Photo: Zippo Zimmermann

Freedom // Fear part I

I am afraid.
Fear fills me to the brim. I almost choke on it. It pours out of my nostrils, obstructs my ears, fills my mouth with foul tasting saliva. A cage of smells forms around my head, I cannot move.

My imagination is halted to a stale emptiness. Nothing stirs, nothing makes a sound.
I wish for something to free me from this acid state, I wish for something to end me, or to set me free: soaring the high skies of possibility again.

I was free.
I was the reluctant angel of the gardens of Eden. I lived in paradise as long as I did not know…
Every crayon, every pencil, every brush obeyed my ceaseless will. Forms and colours would follow my thoughts, one canvas after another would fill itself with the beauty that I knew to be contained in this garden I lived in. I made rainbows, unicorns, waterfalls and rosebushes. I made herds and lone-wolfs, I made sprouts and fall foliage. I made seasons and clouds. I was the creator.
I was a child.

Then there was temptation and there was suffering.
Temptation to reach beyond what was within my reach.
Paintings piled up. Layers and layers of obsession over obsession. All that I saw in the world was conceived to be an extension of my best ability, my imagination, my creativity. I could make it all. I had made it all. I could make the earth and seas, pure and fertile. I could make men and women, love, offspring. All would be good, contented, at ease, mine.
None of it was true.
I awoke to the knowledge that obsession is blind. That the world did not even notice my two hands which I believed to hold such great power. That my creativity was a mere speck of dust in the vast mud-stream that ran right through my beloved Eden. That my hands were dust-covered, determined and fallible. If I had made it all, I had made pollution, erosion, ecocide. If it was me who made men and women it was also me who banned all those that did not fit those two words. I made miscarriages, exclusion, oriëntalism, gender-judgment, genocide, war, indoctrination and self-punishment. I had made lies and reasons for lying.
I suffered from the idea that all of it was my doing. I suffered from the idea that none of it was. I suffered from the idea that nothing I did would ever be enough to alter it.
I suffered and I knew it was good.

Some days my suffering was containable.
Those days I would suffer new things into existence. I would suffer in a tangible way, thick gooey sirup-like suffering. I would make that suffering stick, make it take shape, pour it into a painting, a poem, a sculpture or a film. It has been said that suffering is the source of all poetry; of any art. Any expression that involves authentic creation. Without suffering there would be no need to to sing jubilee over happiness and joy. Suffering provides the backdrop for all beauty. Without it, everything would be one grey mass of existence; apathy. Suffering shows me the worth of all the other things. Suffering tells me coffee is good. It tells me chocolate won’t help. It tells me workout will make me tired and working will make me stay. It tells me sloth will make me miserable beyond my suffering and discipline will get the work done. Not that it really matters, for suffering is the only constant in the universe. The one thing all creatures share. The one thing there is never a lack of. Everything else is fleeting.
The poor suffer over lack of money. The hungry suffer over lack of food. The thirsty suffer over dehydration and a want for whisky. The drunk suffer over a lack of control when they can no longer hold their glass, otherwise they’re the lucky ones. The insecure suffer over a lack of personality. The confused suffer over a lack of identity. The oppressed suffer over a lack of freedom and the oppressor suffers over a lack of ways to oppress those who have found the will to freedom. The rich suffer over a minute loss of money. Suffering always comes round. We can recognise a solidified form of suffering because we all know suffering. We celebrate high art for its immense amount of suffering, we call it spiritual, exalted, visionary. Many might follow this or that particular way of suffering. Many might not suffer so alone for having found a common suffering. I cannot follow any form of suffering any longer. I have lost all other ways of suffering now that I have found my own way to suffer myself into existence. All must suffer, be it in their own fashion, be it in someone else’s.
The only ones that no longer suffer are the ones who have nothing left to lose. No house, no love, no coffee-cups and and water-filters. No turpentine-filled nostrils, no plastered walls, no wood-panelled floors. No thingly things that keep us in our place. No liabilities, no loseabilities, no fearabilities.
Those have become unafraid.
Those have become free.

A wasp bangs itself ferociously against the window of my room. It sees the future on the other side of the glass. It stings the glass again and again with its venomous behind. It wishes to rid itself of that incomprehensible thing which separates it from his future. The wasp suffers and soon will die in my windowsill. There is no good or bad, there is only suffering.

When I have suffered far enough, I will have lost all I will have had to lose. Money will have lost its appeal. The kink of sex will no longer thrill me as a substitute for love. New clothes will not fit me. New cars will not drive me. Big houses will not be a home to me. More followers will not like me. And I will no longer want for more confirmation. I will be sober, simple, satisfied.
When I have lost, all the world will once again be my Eden. I will walk freely through the suffering for it will not frighten me. It will be all that is real. It will have been mine but I will have shed that skin, just as I have shed the skin of fear. It is only skin that fear can latch onto. It has no grip on our souls or minds when we have no skins. Without skins we are mud. You may look me in the eye and tell me all you see, for I will have become a question to myself. Fearlessness is a constant reinvention of ourself. Like mud we change our shape.
Your judgment will not reach me, for before it does I will already have changed into something I was not, not yet, nor will ever be again. I will be an earthworm and I will not swim, but I will become a spider and I will not crawl. I will be a daffodil and I will sway in the wind, but I will become a tangerine and will fear being eaten until my peal comes off.
I will embrace being eaten for I will become your saliva, your muscle contractions, your thoughts and your neuron-firing. I will become the mud again.
We can change because we have suffered. We can change because we have lost what keeps us constant.
Because we have suffered and knew it was good. All learning is suffering. All suffering is learning. Like the man said: All suffering is a universe.

I remain afraid.
As long as I have not yet lost I will remain afraid. Afraid of those who are afraid for they are capable of monstrosities. Monstrosities to save their skins. To save the skins that fear needs to latch onto. The skins they need to tell those they fear that they are different. The skins they need to hide in from their fellow fearful humans. The skins we need to keep ourselves constant. Our bunkers of skin keep us afraid and the fear is something we know. It is known and therefore it is safe. We are safe in our skins as long as we can keep clear of those whom we cannot control, those without skins, those without fears, those who reinvent themselves at every turn off the page. Those who become fluid; raindrops on our skin, puddles of infected water, shards of glass that puncture the soles of our feet, mud.
We will suffer in our skins.
We will suffer in our skins until we have learned enough. Until we have learned enough to laugh at our ridiculous attempts to be safe, to be ensured, insured, guaranteed and proven.
We will push a pile of money out in front of us. Turn it into barricades, guard-towers and trenches. We will build fences around our skins for we are afraid of the change.
I remain afraid for I know not how to reinvent myself in a world I do not know or control.

Give up the control.
Spit on the ground and call it art. Spit on the stove and call it a restaurant. Spit on the mirror and call it a self-portrait. Spit on a shoe and call it design. Spit on a piece of paper and call it a contract. Spit in the face of someone else and know it is an insult. Become spit and know it is a change.
Give up the control.
Make what you know not how to. Fuck it up and call it art. Fuck it and call it a performance. Cast it in plaster and fuck it up again. Call it recycling.
Give up the control.
Be stupid and see where it get’s you. Be stupid and call it art.
Make art and call it stupid. There is no difference between words. The sensical and the nonsensical have only a three-letter difference. They have a non-difference.

This is recycling.
I fear originality for it evokes judgment. I recycle history, art history. I spit on it, wipe it out with my sleeve until it shines and I call it mine.
Recycling makes it mine.
What’s mine is safe.
What is mine will not judge me. What is mine will not belittle me. What is mine will not trample my tender feelings. What is mine will be there for me without a moments hesitance. What is mine will obey my will with ceaseless joy. What is mine will warn me for danger, keep me warm, invite only good company, pay my taxes and my bills. What is mine will keep me safe.

Safe from what?
Whom do we entrust with the burden of deciding what constitutes danger?
Poor countries are dangerous, but people with expensive cars are safe. Odd shaped vegetables are dangerous, but colourants are safe. Faith is dangerous, but science is safe.
Weed is dangerous, but alcohol is safe. Flying is dangerous but crossing the street is safe. Anxiety is dangerous, but arrogance is safe. Whom do we entrust the power to decide over our safety?
Give up the control or wait until you will lose it anyways.
There is no way around the mud-stream that runs through your imagined Eden. There are no bridges and no boats.
Dive into that vast suffering, breath it, be it, eat it, snort it, and puke it out. Call it art if you must.

Be what you fear you must be.