I don’t know if you have ever spent an amount of time in a place where you don’t speak the language. Everything -sounds, signs, words – are so fresh your brain has little to compare against. It takes weeks, months to even create a category system in which to file experiences. I lived in Germany for 24 months and barely knew how to say ‘Gutentag’ when I landed on day one. It was debilitating and overwhelming at first. I could have used a mentor for those two years. But I learned to ease into the discomfort and work my way a little more each day. Living in a foreign land is similar to being the new kid in town – when you don’t know anyone, or which store has the best selection, how to get to the most basic locations without using google maps. The grocery requires 3 times longer for translation and simple things such as prices, oven temps, and forecasts require MATH. Just as when you move to a new area, as you venture out during the beginning months, even years, you make an assumption that you will never just bump into a familiar face. Living in a foreign location is similar to that, but additionally, you accept the fact that you will never even understand others conversations. It is oddly peaceful. Sitting on the bus you don’t have to make an effort to focus on a book or silently meditate. The conversations around become like white noise. You can really get lost in the thoughts in your own head. It is almost addictive in its simplicity – like living as the fly on the wall or a wispy ghost no one sees. But it is a habit like any. You become used to it. And when you return to your home country, the noise can be overwhelming at first. Suddenly everything is screaming, whether it is the selection of laundry detergent on the shelf with so many more options, to the conversations at nearby tables, living outside the tedium of the world is a strange luxury many will go their entire lifetime never experiencing.
Clicking back into an interactive community may have a couple of hiccups, however, soon, you forget you ever lived in such a strange spot, where ‘normal’ remained foreign with a fuzzy familiarity that hadn’t actually ever crossed into mundane. I miss that. I will always miss that. I love that life and communication are easy.. everything about living in Germany was hard. But I still miss looking around in awe as if waking in a dream for 24 months straight.
For the past 4 years I have simulated the silence of coexistence. I moved to my new ‘forever home’ in Texas and created my art barn. It has been my chosen retreat for all things work, art. It is peaceful. I have removed the element of confusion and distraction by blocking outside ‘noises’. I had turned off the soul-sucking need to compare myself to others. I had accepted my safe space and allowed myself to test all types of media – whatever pops into my head. But most importantly, I protected myself from the unwarranted snide comments that landed on my doorstep, unannounced, that discouraged me on my path to betterment. And it paid off. The hardest thing in art is to believe in everything you put in your piece. If you can’t explain why you did what you did, then you must take a step back and self reflect. To me, this is akin to creating my own language. It is the foundation of my communication with the outside world. Doubt is detrimental to expression. And when others decide to place useless doubt into your head – well, it is perfectly reasonable to put their voices on MUTE. Julia Cameron refers to this as ‘artist abuse’ and I could not agree with her more emphatically.
It is also important to know when it is time to emerge. For me, that time is NOW. I have had the most productive 4 years in my entire life. I have created hundreds of paintings, hundreds of sculptures, hundreds of studies. My own alphabet of poetry, photography, painting, and sculpture speak my truth, my experience. I am ready to fly into the world as a butterfly and share my work.
So this is officially my new start. I officially speak fluent PRB.