Friday, January 23, 2009

foi response from Tahni Holt (OR)

As a participating performer in Freedom of Information 2008 from Oregon I entered into FOI08 thinking of it as a response, a response to many things. A response to the wars, the displacement, a response to the impossibility of knowing how to respond to these things. What I found in FOI08 was a deep personal, collective practice of compassion. I think we all know the difference between suffering at the hands of things one cannot control (at least we can understand the difference on a logical level) and suffering by choice.
I think Miguel explains a lot when he said: "I am, for better or worse, a dancer, and so my reactions to things often stem from a value system that is about what happens to bodies and what they feel." We all have different ways of making sense of the world and how to try and make sense of the things that have no sense. Freedom of Information 2008 was an individual and collective (31 people in all) response, as a dancer, to those things that 1. make no sense and 2. are much larger than ourselves. There are many different ways to respond to things. Some will feel more direct while others will feel indirect.
As a performer it is my job to create things that words cannot express. Words cannot express the hallucinations that happen from lack of sleep for 30 + hours or how shapes of rooms become non-shapes in solitary blackness. Words cannot express the space where there is no room for a literal translation. Words cannot express how dancing a love dance feels or how feeling a friends hand on your shoulder feels after 18 hours of darkness.
For me this was not a this or the other. I respond this way and therefore I have no room to respond in a different way. No, it is more about how do I create more room, more capacity in myself to feel things and engage in things that are way beyond my comfort zone, my value system of right and wrongs. This is the power that I as an individual have. And I have the power, as we all do, to share that as best I can with others. What they do with that information is up to them.
During the last four hours of this event I started to turn on myself and those that were caring for me. I started to think things like everyone had left the room (thinking I was going to collapse). Everyone and everything went against me. I hung on the wall, the only real support I could find. I believed in this myth, this unreality with all my heart. It was only afterward, only after I awoke from this dark place, when everyone around me proved how unreal those last four hours were when I was able to suddenly and irrevocably forgive someone in my life for committing suicide three weeks before. I did not know I needed to forgive them. But what I learned was people go into dark places and in that place what feels completely, utterly true at one moment isn't always the truth.
Sometimes Freedom of Information 2008 held many things, but mostly it reassured me how complex suffering can be. There is no easy right and wrong. We all know there is no easy answer to the wars that continue on all around us. Through Freedom of Information 2008 I woke up, remembered, held space for, and ignited the thing that makes me like everyone else. Compassion is my weapon. This is what unites me to you and you to me. Sometimes this feels like enough and at other moments it can never possibly be.

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