“Let yourself be living poetry” /Rumi/
As I write this, I am watching a bird fly amongst the clouds forming a circular dance in the air. It is alternately gliding and fluttering, enjoying its freedom and forgetting itself in the never-ending expanse of sky that is its world. Soon, it drifts down to a tree, where it lands on one of its towering branches, and it does this all in one graceful movement, as if there were no division between sky and tree. It lingers for a moment or two, observes the earth beneath it, which is also its world, then, responding to some call within, it deepens its breath and takes off once again into the infinite blue stillness. Birds are messengers between heaven and earth. So, a bird’s flight is an invocation.
In many ways, I feel like a bird, my soul, periodically, soaring amongst stars, moon and suns in imagination’s sky, only to return, time and again, to Mother Earth, from whose rich, fertile womb I was born. The generous fruits of the earth nourish me and her ways educate me, but like a bird, what is wild in me longs to feel the wind’s breath flow through my cells and fly on adventure to other dimensions. I think, as human beings, we live between these two worlds. But, our dual nature may cause us conflict, whereas, a bird is in harmony with itself, for it has a sense of belonging.
I came to Europe from the U.S., first to France, then to the U.K., in search of my roots, as I am of European origin- Italian, Polish, French and German. But, more importantly, I felt a need to belong somewhere. I am in the performing arts, as a singer, actress, and in the visual arts, as a painter, sculptor. The arts have been my vocation, never going into it for the money, but for the needs of my soul. New York City, certainly, wasn’t an easy place to make a living in the arts. Though I performed in operas, off-broadway musicals and cabarets, I still had to work in shops, restaurants, etc., in order to make ends meet. New York is a great city, but very competitive and tough, so life can be very much about survival. Therefore, I left New York and journeyed to Paris, hoping to live there, with $200 and a suitcase full of costumes and dreams. How beautiful Paris was and I very much adored it. However, you never know where life is going to take you. On a visit to London, I met my husband, a British actor, writer and director, and we formed a small theatre company, for which I co-wrote scripts and made puppets. Europe, particularly the U.K. is a kinder place to live.
But, as it is for most people, there were times when the struggle of life tears at your heart and challenges your strength. In London, I had a car accident. Walking with my husband, a car drove onto the pavement and knocked me down. What ensued was the pain of physical injury for me, as well as anxiety and insecurity for us both. Fortunately, this event sparked me to explore further inside myself and I became a seeker of ultimate truth and wisdom. Though my life as a performer became limited, my dreams took flight in painting. Thus, sometimes, out of dark times, a light emerges, just as a flower is born from the darkness of the earth.
When Fanni asked me to take part in her excellent project, I thought, now, this is a person who is also in search of the truth. She asks difficult questions about diversity and beauty. Questions we all may not have the answers to, but cause us to think. Thank you, Fanni, for the opportunity to participate.
What is beauty and how do we perceive it? Much of the time, we perceive it from society’s dictates and trends. When we follow this way, we do not think for ourselves. We just go along with the status quo and follow it till it becomes our belief and conform ourselves to its dogma requiring us to “fit in!” We begin to identify with it and become competitive and judgemental, whether about ourselves or others and then wonder why we are anxious, depressed and fearful to think otherwise.
Beauty is not so much in the eye of the beholder, but is a presence, who reveals herself when and where she desires. Fanni’s creations take into account the uniqueness of the individual, celebrating difference instead of trying to homogenise it. Each of us has a unique voice and story. Far from separating us, different voices unite us in one great cosmic song. When we understand this, then Beauty shines through and reveals herself to us. She emanates that which is spiritual through our humanity, for we are not just physical beings.
What I think I was and am in search of, as I think we all are, is a way to express and expand myself, to push through my limitations, not with material possessions or what one might think of as ego, but with the essence of life; to preserve what is wild within me and welcome the unexpected, so as not to enclose myself in the cage of limited perceptions. We all truly long to feel alive. Unfortunately, we have, perhaps, become too obsessed with differences, to the point where we see the other as enemy and become very suspicious whether it be about man or woman, black or white, Muslim or Christian, gay or straight, life or death. Some say you can never be too rich or too thin; we are so fearful to grow and look older, and we can’t even begin to contemplate death. We perceive some things as good and some things as bad and attempt to achieve an unnatural perfection, as we are excluding and rejecting parts of who we are. Under the cruel eye of a telescopic criticism, we dissect ourselves into not seeing the whole of ourselves. Reductionist thinking breeds fear, anger, hatred and prejudice and an avoidance of life instead of a passion for it. In medicine, it separates body and soul, and so removes us from all that sustains us, including nature, herself. After all, how could we ever see the day, if we had never known the night.
None of us is perfect. Hidden in our imperfections and vulnerability is compassion. When the heart grows, we realise how much we need and help each other. We mustn’t view this planet as well as the whole universe as a frightening place inhabited by nothing but dangers and demons to slay or escape from. Bonding with the earth makes us feel at home and we should nurture and protect it, spread our spirit of joy over it, and see life as a gift not a tragedy. We must open up our hearts to the magnificence of the universe, so it can embrace us and fill us with wonder and inspiration. Imagination, to me, is the key to creating possibilities instead of limits. Not the kind of imagination one thinks of as fantasy, but the true imagination, the single all-encompassing compassionate eye, whose clarity of vision opens our two eyes to universal wisdom.
I hope to benefit and help heal our world with my work in the arts. My husband and I live in Nottingham now, and though we no longer have a theatre company, we are working on other projects that involve various genres, including film. Each of us, whichever field we are in, in our own unique ways, can be creative in our endeavours to make the world a wondrous place for all to live in.
Through friendship and conversation, we can create a community, whose togetherness, like a tree’s roots, is rooted in the mysterious and divine source of creation, and whose aspirations, like branches, are forever reaching towards the light, so as to produce nourishing and delicious fruit. What a perfect environment in which to build nests!
I think what I am is a wanderer, one who has wings and feet, who seeks that which is divine within the landscape of my own heart. This is where I belong. And I am always at home because wherever I go, my heart goes with me.