Sunday, May 3, 2009
It's kind of ironic that today I finally moved into my studio, and I'll have to vacate it at the end of the month. I took the studio back in November, and then my brother had his stroke, and I've had to spend much of my winter in Tucson. I rented it to a friend from New York, who lived in it for the past 4 months. Now it looks like I'll have to summer in Tucson, leaving for D.C. in August. I've not really had a chance to get to know this town, to feel a part of it, before it's time to leave again. Will I be back? I don't know. So I went into the studio today, and kind of wandered around, making tea and unsure of how to inhabit it. I finished one of my "hands" pieces..........I would like to make a series of such "tiles" someday.
The fact of the matter is that my winter has been spent going back and forth between Tucson, and I've accomplished little in my creative life except many questions about what I can, should, or want to do in the future. My brother suffered a massive stroke in November, and has been sustained by breathing machines and feeding machines in a vegetative state since then. I am suspended in a kind of "bardo" with him - I so often wished I could help him in his unhappy life, and was impotent to do so. Now I can't even help him to die, thanks to the obscenity of a technology that keeps people alive whose spirits have left. This is truly what I feel about my brother. He's not there.
My mother and other brother want me to live at home with them and become my mothers caretaker, a job I've on and off tried to fulfill for years now, a familial cord that has kept me for years in a situation I find depressing, lonely, and never somehow able to transcend. My creativity dries up in Tucson like water on the hot pavement, and it never seems to matter how many affirmations or churches or meetings I go to. Without my creativity, what am I? Living with people who do not have the means to value my creative life, I soon, even now and after all these years, doubt its worth myself. Self pity? I don't know.
At any rate, this has been the winter of waiting for my poor brother to die. There is no grace in this, only the awful impersonal gray halls of hospitals and nursing homes, and denial which seems to me to be endemic to our world. My mother and surviving brother, David, are unable to talk about the prospect of Glenn dying - it is as if it is something that "cannot be spoken" or it will break the spell of imagining that he is somehow going to get well. What a strange culture America is, that cannot speak about death until it suddenly is no longer possible to avoid the truth of it. Could I pull the plug, if I had the power? I do not know. I pray that he is not conscious, not able to perceive himself paralyzed within a body that will never be able to function again. I have been able to get Glenn into a hospice program, and have found a social worker and a minister to offer help and comfort to my mother when the time comes.
Me? I would be false if I didn't say I wish I could just stay in my studio for a while and see what emerges, or get in my car and drive east, watching the world green again, thinking of the emergence of life, instead of all this death. At this moment, I have neither spiritual insight, or artistic meaning and expression to draw from this that will somehow give the situation energy, transcendance, meaning. It's what it is, and sometimes, as the poet says (Robin Williamson) "A stone is just a stone."
I seem to have pulled my "Butterfly" book out - a fantastic coffee table book by photographer Thomas Marent. It's the truth of all of this, transformation and waiting rooms and passages. If I allow any anger in this, the awful stuck ignorance of my family, and a society that denies the passages of life..........causes so much more suffering than is necessary.
The butterfly, it seems to me, is the true symbol for all of this.