14 Miles on foot: Why try?

This walk: Windward Ave. (Venice Beach, Ca) to Pacific Coast Highway and Sunset (Malibu, CA), Loop; Total Miles: 14

long walk PCH 2.24.14 copyI imagined
we were god. Failing.

There walking
along the foothill.
Slow, the bones
in our feet touching
the ground. The
arches bending
under the weight
of our thinking.
And still
we go inside. filled
with light.
white bar
And there were so many things I wanted to take with me and couldn’t carry!

the crow, his black feather
brass rivet in the sand that caught the sunlight
the bee that landed in my palm and did not sting me
little girl on roller skates that wanted to go home; she cried: but mom, what is the point in all of this?

And I made endless lists in my head, trying desperately to remember, everything, regretting deeply that I hadn’t brought with me a notebook, a pen, a camera. Surely, everyone will want to see even the tiniest details of my observations! This is all so sublime and meaningful! Somehow each of these small things is important!

If strung together in a story, every interference from the world outside of myself into the world inside of myself marks a potential to describe what it is I am doing here, as I subject my body voluntarily to the labor of walking a very long distance.

But none of these things could be represented. For inside the space of a photo, never would there be contained what it was in that moment to encounter their happening. Why it among so many others stood out to me. And as I walk I notice, I am made aware of each of these occurrences. I move through the physical sensation of excitement, energetic movement, into the process of total exhaustion. I observe the progression of my awareness, the way my sensitivities are heightened as the walk persists, how the depletion of my body’s resources impacts the level at which I am able to see and perceive, sometimes expanding, sometimes contracting. How by the end of the walk, the body has been so pushed against by sun and gravity that I am made to choose how I will see the world around me, to be enveloped in it, to unearth its beauty or ugliness through my gaze or to sink into that tiredness, to decline, to say in so many ways: I am too tired to look. My feet hurt.

So without a way to document these progressions, to articulate them accurately, what are we left with? If at the end of it I have nothing to show for my work, why did I do it? Here I am having a direct experience with the world, experiences that reveal themselves as metaphoric, analogous with what we describe as life or living (the human condition!), They are all so special! And I am charged with responsibility of articulating that experience thoughtfully toward the goal of communicating with others, in order to reveal previously invisible or obscured information, to generate new knowledge, to remember old knowledge. To make connections.

And I fail. Repeatedly.

So, why go on the walk at all? Why choose to look? If it will always fail, just as I am failing right now to explain these limitations, why do we do it? Why do we try? To quote the roller skating child again: but mom, what is the point in all of this?

We continue despite this question and possibly because of this question and because I tend to identify as an artist or maker, I think of this activity: this activity of trying (to roller skate, to describe, to communicate, to walk…) like we might think of the artist’s studio: the site inside of which someone elects to make things. It is the place for making.

A long time ago, I decided that for me the studio was always changing and it meant many things but at its core was a certain order of events that conjured its existence. In typical terms, the studio is distinguished by place. Very simply, we find four walls that are of a suitable dimension to make the things, which we have decided to make. We enter that place. It is utilitarian. It has enough space, amenities, a wide enough door, ample storage, etc. This kind of space is perfect for many things. And of course I have and will use space in this way in order to fulfill certain creative desires but what likely supersedes this kind of site is what I have come to know as the self as studio. And included in that self is the mind, the body, the intellect, spirit, the will or agency, among many other millions of things we have yet to be made aware of.

Yes. The self is a site. However, unlike the material space we often picture when we think of the artist’s studio, the self has no edges. It bleeds. It leaks. It dies. Information moves in and out of it constantly and often the pace and content of this movement of information is beyond the control of the person (or the self). You cannot help but hear, see, sense as much as you may want to. And still you can elect to see, hear, sense specific things through your own agency or decisions. You can choose to pay attention. In turn, you can elect to express, share, pass along certain aspects of what occurs in your interior. You can make things.

The definitive quality of studio is actually the desire to move information from the interior (the self, the body, the mind) into the exterior so that it enters the interior of the other, of another, winding us together in an unending cycle. How exciting!

And so, to be made aware of something and then to amend that awareness with a desire to pass along the information signifies for me the process of making. Anywhere I find myself, regardless of the material location, if in that time and space there occurs an observation followed by a desire to communicate that observation, I have engaged in the most basic act of making: to try. And wherever that has occurred, that is the studio, whether it is within four walls, while sitting in the bath, fixing my tea, or trekking along the edge of the Pacific Ocean for fourteen miles, none of which may produce any actual evidence or documentation of their happening however cannot be denied of their existence. This great invisible ideal!

And we return again to the point. We rely here, at this end of this brief writing, on a question about why: what is the point in all of this? And humbly I admit, I do not really know but I am going to keep trying.