I made a request to the universe last year to attract more collaborations.
As a self employed person, doing everything solo all the time, or, as an artist, having to lead on projects, I found was getting tiring and, if I'm honest, a little dull.
Perhaps this is not the case for everyone.
turns out it was for me.
I recall something artist Wendy Houstoun said once about making solo work - how, when you work alone, eventually you become a victim of your own control.
This is a screen shot of me and Mairtin McNamara working together yesterday. We are running an in person workshop together on Re-Awakening Care & Touch soon and we're tending to the last details of the content before he visits from Belgium in a few weeks time.
There are still a few places left if you are interested.
It will be like it looks in this picture:
Easeful. Spacious. Fun.
The whole process has felt genuinely collaborative, evenly pitched, naturally forward moving and easily focussed on the participant's best experience.
I'm fortunate enough to be good at a lot of different things. I am good at things some people find difficult - and - as if by divine justice - I'm also severely rubbish at things many people find easy. The world doesn't feel built in a way that suits my odd kind of consciousness a lot of the time.
I'm eccentrically wired and I wonder if that's partially why i've historically gone it alone so often. It has often felt like the quickest way round.
Easier than having to explain myself.
But I'm pretty sure we're not all meant to be great at everything.I believe the world needs all the different colours and flavours of us all.
I've been thinking about the difference between being good at something and loving it. Also the difference between loving something and wanting to own it v/s loving something and wanting to keep it alive.
Capitalism sell us the lie that if we're good at something we owe it to ourselves and the needs of the market to contribute it. Which is nonsense.
If what I'm doing is leaving my nervous system shattered and depleted, then that is - surely - a dead economy.
For example - I'm an excellent massage therapist.
A lot of people wish I would continue with it.
I could (and have) made a lot of money out of it.
It is a good, healing influence in the world.
Yet - I am 100% done.
And the capitalist mind trick of the debt economy, tricks us into thinking if I am not outputting and achieving to the very edge of my capacity, then I am - at best - not pulling my weight, not trying hard enough - or at worst, barely justifying my right to exist. This is a frame work that has haunted me in the past.
What a monumental sack of nonsense.
The idea that hard work IN IT'S OWN RIGHT is somehow virtuous is one of the greatest tricks the devil ever played. It keeps us tethered to work we feel ambivalent about (or hate) way beyond its use by date. It keeps us tethered to systems and networks who's values are often horribly misaligned with our own.
Most of us have been steeped in this belief system from very early on and come from a long line of people for whom the idea of hard work is conflated with notions of goodness. That a self might be able to operate as some kind of 'happy' machine, untethered from prioritising a well nourished nervous system is a false economy.
Surely with out a well nourished nervous system, there is no sustainable anything.
Only extraction, exploitation and injury?
So along with all this holding and supporting I'm doing for others, where am I allowing myself to be held in return and how am I sharing the load? How do I create an ecology where I am not simply outputting all the time, but am also sharing my weight, being with and alongside and participating in the being-ness of things? How can I do it in a way that feels sustainable?
Related to all this - about 5 years ago I made a promise to myself to stop working with arseholes.
Turns out it wasn't that easy.
A bit of back story -
A therapist had once said to me - 'you know Rachel, how might it be to accept that some people are just arseholes?'.
I couldn'tt conceive of such a thing.
I just did not want to accept it:
People are inherently good and we need to believe in that, don't we?
It was a world view I was very invested in.
Well this one statement took me nearly 10 years to sift through - to identify the good medicine in it, specifically for me.
I had been so determined to see the good in people, I was letting myself be exploited.
I was refusing to see what was in plain sight.
I was not dealing with reality.
Everyone might have goodness at their core, yes - but it doesn't mean that everyone is capable of operating from that place in their daily life. (Likely because underneath it all we feel unsafe, of course), What ever the reason, arseholery in another is not mine to fix, heal or even necessarily stay next to if i don't want to.
That was a slow learning.
So not working with arseholes was a good intention, but it took me years to work out how to do it - or what that even meant exactly.
Many were hiding in plain sight. Some even making the same noises and gestures that kind people make. Hehe.
It took a while.
The coast is mostly clear of them now.
Learning to collaborate has been a slow learning for me and it continues. But it is an indication of how far I've come that I can identify what is working now.
I'm inviting in people now with whom it feels -
Generous and playful in spirit. It's fun.
There is trust and we have each other's backs.
There are shared values.
We can bring challenges and the system is evolved by it.
There is no dominating, colonising or extracting.
There is space for both (all) our needs to be met.
We aren't trying to be the same as each other.
The work feels like a living thing.
Part of the discipline is about self care and tending to our lives around the work.
Working like this with people I love and trust has taught me a deeper cut of how to hold people I'm supporting, hold myself and be in deep service simultaneously... when to let go, how to trust what is emergent, when what I'm feeling is a YES. Then to honour my 'maybe' with some space and curiosity until I have got really clear on it. To be relaxed in the discomfort of not knowing.
How about you?
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I've been doing a brilliant BRILLIANT online workshop series with writer, vocalist, sacred scholar and activist, Amber McZeal called De-Colonial Somatic Approaches. It means staying awake between midnight and 3am UK time. My eyes are always closing by the end, but EVERY TIME i am so nourished by the encounter, it is totally TOTALLY worth it. Amber is such a penetrating intelligence, draws on so many levels of sacred wisdom and has such a vast, seeing heart that i need to re-listen to the sessions several times to metabolise it all. I am changed from every session. *
In the most recent workshop - Biophilia and Value Formation, we were exploring what brings us big joy (EROS) and where that meets a deep need in the world (PSYCHE) and how that might orient us in life.
This is the enquiry that is sitting behind my desire to explore this topic today.
What if - as we begin to allow ourselves to follow big joy (aliveness) in ourselves, we get intimate enough with it to identify it?
Let's call that step one.
Then in coming to meet the needs of the world, if we encounter another who is burning with the same kind of joy and yearning to meet a similar need in the world, we might recognise it because we have first recognised it in ourselves.
Perhaps right there might be the hint of what a good collaboration might look like.
Trust yourself to know it when you feel it.
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*if you feel drawn to work with Amber, the final workshop in her most recent series: Decolonial Somatic Approaches: Futurity & Radical Imaginings is happening on the 4th May 4pm - 7pm PDT (midnight - 3am BST). You can sign up for that here.
Maybe see you there.
writings on states of being, being in a body and being human.