“we are surrounded by communities based on the practice of “setting each other straight”–an ultimate totalitarian practice bound to drive the shy (or hurting) soul into hiding…communal processes…supportive but not invasive. they probe questions and possibilities but forbid us rendering judgement…the key to this form of community involves holding a paradox…we must come together in ways that respect solitude of soul, avoid the unconscious violence we do when we try to save each other, that evoke our capacity to hold another life without dishonoring it’s mystery, never trying to coerce the other into meeting our own needs. it is possible for people to be together that way, though it may be hard to see evidence of that fact in everyday life. … my evidence comes in part from my journey… from healing I experienced as a few people found ways to be present to me without violating my soul’s integrity. because they were not be driven by their own fears, the fears that lead us either to “fix” or abandon each other, they provided me a lifeline to the human race.”
i find the parallels of personal/spiritual journey with my teaching practices and trends in collegiate art foundation programs, interesting. the kind of community (the one that is not propelled by fear in which fixing and abandoning dominant) above is the kind I want to be a part of, as well as the very thing I attempt to cultivate in my studio classes (art). it reminds me of what I hoped for with my chapelwood girls a decade plus ago (I think they’ve carried it into their futures of today when I see them interact still with one another), it is what I hope, experience and continue to longingly grow with my grand girlfriends and my Thursday morning “bestest” of girlfriends of 17+ years.
if I try to “fix,” if I abandon, I leave an emanating wave behind me of unconscious, unintended, violence that propagates forward into lived behaviors, backwards into distortions of memories and histories, inward into the wounds of heart and mind. we each have stood or are standing on both sides of fixing and abandoning, to think not, is to live in blindness.
fixing or abandoning students is equally destructive in both life and the classroom. it is actually a difficult practice to make a space for real listening (which, in my mind, is the connective tissue of community) were one neither fixes, saves or abandons. i simply cannot fix or save another. i certainly may try to both of our detriment. abandonment is even easier. how many times have i caught myself mentally drifting when a certain student is talking on and on to me? i abandon that student each time i do not redirect my attention to actually pay attention to them. yet each time i open myself to really listen, healthy/good things happen. the more i listen, the more the other lays down drowning mechanisms developed in the wanting to be seen. many times i have feared that if a listen, i will be sucked into a needy little world. yet a safe space is created for that student to connect and springboard forward from. with each listening, I’ve noticed the students begin to listen to themselves. in the short run it is hard work, I find focus difficult. it takes students a while before they realize they are heard and seen. at that moment, I have witnessed them to begin reciprocating and listening more to their peers. it is amazing and unpredictable what comes from being seen and heard.0