I can only pretend to have nothing. Why would one pretend such a thing? Perhaps when you are overwhelmed with something, with everything. Perhaps when you have had enough, more than enough.
In 2007, I left NYC, I had had enough. I went away from all of this, towards open spaces, with “nothing” but sky, fields of grass, clouds. I would maybe become a big fish in a little pond, rather than a tear in the ocean. I would go. I would be. I would come home again, eventually.
I pretended to have nothing to get a little bit closer to my self. I let go of it all. All the schooling I had, I felt, hadn’t taught me much about the things that mattered. I made art about the world, about my self, but who was I really? What defined this world we live in, where did the boundaries exist? Where did they blur?
I scared my self. Packed everything into the back of the Jeep and left, family and friends staying behind, wondering why would I? Luckily, there was something out there. There was more than nothing, there were some things I hadn’t bargained for. I know what that Wild woman, the one who Strayed, is talking about.
One day I was driven, covered in a blanket, out to the hill. I was to be left alone out there, crying for a vision. The spirits would be there. It was a good day to die. I had nothing but the blanket, the clothes on my back, some tobacco to offer them. I didn’t have nothing. I had my self, I had the canupa, which was like another person, and the spirits were listening. One by one, they came to visit me.
In the absence of many things, I was aware of what existed. Extreme heat in the light of day, followed by the cold of night. When I had nothing else, when I wanted to give up, I had the air to breathe in like water when I got thirsty. I had sight, I had sound. There was so much sensory information, it could not be a void, it was not nothing. I could still see, my eyes open and taking in all that was around me. My eyes closed and recreated other images I had seen throughout my life. I saw my shadow, I saw my self. I saw my shadow self, I saw me.
When I felt I had nothing else, I had my voice. I had the songs. I had music if you want to call it that. I had g*d. I had my voice to call out, I had a voice to hear, my own voice filling my own ears, making pleas and prayers and promises. I had the songs, my voice sounded foreign, mine but not mine. I had visions eventually too. I saw things, I heard things. I would remember these things but I would almost never speak of them.
I had to remove everything in order to experience this. I had to go out there willing to die for it. But knowing there was probably a finite end. An agreed upon end-point with the other human beings involved. Anything could happen. Or nothing could happen. In some ways everything happened for me out there. In other ways, nothing happened really, depending on how the story is told, depending on how you look at it.
Now I have everything again. A home, a child, a partner, a wonderful family and friends, a steady job, food on the table, clothes I like to wear. Glass jars filled with salt and sugar, herbs and spices. I have more than I need. More than enough, I have to curtail the cultural instinct to accumulate. I have to try to remember the hill everyday. I remember the canupa and the spirits every day. I don’t have to. It is part of me now.
Less is more. I will slow down again. I will move less doggedly in this new year. I will saunter, I will amble. The “new year” is an arbitrary time-marker, none-the-less, I will resolve now. I will resolve to do more with less. To pray more. To take less. To set intentions for one-ness. To stand up, even in subtle ways, against the questionable behaviors of those in authority. I will remember when it is a good day to die, and when it is not. I will remember the little ones listening to us, the seventh generation. I will be still. I will send a voice. I will sing, I will live, I will see.