Monday, March 23, 2015

Comedy. Tragedy.

The eclipse on Friday was quite wonderful. I haven’t seen one since I was a kid, and usually our celestial displays in Ireland are covered by cloud soup. It was magical, but as the circle of the moon was outlined by a thin ring of sun, I couldn’t help feel a pang of sadness. Me, a tiny human, spinning on this lovely spherical rock, hanging in infinite space, while all these processes go on – unknown, unseen, uncontrolled by the ‘all powerful’ humans we think we are. I felt very small and insignificant, in the best possible way – there’s nothing like a celestial display to give you some perspective. I am so lucky, I really am. While I was out staring at the sun, hundreds of thousands of people across the globe were doing things like surviving, no more interested in what was going on up in the sky than our dear President is about sorting out this water business…

The Right2Water march was on Saturday in Dublin, and after an enjoyable bus journey with my comrades, the sun came out and with it, the heat. People from all across the country, from all walks of life, converged on Dublin. We started at Heuston Station, and as we made our way to O’Connell street others joined us from side streets and communities, complete with banners waving and slogans singing. The solidarity, the atmosphere, the connection, the sense of purpose, the sense of occasion, the goodness, the cheers when more joined, the applause when the Greek Solidarity crowed linked up with us…it made me proud to be human, to be a citizen of the world, to be there, to be present, to be right where I was meant to be…

When we got to O’Connell Street, there were several large screens along the middle island with speakers. There were speeches and spoken word pieces. They started off proceedings with this, which I have seen a couple of times already. Maybe it was the atmosphere or the sense of occasion, the music or the fact that is was being blasted in out nation's capital, but I found the piece quite moving. Injustice is something I have a massive problem with. It is something that I feel as a twist in my guts and a lump in my throat. Watching the piece, the injustice of everything, everything happening across the world was so palpable, I felt like Storm and Rogue and Phoenix all rolled into one. I could have created a thunderstorm, or set the street alight just with rage alone. Because it simply is not fair. But not only was I so enraged that you could have siphoned it off to power a city, a hollow sadness came over me – what is the point, what does it all mean, what does it all matter, how are we going to fix it, how did we get to this point in the first place, why are society’s most vulnerable always the ones to be victimized? ? ? ? ?

Once the crowd began to clear, something that never seems to take as long as you think it would; like the difference between hanging an exhibition of work and then taking it down - the set up always takes much MUCH longer.
So the crowd disappeared, like a flash mob, into shops and onto busses and side streets. We made our own way in the direction of the 79, only to come across the start of a sit down. Which I was so pleased about. When you are watching from a distance, real revolution, happening in America and across Europe, our own tame little walks down the quays looks well…weak. I know, I know what they say. There’s no need for it in a civilized country (which is a debatable point when you have 500 people waiting in hospital corridors and families being thrown out of their houses every week). But simply diverting traffic and ‘footfall’ into shops for 3 hours doesn’t really cut it for me. You do need a bit of an unexpected spectacle for morale, if nothing else. You can blame it on the fluoride in the water, the chemicals they spray over us from on high, or centuries of foreign oppression (which is still happening by the way, it’s just for-the-greater-good-Europe doing the oppressing now) but this nation is populated with very apathetic, beaten, blinkered, uninterested and jaded citizens. So to see a woman in her 50s stop a city bus, force it to reverse, and sit herself down was quite powerful. More joined her. People gathered on the corners, at the statue, all eyes and cameras focused and recording what happened next, just waiting for the guards to land and whip out the pepper spray (which they are using more and more). It was a very peaceful 45mins or so. Everyone just waiting. The atmosphere was rather calm I thought. The guards, seeing that all eyes were actually on them, just pottered about, trying to gently reason with the participants of the sit down. If I had been a free agent on Saturday, I would have sat down too (should have, would have, could have – word weapons we use on ourselves on a daily basis…next time). But I was present. I was blocking traffic. I was a witness. A human rights observer.

It’s quite moving to witness what people power can actually do. We are balls of electricity, energy, and we have such potential for positivity and good. We simply need to choose to tap into that reserve, instead of defaulting to the negative the whole time. We are our own worse enemies. We can, and do do, the most amazing things when they are done with love, with positivity, with good intentions, with goodness.

I spent Saturday evening handwriting my mantra cards for Independents Day. I left them to do Saturday night purposefully, because I knew I would need to do something practical and grounding after being high as a kite all day. It was lovely, sitting at Roisin’s kitchen table, with Bud checking up on me every so often, handwriting these little collection of different types of paper I’ve been hoarding for years. I had hand cut them with rounded corners while still in Mayo, but the rest I did in Inchicore.


Sunday morning I woke at my usual early bird time, to the sun streaming in through the back windows of the kitchen, and a sheltie sheepdog stealing the surplus duvet that had been living on the floor all night. I made tea and bananas on toast, grabbed Olaf Tyrarnsen’s The Consequences of Slaughtering Butterflies off the nearest bookshelf and sat out in the most glorious sun spot in the garden of Rois’ house. When the sun comes out you’d swear we were part of the continent, it is so glorious. I sat and soaked up the rays, and stretched and breathed and mentally prepared myself for whatever, absorbing the blue, creating vitamin D and smiling at Bud every few seconds – old dogs are lovely. I read all of Olaf’s poems, more on that in a bit – it will all make sense in a moment ! – and really enjoyed them. It was quite fitting, considering the weekend that was in it, and I would highly recommend.

Deer Jane appeared with tea and porridge and sitting down next to me we noticed that once again, we were on point: dark dress with bird print, check! sky blue nail polish, check! circular beads in matte colours necklace, check! hair up, double check! Load us up and take us to Independents Day !!!

Independents Day is held in the Dublin Food Co-Op. You enter through a sky blue door (I love it) which you could easily go past…we actually did. The Co-Op is one of those places I would be frequenting if I lived in Dublin. It’s quite grungy, earthy, do it yourself, real…something I think we need more of, need to be encouraging, need to be engaging in and embracing. I would love to pop in and see it in action when it’s doing it’s every day sort of vibe, I’d say it’s a lovely meeting place and great spot to pick up a few nice bits.
It took us about 0.05 seconds to spot the two heads from Splitting Borders (f.y.i prepare yourself for some unashamed fangirling in a second) and assess the lay of the land, it’s a lovely open space with super high ceilings, and a really airy feel, light just streams in from everywhere and there was a great buzz in the place.
YAY   S.P.L.I.T.T.I.N.G.  B.O.R.D.E.R.S.  these two, firstly, stop reading this right now and head over to their site because you’ll thank me, and I’ll be happy.

Fangirl section

Good, right, ok. This was my first time meeting Sadhbh and Gary, which doesn’t feel accurate because I felt that I already knew them, through their amazing work, and being sort of in touch with them over the last few months/since the last fair (time, what is it anyway?!). I can’t remember the last time I met such lovely people. They are the loveliest people. Lovely, supremely talented, genuine, down-to-mother-earth sort of people. But of course I knew that they would be, they would have to be in order to make the kind of work that they do.
Magical, sort of peepy work, that has it’s roots in truth, but spins it all it such a darkly humorous way that you feel that the world they create is real. I want to believe that it is real. It restores my faith in humanity, makes me smile, laugh out loud, taps into some deep emotional stuff, and always looks fresh and new no matter how often I look at it. I love it, can you tell?

They treated me to coffee, (the sweethearts) which seemed to be flown in from Kenya, and we chatted and admired each others work. The day itself was, I think a massive success. There was a steady flow of people all day, musicians playing, screenings and workshops going on all the time, and loads of really interesting folk.
Something really lovely happened to me actually. This dude picked up my business post card, looked at the name, and at me and sort of quizzically asked:

Are you ShelkyBean?
I follow you on Tumblr
:que me excitingly getting to my feet, and knocking over everything:
(I was extremely clumsy Sunday and actually banged my hand on the table so hard that I thought I broke it. I didn't, but I have bruised the bone...which seems to be a running theme at the moment)

This was SO nice. It’s so nice to know that there are people out there who I don’t know personally, who see my work and like it. They like it because they like it, not because they know me and have some misplaced allegiance, liking it because they feel they have to.
So that was special.
Him and Splitting Borders – my cup runneth the hell over.

Cap comes off to all involved in organizing and running the fair. I know it must take SO much work, but I think it’s really worth it. I mean, where else could I have brought papier mache bird rings, and be taken seriously?
And, it has put the taste for it back in my mouth. I think it’s one of those worlds that you kind of need to stay in once your in it. I hope I am able to do the next one, I have some plans…

Getting back to Olaf, one of the poems I read that morning was about his daily unrequited love affairs he had with women in the cafés he would be in, a different woman every time. They would drink coffee together, at a distance, he would love her from a distance, and she would leave, and no one got hurt. And it struck a real cord, but made even more sense to me this morning. I think the reason why these intense moments we have are so bittersweet is because you temporarily fall in love with the anarchy, the radicalness, the stallholders that you connect with, the one customer that gets it, the squatters that are being the change you want to see in the world (that you don’t ever actually see). And it’s a moment, a brief second in time that is so precious and magical and wonderful, that you love it. It engages that emotion that otherwise lies dormant as you carry on with your life. And the reason it is so intense and gorgeous is because it is a moment, and you know that that is all it is, because it’s not sustainable at that level for any longer. And that’s where the sadness comes in, because you go back to your life and try to keep the craic going, knowing that somewhere out there everyone else is doing the same.
And then you drive home, into the sunset, smiling and being grateful and happy and sad and fulfilled and inspired, and you drift in and out of sleep dozely aware of the beauty of all that has happened.

And then you wake to flashing ice blue lights and realize you are going past the most horrific car accident you have ever seen, which pulls into sharp focus all the events of the previous 48hours, and your whole life up until this point.
Or maybe that’s just me.

The sweet beauty of life can be over, or dramatically altered, in a split second. We are so fragile and vulnerable. It doesn’t seem fair that on top of just about surviving, we have to fight for our right to water. It seems silly and selfish to be a bit sad that Independents day is over. Like the eclipse, seeing a car accident puts everything into perspective. The message being, to live each day to the fullest (cliche I know, but true) because we just don't know what is going to happen next.

The juxtaposition of comedy and tragedy, you literally couldn’t make it up…


Gareth Gowran said...

Hey Shelky, great blog post, I really got a sense of the water march which is good because we couldn't be there!
Thanks so much for your beautiful words and unabashed fandom. I think I will print out that paragraph and pin it up on my wall.

Shelky Bean said...

I'm glad you got a sense of the protest. I thought it was important to document it.

^_^ aw, that's a nice thought. Do, print it out. It's always nice to have kind words surrounding one.