I'm trying again - to keep a blog - in order to record some of the events, experiences, excitements, excesses, energies, early hours, and elements of life right now. Aaliyah and Timbaland support this. I encourage you to enjoy this track as you read these reflections.
This story begins in 2016. In numerology, 2016 is Year 9 (2+0+1+6=9), the end of a nine-year cycle that begin in 2008 (2+0+0+8=10, 1+0=1). Globally, 2016 was the end of the Obama years and the end of the European Union as we know it. David Bowie, Prince, and George Michael all died, and left us to mourn the void they left in the worlds of pop music and performance art, and, depending on your generation and proclivity for social deviants, your heart.
A lot of things also ended for me in 2016, including a two-and-a-half year relationship and thirty-three years of living in the US, my nation of birth. It was a year of challenges, surprises, and emotional trials. I lived in four different places, including a tent, and none of them felt like home. I met a lot of new people, my physical movement habits changed dramatically, and I made almost no money. These things are all distinct from one other and yet somehow related. They are each a result of the risk I took when I decided to move to Berlin. Somewhere along the way, I recognised that in order to meet all of these challenges, surprises, and emotional trials, I would need to let go - let die - some parts of myself.
Many times last year, especially when I felt lost and confused, the words "I don't know who I am anymore" floated through my head. This thought was the source of both terror and, somewhere deeper and quieter, relief. It was/is terrifying to not know who I am, because it leads me to question so much about my life and values and dreams and how I spend my time and how I treat myself and others and what I say and who and how I love and... you get the idea. It leads me to question everything and know nothing. It is a real ego-breaker. Not knowing who I was meant I didn't know what I had to give to others and the world. This insecurity can silence me, and there were many situations last year where I sat quietly, observing all the motion around me, all the while distancing myself from its swirling life, convinced I had nothing to contribute.
Now for the good part of being lost and confused. For one thing, it's such an honest experience of life (who hasn't felt lost and confused?), and accepting the processes of life - including the difficult ones - is so much easier than fighting them. For another thing, being quiet means that I got to observe not just myself but other people too - people from all over the world - and see how they do things differently. I learned so much! There's such freedom in letting go of the idea of that things are only done in one particular way (My Way) and witnessing, and adapting, to other ways. Plus, I have met and made friends with some of the most inspiring, creative, magical people I've ever known. Lastly, "I don't know who I am anymore" has allowed me to let go of some of the beliefs I had about how myself and others should be. This is where the relief rushes in, because when there isn't a belief that people/events/me/anything "should be" a certain way, I can appreciate so much more how things actually are.
I look back and wonder, How did I move through all this letting go, how did I let parts of myself die or even wilfully destroy them? The answer: hours upon hours of meditation and self-help podcasts; an everyday commitment to healing through food and movement; and a lot of trust. It was definitely not possible without the encouragement of two incredible communities of friends and family in Berlin and Durham, and the blessed combination of privilege and luck that conspired to allow me the time, resources, and support to take big risks.
Meanwhile, all that I've lost - all that has died - has left space in me for new things to grow. I've said yes to situations that I knew would make me uncomfortable in order to stimulate growth in new directions. I've practiced trusting my intuition in questions of art and love, emboldening my gut to guide my life in its own mysterious, creative way. And I've generally just chilled the f$*& out.
I don't know the future, but I do know that 2017 is a year of beginnings (2+0+1+7=10, 1+0=1). Already in its first three months I have reaped so many benefits of this awkward and wonderful dying/rebirthing project - including a month-long residency at an almost-abandoned nearly-defunct concrete factory in rural Germany, and a three-week long dance pilgrimage to Israel with a group of artists from around the world - and I have never experienced so much generosity and gratitude in my own and others' spirits. While it hasn't all been easy, and it hasn't all been perfect, there's a lot of beauty in this life, and I want to love it while I still have a chance to.
In loving memory of Tex Hobijn (1994-2017)