I arrived today at betOnest, a "new art space located in a former cement factory on the edge of Germany. It is rural, raw, and epic. A pre-post apocalypse heaven for aspiring artists" (from the website). I came here once before, last summer, and I fell in love with it immediately. beTonest is a sprawling vestige of old East Germany, a decrepit (but functional) amalgam of huge mostly-empty buildings, defunct machinery, and oddly shaped concrete structures numbering in the thousands. After lunch and a tour of the old on-site office building in which I will live for the next month, I ventured out into the snow and ice to explore beTonest on my own.
Thirty minutes and many photographs later, I found what I had been unconsciously looking for: a good standing spot.
Several weeks ago, as I thought about what I might do here during my month-long residency, so many ideas came to mind: make dance films! sew costumes! do art installations! Also, learn German! Make friends with locals! Envision my future and start making it happen! In the middle of this whirlwind of ambition, a little voice inside me spoke: What if you just stand still?
BUT THAT'S NOT ART, I yelled back, exasperated at the voice and annoyed by the idea. I AM AN ARTIST!!!!!! (see this video for proof). Instead of yelling back, the voice just repeated, evenly and unapologetically, But what if you just stand still? Despite my resistance, I felt I could trust this small but mighty voice; instead of demanding that I do something active with my body, it simply extended an invitation to do an unfamiliar, extremely un-ambitious and extremely accessible, thing: stand still.
So I tried it. I wasn't intending to start today, but in my wandering there came a spot at which I thought, Why not?
For somewhere between 40 and 100 breaths (I lost count), I stood mostly still. My eyes opened and closed, my ears only opened, my feet got numb, and, to my surprise, I was never bored. In the moments I did look around, I noticed shape and light more than I had before my stillness. I spotted a mouse running from concrete hole to concrete hole. And after only ten breaths, I sensed a depth of peace that I haven't felt in awhile. I stayed until I was ready to leave, and then I left, slowly winding my way back to the office building I temporarily call home.
When this idea was hatched, I was operating on the assumption that:
Standing Still = Doing Nothing = Not Being Productive = Wasting Time = Fucking Up
If that is the case, than I spent between 40 and 100 breaths Fucking Up today. After my practice today, however, I am wondering if this:
Standing Still = Not Forcing Myself to Do Something (anything) = Quieting My Body = Perceiving and Receiving the World Better = Having a Totally Awesome Experience of Being Alive
might also be the case. If so, then I spent between 40 and 100 breaths Having a Totally Awesome Experience of Being Alive today.
Maybe they're both true. Today, standing still made me feel pretty great. Tomorrow? Who knows . . .
STAY TUNED FOR MORE EXCITING ADVENTURES IN STANDING STILL!