On a day like today - Halloween, which in my opinion is supposed to be a creative day of self-expression - many of us on the east coast are finding ourselves in the midst of a natural disaster. People have lost homes, belongings, a sense of safety and comfort, and for some even loved ones. An unwelcomed tourist shook up the snowglobe of our city and left it broken, bleeding the water that used to protect us. I was one of the lucky New Yorkers whose neighborhood somehow stayed lit and relatively unscathed, aside from fallen trees and some broken fences. And I as I sat there on Monday night watching the news, expecting my apartment to go dark any minute, worried about my friends and family spread miles apart, I felt ready to take on whatever would come. The thought crossed my mind: Maybe all we have is all we need, even if “all” becomes nothing.
But here I am with much of what I had on Monday, minus multiple bars of chocolate and tubs full of water. I’m beyond grateful and there’s also a part of me that feels guilty for still having all I have, when so many were less fortunate. I wanted to be stripped of comfort. I wanted to be faced with myself and the forces of Nature. I wanted the full moon to slap me around a bit and wake me up to who I am. I wanted the winds and the water to wash away all that is wrong and spoiled and unauthentic. When all was done, I wanted to emerge like Venus on a seashell, naked and reborn.
As I opened my notebook last night to begin writing this out, I came across a quote I had jotted down a few days earlier:
“It is self-expression, not self-scrutiny and ‘correction,’ that brings healing and happiness.” - Julia Cameron, from Walking in This World
Let me repeat that to myself:
It is self-expression that brings healing and happiness.
Not self-scrutiny or correction.
That is my wakeup call. Although imperfect, although a bit messy, I will not focus my energy on trying to fix or correct myself or self-punish for still having things. Where will that get us? Instead, I will return to the spirit of this holiday: self-expression. I will return to the world as myself, with the unique gifts I’m able to give, trusting that giving more of me will help the world around me heal. And so I will dance.
Tonight, I and group of local dancers will gather together to perform Thriller as planned. We’ll embody our shaken-up city in the guise of zombie attire, and with each shuffle and each head-turn, help it come back to life.
If you have a way of getting to Brooklyn safely, I invite you to join us tonight at 8:30pm here.
No matter where you are, I encourage you to express yourself and use your gifts. In doing so, you'll contribute to the healing and happiness of the world around you. We’re all in this together.
Do your thing, and report back in the comments below. I'd love to hear from you.
back from the dead, jess