When I have facilitated on Ropes Courses I have often worked with groups as they struggle through obstacles. We discuss problem solving and how they see themselves working as a group. Again and again I watch as groups get to points of discouragement, questioning if they can solve the problem in front of them. Each group has its own dynamic and way of facing problems. In our times of feedback and discussion I often raise the issue that we will all face problems in our lives. That difficulty is guaranteed but our approach to it and the way we answer it is our choice.
I thought about that this morning as I drove to the car mechanics again (And I can successfully say that problems don't come in threes. Because this is the fourth time in four months I have called AAA. I've caught up on all kinds of reading in car shops.) The irony is not lost on me - that when you ask people to face problems well you have to be honest with how you deal with trouble in your own life.
It has been a year of huge ups and downs and a great deal of chaos. Beautiful moments of watching Amiche put on Song of Songs. A piece I'm proud of in so many ways. Amiche's kickstarter campaign succeeded and an original script put together for our next piece at Amiche. I've had moments of wonderful conversation with artists locally and at gatherings like STORYChicago.
But these good moments have come in the midst of a great deal of chaos. A year of watching people suffering. A year of questions and mess.
Make art I keep saying.... And so I've tried. I've written, danced, acted in the midst of chaos.
I haven't always faced the storms with grace and calm, I have my moments, but honestly there has been a lot of crying. Anger. Battles against bitterness.
I wish I could say there was great nobleness that faced the difficulties.
But it's mostly been messy.
I don't have answers. And art doesn't have answers for me. But the joy I find in it is the walking with.
That creating art, even when faced with yet another set back is about walking with. Walking with those who have cried with me. Walking with those who have offered kindness. Walking with those who have encouraged me and my work. Walking with those who have helped pay the bills. Walking with those who have not judged but kept walking alongside me.
I don't have answers to the problems on Ropes Courses. But I know the groups that are 'successful' are the ones that see one another, listen, and are present to walk with each other.
My sister said that sometimes life feels like the game of Snakes and Ladders. You work so hard to get to the final spot, only to find yourself one step away and sent back to the beginning. And I nodded in agreement because life does often feel that way. You get so close to something good only to find yourself starting all over again. I don't know how to face these moments well. But I am humbled by my sister's courage to get up once again after being sent to start. I am inspired by a friend who has been wrestling with suicide and getting up and moving forward each day. They aren't celebrating large triumphant victories and yet still are wrestling to take steps forward. One foot in front of the other.
I don't want to cover up the hardness. And so I look to the past and the present and find reminders of artists and many others who faced difficulties in their lives. They walk with me in the midst. And I am reminded that I am part of the long history of artists creating in chaos. Together we seek the beauty tucked into the chaos of life.
The work is hard. And I look for those who care for the creation of art and the creators in the world. For those who see the artists as well as the work. I look for those who take one step forward at a time and invite me along their journey.