Tuesday, March 17, 2020

It's also okay to take time to grieve.

Eva Yaa Asantewaa

It's also okay to take time to grieve.

by Eva Yaa Asantewaa, InfiniteBody

Hey, friend! How are you doing? How are you faring in this new reality?

Me? It's different from moment to moment, day to day. And that's the way I've learned to take it. Because that's the only way it's going to work. The information and guidelines and rules we're getting evolve as this coronavirus pandemic sweeps across the world, our state and our city, and we inch along towards an unknown future. We're all trying to do our best.

Well, some of us, actually, are doing our usual. Which is not helpful. It's a time for responsibility. And I'm livin' in the USA where gun sales are rising and young people have to be forced to stay away from bars.

Anyway, my fellow Americans, my fellow New Yorkers, my fellow arts folks, here's where we find ourselves.

Lord love us, the virus struck, our daily habits and plans and expectations got shut down but--damnit!--we got busy. Right away!

We've now put a flood of videos and livestreams out with everything from opera performances to yoga and meditation and cooking classes to art museum tours. Oh, thank goodness we've got the Internet and social media and the same electronic devices we'd just spent months and months complaining about and trying to spend more time away from so we could have authentic experiences with our loved ones IRL.

Now, we're finally making good on those old resolutions to study French or learn to knit or...I don't know...maybe master brain surgery on YouTube. And there's just so much out there to dig into while we wait for the world to turn right-side up again (or what we thought was right-side up...that's debatable).

There's more and more and more online content every day for the stuck-at-home. I've got friends and colleagues busy making some of it. And even this blog post! Because we're resilient, we're creative, we want to keep active before we lose our natural minds. It's really fantastic, isn't it?

It's also exhausting.

All the time in the world now to catch up with the tons of unread books I have here, the millions of unread articles I have saved in the Pocket app, the podcasts people keep telling me I have to hear, my Netflix list, my bag of knitting supplies, my personal writing, the two free Coursera courses I've just signed up for and--Godx, help me--my lifelong practice of introversion. And yet....

I can't. Anyone else feel me on this? I just can't.

I wish I could put this enforced isolation time to good use. But....

It even took me a while to realize I could write a post like this to share with you how I'm feeling.

Because we're supposed to spring into action as if nothing, absolutely nothing could ever slow us down.

We're Americans, damn it!

We're New Yorkers, damn it!

We got through 9/11 together, and we'll power through this trauma.

And I actually think, as much as artists and folks who work with artists--particularly dance artists--are marginalized in this society, most of us have a keen sense of responsibility to community and world, a sense of generosity and mission, that moves us to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, start all over again. Right away!

I'm here to admit I'm both feeling it (that natural urge) and not feeling it.

I'm leaning in...and swerving away.

And, yeah, all of the labor I normally do (and dearly love) is dependent upon either:

1) getting wonderful artists into spaces where they will perform live in front of, I hope, densely-packed audiences (curation)

2) attending and reporting on live performances amid often densely-packed audiences (dance writing).

So, right. I've got lots of new time on my hands. But my proudest achievements, lately, involved strategic grocery shopping and the complete reorganization (and subsequent re-stuffing) of my pantry.

My newly-unfolding Spring season at Gibney is in tatters; my calendar for other New York City happenings is suddenly wiped cleaner than a subway pole first thing on a March morning. And I miss every one of you I used to encounter all the time on my sidewalk, in the lobbies and aisles of performance venues, in the corridors and studios of my workplace.

I miss you. I'm grieving. It's okay to take time to grieve a little. It's okay to take a look around and realize you don't know what to do next. You just don't know what to do. You feel overwhelmed and helpless in the face of unimaginable uncertainty. And you're no expert on any of this.

Take even just a minute. You can spare a minute.

2020. Remember when we thought this was a fresh new year with a cute name? Little did we know it was coming for us. Threatening our health, our businesses, our incomes, our socializing, our freedom to greet one another with a warm hug in the time-honored manner.

Last night, when I couldn't even relax with a Met Opera video (free!) because, I guess, the system wasn't strong enough for all the new demand on it, I threw in the towel. I went to bed, read a little, went to sleep. Sleep is also free and, occasionally, you feel refreshed when you wake up from it.

Lately, waking up from it has also been a proud achievement.

Productivity is as American (and as capitalist) as apple pie. And this Virgo, of course, would love to feel useful and productive. This blog post is actually a tilt in that direction. Look, I'm communicating with you again! But what I'm communicating is about making space for my feelings--and yours. I hope you can feel it's okay to do the same.

Take good care of yourself and all who are precious to you and a comfort to you in this difficult moment. I send much love and wishes for your safety and well-being!



DISCLAIMER: In addition to my work on InfiniteBody, I serve as Senior Curatorial Director of Gibney. The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views, strategies or opinions of Gibney.


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Unknown said...

Dear Eva,

Thank you for articulating this so beautifully. Everything you said resonates. I have also been trying to think about how to reach people via digital platforms. But this morning I thought "is it just noise?".

My question is "how do we activate networks of care?"

Maybe we need more quiet, more silence, more stillness and space to feel the grief.

Much love and gratitude,


Jody Oberfelder said...

Thank you for noting the fluctuation we are all feeling: thinking you can handle it and suddenly feeling aimless. It's helping me to be physical.

I ate a half a bag of terra chips while listening to The Daily's story about a dad of three who works in a hospital in Italy. I hopped on my computer to the Gibney newsletter, signed up for a Gaga People class tonight, and took Katy Pyle's Ballez class. So beautiful to feel fleeting joy while tendu-ing. Hello community!

I am grieving for freedom, being physically people, especially with dancers, and working very hard to be super in the moment. Reading analog helps, as does doing things with my hands cooking, embroidering. Also researching, thinking and writing, planning and imagining. When I can concentrate on something and not worry, I'll follow that thread. Though I'm frayed.

Thanks for your reflections.

~~~~~~sending love out to people~~~~~~

Jody Oberfelder

Hulamama said...

I loved readng this because it made feel not alone in being unproductive and slow to spring to action and show everyone that Gosh darn it, I've got this. Sometimes I don't got this, and it's ok.
Thank you.
Marina Celander

Alice Klugherz said...

thanks for this! I thought this would be a quiet time - instead we are now detaching even harder with everything ONLINE...I know its great but it just feels overwhelming. And I just hate it.

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