Missing the Bus

june 28 2015, photo taken by young jogger named Vincent

After my rather uneventful knit this evening, I went to an experimental dance/music/painting performance called “Trilogy” in which they projected a video of live painting onto the bodies of the dancers whose shadows danced on the screen behind them to the undulating sounds of a slide guitar and a piano…There were moments when the bodies, the paint, and the music intertwined so completely I wanted to stop breathing.  I resonate with this desire to put people inside the art, to be the art together rather than make something that is separate, external.  It’s as if contemporary artists of all types are endeavoring to create a charged space, a metaphysical womb that holds us all together for a moment in time.  Yesterday, I had another experience of collective art when our ragtag group marched down the streets of Bellingham holding paintings in Jacob Dahlgren’s social artwork, Demonstration.  It was a moving art gallery; again the power of art animated by human bodies.  I loved it when we walked past the farmer’s market and people paused to marvel and wave…How lovely to celebrate together, to demonstrate something positive without the use of force or need to convince anyone of anything.  I felt like I was floating down a river, seeing my town afresh each time I glanced over my shoulder at the vibrant paintings bobbing up the street behind me…

Then something happened that sent me into a 24 hour tailspin.  As we walked, I started talking with Pablo about the future of my project and how I didn’t know how to present all the different components–the photos, the hose reel, the writing.  He said there were two museum curators at the demonstration, and that he would like to introduce me to one of them.  She was kind and intelligent and began asking me questions, zeroing in on what my project is about.  I felt as calm and present as one can be with a very full bladder under a beating sun…Out of the blue, she proposed to take a look at the hose reel that afternoon.  On auto pilot, I told her I had a bus to catch to Seattle.  Then we parted ways.  It wasn’t until I reached the bus station on the other side of town, that I realized I had just missed the Bus that I have been waiting for all these years–the dream of showing my work to a museum curator and maybe even exhibiting it–for the sake of a ten dollar bus ticket.  I was jerked out of the reverie that I had been in during the march, and into the presence of my inner critic who had some select words for me like “stupid idiot.”

I tried to console myself.  At least, there’s poetry in it–I mean, all these years, I’ve been knitting at a former bus stop.  And if a Bus comes one time, there’s bound to be another one, right?  I thought about all the times that I’ve had my hopes dashed, only to find that the desired outcome appears from a completely unexpected, unengineered source.  I thought about my students’ fear of failure.  Making them draw with pen instead of charcoal last week so they couldn’t erase their goofs…Whispering in one student’s ear, “Sometimes it takes courage to allow yourself to fail.”  My students are my spiritual teachers; in this moment, I needed their courage and hutzpah.  I don’t want to live in constant hesitation, so busy erasing my mistakes that I have no time left to create into the future. My life is art; mistakes and failures HAVE to be part of its unfolding…it’s not optional, because you can’t make art–let alone, show up for life–without risking failure and embarrassment on a moment to moment basis.

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4 thoughts on “Missing the Bus

  1. ravenandsparrow says:

    Oh golly…the bus. What a metaphor. Maybe you could call the curator and order a taxi?
    Your comments about creating a charged space rang home to me in reference to table settings. Not art in the free-flowing way you describe, but certainly an attempt to create a metaphorical womb for human experience.

  2. thrownfree says:

    Oh, dear, we all miss buses at one time or the other!
    I guess the important thing is not to miss the most important buses–the ones that take us to people we love, to places we long for, to the unlocked desires of our hearts. Sometimes we step up on those blindly and we find we find ourselves arriving at the place we’ve always longed for and never knew. . .those are the BEST buses.
    I agree with the comment above, though–hail a taxi and find that bus!
    Meanwhile, don’t be hard on yourself. SPAM the inner critic (SPAM is Merry’s substitute word for “Damn” :).
    KLC

    • Christen Mattix says:

      Yes, how easy it is to chase the buses that don’t satisfy. The tyranny of the urgent got the better of me this time…what’s that line, “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again?” There’s wisdom in those childhood ditties.

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