Monday, March 28
Last week was messy, organising for IAW1 felt draining and energising at the same time. Draining, because, as often, I took way too much responsibility on my shoulders and neglected other things I should have been focusing on. Energising, because it feels good to be in something together, to work in this fast-paced, breathless, short-time mode driven by a feeling of urgency, a feeling which is contagious. Obviously, sadly, this way of working is not sustainable over a long time, or even a short time. After a few days of out-of-the-ordinary energy and clarity and feeling of collective agency I crashed. I think the worst thing is the overcrowding of the head with to-do lists that get constantly updated, revised. New, urgent things pop up all the time, you need to shuffle around and re-define priorities, and suddenly you realise how distant you are, how strange and detached your body feels, how you breathe weirdly, how there is this pain that stretches all the way up your spine through your neck and to your crane and the worst thing is that you didn’t even notice it before.
Well anyways, after realising this and bumping into a friend, who had pulled out of many activities for a bit to protect herself from exactly this feeling of overwhelmedness, of detachment, I decided to take things slower. Of course, in these moments it seems like there is no way to slow down, everything is urgent, everything is contingent, if one connection fails to stay in place everything crumbles. A friend of mine once told me that I need to learn to ‘walk away and watch things burn’. I’m hesitant. I care about things. Maybe I should trust that somebody will be there to put out the fire. I actually prefer the metaphor of slow cooking, of putting some pots on low heat, letting them simmer, while focusing on preparing other dishes. Which is difficult enough with a gas stove.
Tuesday March 29
Another breathless week has passed way too quickly. Most of the time got swallowed up by organising for IAW, but, with the realisations gained last week, I tried to take it step by step, like Beppo the road sweeper in the children's book Momo by Michael Ende. He tells us that he only ever thinks of the next step, the next pile of dust and dirt to sweep because thinking of all those yet-to-sweep roads ahead would make the task unbearable.2 So I decided to not stress, to be confident and trust that everything will turn out fine.
Tuesday, April 19
It feels like, finally, I learned something with regards to not over-exhausting my body. Taking time off, going outside, dancing, have slightly shifted my perspective, made me more aware of the way stress manifests itself in my body. I realised that if I want to make my practice sustainable, there are lessons to be learned. So I try to be attentive to the headaches, the tensions in the neck, the nausea, and not postpone all the beautiful things I dream to do one day, when I have time. It's also notable that the pervasiveness of 'grind culture' within WdKA is mentioned in the report by the Office for Inclusivity3. As much as I love and cherish many of the people around me, we all seem to be sucked into this, and consciously or not, peer-pressure each other into feeling guilty when not working 'enough'.
I think a lot of this glorification of work, at least for me, has to do with fears regarding the future; I think I need to work as hard as I can to somehow be able to survive as an artist. And of course, there is also the idea that art or cultural activities aren't real 'work', nothing one needs a break from. And then, on a more positive note, I just get excited about too many things, and tend to feel responsible quickly. It's interesting though, how we are all busy critiquing neoliberalism and at the same time attach our feelings of self-worth to how hard we work. Of course, being able to rest and to work less is also a question of privilege. For some people, who are dependent on having many jobs and performing well, it is nearly impossible to take it slow.
1 Israeli Apartheid week is an annual series of events aimed at educating about the apartheid system in Israel and gathering support for the BDS campaign (boycott, divestment, sanctions).
2 Ende, Michael. Momo oder Die seltsame Geschichte von den Zeit-Dieben und von dem Kind, das den Menschen die gestohlene Zeit zurückbrachte. Thienemann Verlag, 2005.
3 You can find the report by the Office for Inclusivity here: Martis, Alfrida, and Ali Şahin. We Have to Change. WdKA, 2022. Accessed via: https://2122.mywdka.nl/blog /2022/04/13/publication-report-o4i/?utm_medium=email on 10 June 2022.