I know where I stand and I can do that as quietly as I like because the power is in my choice, not with how (loudly, forcefully, insistently) I express it. This resonated for her as well.
We finished my session talking about totem animals, which again seems kinda random, but as that conversation played out, it brought me great clarity to why I am getting another tattoo this weekend. I do it to honour my learning from struggles and to have a visual reminder of my core values…own your power, trust in what is, be brave and be generous. There will be no regrets for this ritual I have chosen and carefully planned to honour my journey…unless Andrew gets his way…he proposed a manticore…look it up, I dare you. Now that is what 2020 has been, the most confusing and terrifying, dangerous Greek beast out there. Careful, because you can’t unsee this thing.
She left the room and as if on cue a song came on that reminded me to remember. Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo is a sanskrit mantra that I was introduced to last winter when we were allowed to gather outside our bubble and do things like socialize and in this particular case, meditate. Its general meaning being I bow to the teacher within.
And so just when you thought that was it…it’s not.
One more eerie thing that basically put a gun to my head and said you must write to show how even the weirdest, seemingly arbitrary events are not by chance…I get in my car after the massage and I have another message from another friend reaching out to tell me she also had a vivid dream about me last night.
So, I can’t really be sure what the dreaming part is all about…maybe someone out there has the knowledge to explain this to me? But at the very least I take it as reinforcement that all is as it’s supposed to be; no matter how bizarre, incomprehensible or capriciously unrelated it seems at the time. I trust. And because I trust I feel the power within. In contrast, when I allow myself the opposite, when I choose to identify happenings as random and pointless…I feel uneasy. So much so, that gravity stops working and I have nowhere to put my boundaries because my feet have detached from the ground.
I hope you have your neck brace handy, that definitely veered hard after my promised linear warm-up.