Everything is a process
What is it to being the first?
(before the storm in the village)
Hello, my dear readers,
I welcome you to the recently started year. This year I am far from any loud promises or resolutions. But I have some directions that I want to focus on. Maybe my way of thinking will resonate with you or give you ideas. Strangely enough these are not art oriented directions. But I believe they will help me to feel deeper connection with my art. So main goals are to get back to practices that are about my body and also learn how to write clearly. I want to do yoga, hiking and swimming regularly. And write these letters to you.
Last year rooted so much stress somewhere deep in my physical body. And even if I seem fine from the outside, I cannot and don’t really want to brush it off. Every time I consciously realize how my body moves - be it in water, on hike or yoga mat - I feel so much gratitude and aliveness. I am not sure how esoteric or weird it sounds, but I do believe that we are detached from out bodies these days and don’t love it enough.
I am not really interested in sport achievements or competition in a classical way. Idea of being the first doesn’t really sit well with me - I mean, ok, you are first so what?:) Does it make one exceptional?
Recently we watched Encanto. Most probably you already did, but a minor spoiler alert just in case. Weirdly I had an urge to cry every time main hero faced her mundanity and lack of magical powers. And how hard she took the knowledge that no matter how hard she tries she will just never be good enough. I try to understand why is that - my reaction I mean. Is it because I don’t feel like I have my thing or my style? Am I her? I am not special, just a human. I never was exceptionally good in anything when I was growing up. I was passably good. And somehow I learnt that this is not enough.
Quite often I was the second in class. Very good, very smart, very quick, but often the second. Back then I quite liked it to be honest, because the pressure on the first was not funny. I was the same smart, but a bit relaxed. And invisible. I did not mind it back then, as I remember. But somehow I felt that I should be bothered and try better. I just read in the news that the second man on the moon married at 93. I never knew his name, I knew Armstrong. But never knew there was actually the second guy (as I understand there was even the third). But did he work less then Armstrong? Hell no. Buzz Aldrin is his name. So now you know too.
Fastforward to now. When I grew up, when I became a mom, when I started a drawing community, I felt it as my calling to reframe this “exceptionality and only the first matters” concept. For me, for my child, for my art and for my friends. Everything is a process, everything matters. And being the first is not always the One Thing. It is easier to sell though, right? Be the first who… dopamine fireworks baaaam!
But the journey itself brings joy by way of actually moving. I wouldn’t say though that results don’t matter at all. It is another myth. When I go for a hike, I really love this exuberant joy when I reach a point with a beautiful view and turn back and there is this - ah - moment. But would I feel the same if I just teleported myself up without the labor of ascending? Maybe, yeah, but not so deep. Effort matters as much as the result.
I finished reading Why we swim by Bonnie Tsui, and boiiii this book pissed me off at some point. But I am glad that I have read it anyways. I am not here to trash the work the author did, but the focus of this book was not something I was longing and waiting from the read. What caught my attention in the beginning it that the book is divided into “spheres” connected with swimming - survival, well-being, community, competition, flow.
I was anticipating community chapter the most. And when I realized that everything the author has to say about community is based on the Baghdad swim team - people who formed unofficial swimming community while stationed in Iraq - I felt bewildered. Because it was described in kinda romanticized way. I don’t really want to read about bombings and shelling in the community section of a book which is about why we swim. Is it truly the only way to speak about meaning of community for swimmers? Also I did not enjoy talking in elevated ways about a woman who only felt the value of swimming when she won the competition. It seems like praising unhealthy mental patterns. Which we have too much of. I would love books that aim towards reducing amount of such patterns. Maybe it is my personal trigger, because I have this issue with being first, also maybe it was too much war in this book, I didn’t enjoy it as I was hoping too. So if you have any book recommendations which are more like the Outrun by Amy Liptrot. Or Mary Oliver’s Upstream - I am here to pencil those. I look for anything autofiction, journaling, memoir, nature, philosophy and such.
Oh well, it is time to wrap up for now. It seems that (as usual) there is no short and simple answer here. And words elude me, this is why I started these dispatches. I want to practice shaping the ideas from the fog of thought. I could have written it all just for myself, but you here help me to be accountable. To aim towards understanding and being understood. So I thank you deeply!
P.S.: we will have a residence interview on Monday, cross fingers for us, things got really tough here lately. I will let you know in the next dispatch!
What I was up to:
Gaming: I made a couple of quests in Genshin Impact that almost brought me to tears. Even if it is a gatcha game at its basis, I love that they provide such deep stories for different heroes and I can imagine that gamers might be validated through connecting with these heroes.
Reading: Set Virginia Woolf on hold for a while. So went to Upstream by Mary Oliver, my friend brought it to me from the UK, I enjoy so much how she writes. Sometimes I don’t get what she means, but this is okay. I will eventually.
Watching: Encanto, I loved how colorful and beautiful it is. But the beginning was hard to watch for me because I connected with Mirabel so much. I loved that the theme of immigrant forced leave are scratched here in a way that is not too painful so one would want to turn away. Spoiler: I was hoping for more healthy separation at the end though.
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