Friday, March 13, 2009
This makes me happy
Watching this video filled my heart with such delight that it spilled out in tears. I am very grateful for this piece of sublime art. The emotions that sweep over me as i watch this are legion. I think of the grief and loss, the brutality and inhumanity of the recent attacks on Gaza and the hate and anger that continues to reverberate around the world in defense of Israel's actions and in compassion for the astonishing number of Palestinians killed. I think of Rwanda and the loss that will be borne for so many years and generations to come. I think of El Salvador and the refugees i visited in Honduras in the 80s and the wee girls who clapped and clapped for me when i did nothing more than walk into the slapped-together shack in which they sat crammed together shoulder-to-shoulder, each of them crocheting with an intensity that seems a gift of childhood. I think of the two men, one young and one old, the younger pushing the older in a wheel chair and both of them singing a Georgian folk song, those wonderful polyphonic dissonances bouncing off the walls of the oldest part of Tblisi. I think of the teenagers who were sent to me from around the world so i could tour them through Canadian schools and communities to tell their stories of loss and survival and resistance (and wonder where they are now). I think of the faces of the 500 undergrad students to whom i lecture weekly about environmentalism and i marvel at the extraordinary diversity of beauty of each of those faces, each of them so entirely perfect and each holding such promise - so many lives of joy and sorrow to be lived in this century. I have witnessed war and its terrible consequences. I have placed my body between the innocent and the bullet and i am lucky still to live to tell the stories that i have been privileged and tasked to bear. My heart breaks daily for all the pain of which we are capable of inflicting on each other. And then my eye is caught by a child's smile (of which i am seeing so many these days - may his life be long and filled with wonder); or i gaze upon one of Van Gogh's haystacks from Arles (thank you Carey for that unforgettable gift); or i listen to the last compositions of the recently departed fiddler Oliver Schroer (treat yourself to Hymns and Hers); or i feel the touch of my beloved, friend for 20 years and now partner and wife; or i remember picking blackberries with a friend on a west coast island on a hot late summer afternoon (the pie that night was sublime). And then one of the students in my popular education class sends me this video link and all the wonder of the world bursts from my heart (thank-you, Dave). We humans are capable of such horror and such beauty and, of course, love (about which Anne Carson so playfully meditates in Eros the Bittersweet). We are such sad clowns, Grimaldi and Emmet Kelly and Carol Burnett's frumpy washerwoman (whom my mother loved). And we are also this clown, Matt, who danced badly in so many places around the world. It is sublime nonsense. And it fills my heart with joy. Though the bittersweet is never far behind.