Some thoughts on leaving and coming back
I am preparing to fly West this afternoon, after a busy and very productive several months in various spots in Nova Scotia. A great residency with Scott Smallwood, and new work launched in Parrsboro, at Main & Station. The start of some new and exciting collaborations with Deborah Carruthers and with Susan Tooke. Time to experiment with cyanotype processes, work on video and audio projects. Time to hike, to make photographs, to think, to further the long-term process of healing my body (thank you Acupuncture and Massage Therapy!)
It feels like much more time has passed since I was last on ‘home turf’ – or rather, that the tempo and scale of time as I experience it has shifted in a fundamental way – and now I have to find my way back to something more familiar. Not quite there – and I think that’s a very good thing. VERY.
It was a good place and time to be reminded of the diverse (and often very difficult, painful) histories of any given place. How easy it is not to see that – how easy to get lost in the vast beauty of the place – any place – and look but not see. The beauty is part of those histories; it’s woven into the different scales of time inherent in that locale to be sure. Geologic time. Tidal Time. Seasonal Time. Mythic time. Colonial Time (a very slippery fish, this one). Settlement Time. Expulsion Time. Industrial Time. And on and on … but make no mistake, there’s nothing linear about this.
The ‘present’ as we fashion it in any given moment is its own rabbit hole; a crucial vantage point (and obviously the only one available in a pragmatic sense), but it’s also a very troubled and troubling place from which to assess the relative value of most things and actions and ideas … . The popular narratives that tend to overwhelm all other chatter are still those that yoke the present to doing cartwheels toward the ‘somehow-better-future’. Because, of course ‘things’ will be ‘improved.’ This is the wish, the hope, and the outcome to be willed into being, somehow.
And under it all, the land remains—a page upon which this story is “written, erased, rewritten,” as author Teju Cole put it. Only memory and history can interrupt this cycle of revision we commonly refer to as progress. And those interruptions are vital, absolutely necessary, if we are to navigate some way toward a better way of existence for ourselves (on all levels), and co-existence with all beings.
Remains to be seen how well I am able to carry these glimmers of understanding forward as I return to the familiar places and routines – but the intent (and hope) is there. Patience, process, compassion.