a quiet joy

It’s a slow Friday morning in Yorta Yorta Nation / Shepparton. I’m writing this whilst still in bed at the lakeside cabin I am staying for these couple of nights. I can hear the frogs (I think?), and the sun through my window. It’s the first real slow morning I’ve had in a while.

I am listening.

The frogs, birds; a car door – it drives away.
Someone’s laughter, the click-clack of this keyboard.

Last week, I was listening to the ocean. I was listening to Yugambeh Elders. I was listening to my body. I was listening to country.

I was listening to the participants and provocateurs at GenerateGC share their practice, their aspirations, and themselves.

I was listening to myself – unravelling from months of seeming stagnation and creeping imposter syndrome – articulate my body of work, and my approach, and my values. And I was witnessed. And I was affirmed.

How hungry I was to be invigorated, inspired and acknowledged!

For the past months, in the season of life as an artist, I found myself mostly wearing the producer and arts manager hats working at TNA, some extra temp work, and (for the past year really!) with all the pitching and planning I was doing with both Dan and Ling.

It has been a slog, and I was feeling it. And it has been a slog for returns I cannot quite seem to see yet. And I need a win.

In a recent conversation with a presenter – I walked away exhausted. Granted, it was already a long day at work, and a switching of headspace to have that conversation while en route to the next engagement. That was not wise, nor fair to the people on the other end of the line.

But whilst the conversation went well – the relationship continues to be built, the project clearer understood, the process being navigated – I realised I was never quite told what they actually liked about the project.

Sure I was told why it fit in the curatorial framework, or that strategically it made a lot of sense – but I wasn’t sure if they were even excited about it at all. I am reminded of the many other conversations I have had before that had left me wanting like this.

I am also aware that no one owes me the expression of their excitement in such a situation. It was, after all, work.

But like all relationships – whilst I am mostly very independent and self-assured – I want to be wanted.

And sometimes, it would be nice to feel that – even if I know that.

Because the heart gets weary. The spirit down.
And sometimes, you just need someone else to carry the load for a bit.

I’ve been craving the attention of a lover.
I’ve been craving the tag-teaming of chores you can have with a partner.
I’ve been craving mom’s home cooked meal of ABC soup, steamed fish, stir-fried cabbage with dried shrimp and tung-hoon and sambal belacan and rice.
I’ve been craving –
A proper weekend. An off day. Down time. Pause.

Whilst I did not get down time – I got dream time.

The privilege to be a provocateur at GenerateGC and meander through conversations about art and place and people; with feet still in the water, an Elder guides me to crack fresh pippies and taste the salty flesh; immerse in saltwater and artistic friendships – my heart sings and cries all at once for opportunities such as these.

And then to apply all of that listening and values and approach into five days of getting to know Yorta Yorta Nation / Shepparton as I meet the locals, listen to place, and imagine possibilities. With no expectation of outcomes at this point – to simply be here, to pass through – to find another way in which to be a guest.

I get to be the artist.

How precious are these waves?

Of hunger and desire; then of nourishment and overflow.

In times of inertia – we carry equal potential of stillness and movement – how do we dig deep into our fears and find the courage to cross the threshold?
On the precipice of something new, on the cusps of the unknown, from where in our bodies do we make the first movement, gesture or leap?

And how – in amongst the weariness, inertia and fear – to remember that I lead with joy.  

Read | Nithya Nagarajan asks me some crunchy questions for Liminal

Mark in your diary | Sacred Grooves for Secular Spaces led by Nithya Nagarajan with collaborators, 14 March 2020, MPavillion

image by Leah Jing McIntosh

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