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I lived in Italy for seven years while running the Art Monastery. While there, I spent a lot of time getting lost and, as a result, a lot of time asking for directions. My experience was that Italians will always give you directions (whether or not they actually know where you want to go), but they won't tell you how to get all the way there. They will only give you the next step.
"Keep going this way until you come to big bend with the row of Cypress trees. Then ask Giovanni who lives in the house there."
But where do I go after the Cypress trees?
"Just ask Giovanni."
And then Giovanni says "Ah yes! Continue that way and turn left at the intersection and then there's a bar and Alessandra is always there. Talk to her."
And on and on like that. One step at a time, sometimes quite short distances. I always got where I was going (eventually) and made many acquaintances along the way.
My muse gives directions like an Italian.
Let me give an example.
My first year in grad school, I was struggling. I would come up with an idea for a painting or drawing or video and then attempt to manifest it. Every time it fell flat. Over and over the work was trite. Or stiff. Or just lacked life. I wanted so much to make work with depth & meaning but time after time my work was failing.
Meanwhile, I was having visions of lying on the bottom of an outdoor pool, looking up at the sunlight coming down through the surface. I repeatedly put the image out of my mind because I couldn't answer the questions that accompanied the image: But what does that mean? What would that piece be about? Eventually I came up on a deadline and without any other ideas and time running short, I strapped an underwater camera to my forehead and leapt into a pool.
What I discovered in the process was that first of all, I could lie on the bottom of the pool and gaze up at light all day long. (Especially since I was a synchronized swimmer for so long (see video below), my lungs were prepared for it!) One shot led to another, and another. And then when I sat down to edit the footage, I discovered that the sound was a fascinating element I hadn't even considered. How could I have known that before I tried it?
[Side note: Here's a video of me doing synchronized swimming with my sister.]
My point is that the muse—or at least my muse—gives directions like an Italian. I don't get to know where the piece is going or what it is even about until I'm neck deep in the process. And trying to know what it is all about ahead of time (ahem, wanting to be in control of the whole thing before it happens) cuts the legs out from under the whole piece.
So over the years I have arduously attempted (sometimes more successfully than others) to trust my muse, trust my intuition, and allow for the wisdom in not-knowing.
It's like that with this new name, Suiko. Why would I go through the trouble of changing my name, especially if it's hard for my mom and takes so much time & effort? Because there is something in this name that calls me. There is something numinous in it. And when I take a step—even a small one—toward that call, there is something in my being that lights up.
All this is to say that it's official: my name is Suiko and I've lined up all my online names:
By the way, Suiko means light on water.
In honor of the name, I made this video the day after the ceremony.
May it be a moment of respite for you as we head into what is usually for me the busiest time of year.
May it erode the walls of patriarchy.
May it be a song that honors the intuitive, the unexplainable, the mysterious lights within each of us.
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