I am currently in collaboration with LOAM magazine over the next month as an artist- in- resident. The article below was written for and originally published by LOAM
Can we learn to respond to the mounting violence in our time with soul- honoring and life- giving ways of being in the world? Much depends on the answer.
- Parker J. Palmer
In the face of social, environmental and political unrest, Parker J. Palmer’s words have become my compass of compassion and grounding. While thinking about what I wanted to offer to the LOAM community, I referred again and again to the feeling that these works evoke within my being. “Somehow, through it all, there could be a way to exist within the chaos,” they seem to be whispering. This idea, that I could feel whole while living within so much fragmentation seems far-flung and nearly impossible. I decided that for my artist-in-residency I wanted to explore deeper into this contradiction.
Most days people refer to me as an activist or an environmentalist. I like to call myself an educator on earth stewardship. My personal life is as much my work as my work is personal, as I am always seeking to live into what it means for me to be an active steward. For most of my work and projects I am asked to take in an incredible amount of media. This media more often than not comes in through screens and sometimes through radio or actual printed publications. I love my work and the relationships that have been built through these spaces, but staying updated on all that is going wrong in the world often leaves me depleted. I think many of you out there might feel similar. We live in an age of unbelievable connectivity and at our fingertips lay an endless string of ways to get involved amidst the devastation. As Kate Weiner of LOAM writes, “There is a tremendous pressure within the mainstream climate movement to work yourself to the bone. I've written before about how the pressure to perpetually act conforms to the same capitalist measures of productivity that so many of us are fighting against. But it can be difficult to bring it on home— to believe that it is not only nourishing but also necessary to provide pauses in our day; to trust that sitting some things out can create the space for beautiful things to bloom; and to know that rethinking our everyday actions can be as healing to the world as advocating for broad policy change.” This is the space from which I wish to share and offer an invitation, and LOAM as a publication is the perfect place to offer from. Here, the concept of sustainability is understood as more than just an outward application. Sustainability must first and foremost begin from within if we are to talk about this being the work of our lives. And so I ask myself, “What will be the soul quenching practice of pause that will nurture me for the long- haul?”
The times are urgent; let us slow down.
- Bayo Akomolafe
Pause Within the Chaos is an art project that works with imbuing prayer and ritual into everyday life. Inspired by Asumund Seip’s book, 100 Days for the Earth, which explores 100 days of writing to the places we hold dear, Pause Within the Chaos, will channel this same exercise of dialogue with the earth as a daily practice of active prayer. The practice will follow three steps, which I’ve outlined below.
1. In-taking media: This project is orientated around finding new ways of working with taking in and digesting media. The daily ritual of listening to or reading the news will remain a crucial part of this process.
2. Giving pause: Often I let incredibly dense news wash through me unconsciously. I realized that an important piece to keeping my own sanity is to create moments of pause after learning about something particularly maddening or upsetting. Often it is only a few minutes, but those moments allow me to build the capacity in myself to hold this new information. I noticed that when I fall into the unconscious space of letting news hit me, while say I am preparing and/or eating food, that my body’s ability to even digest is limited. Giving pause is a part of how I integrate.
3. A breath & a prayer: From this place of pause, small earth prayers will then be made from natural materials like sticks, rocks and petals. The idea is not to illustrate the media but to find a way to work with creating a healthy cycle of inhalation and exhalation; Inhale media, exhale a tangible prayer of grace. While facing “the mounting violence in our time” I feel dedicated to finding a new response to that reminds me of my own humanity.
Simplicity is key to this project. Like many of you, my life is full, and I am often looking for practices that can be easily incorporated into my routine. This project is also an invitation into a conversation with each of you. Perhaps you work with a practice that proves to be sufficient in holding space for the pain of the world, or maybe you are seeking one. Over the coming month, I would like to support a dialogue around what feels enriching, nourishing and soul- giving for you during these wild times. I am also curious how can we begin to become even more creative when thinking about ways to bridge our personal lives and the work of our lives. Your thoughts are eagerly welcomed as we continue to recognize and harness the power of our collective minds.
In Deep Gratitude,
- LOAM is an environmental arts magazine dedicated to promoting the work of pioneering individuals and organizations in the realm of sustainability. We see creativity and sustainability as symbiotic. -