Nicolas Henderson CC
"Building community and nurturing your creativity is how you make a world where you can handle the pain of living, and the losses that must come, without having to take others down with you."
An emotional storm is always brewing in us. I tell you, it is two people meeting. What will come of it, a funeral or a birth? Every place I've ever been has a cold spot in the room. How do I fill it with my warmth? How do I gather in those who, like me, feel so scattered - like out of place artifacts in an emotional museum? The most important things start real small. We all want to be seen, heard, felt, received and believed. But who will truly let us in? Will it be safe to breathe in that room? Can we trust that our story, and their story, will speak into, and not onto, each other's? How do we really listen? How do we open that door?
I love questions. They allow me to dream the hard edges of a thing into something softer. Something I can taste: flavor in the soul of the meal. It wasn't always so easy for me to answer a question. Like: "what are you feeling right now?" "I don't know," I'd once say, terrified at the thought. But oh, how the question can make you curious. What am I feeling right now? Time is a dealer of questions. Trauma can strip the answering skin right off the bone. Some questions make you feel like you've been thrown into a battle you are completely unarmored for. Many of us weren't given the containing space, early on, to know what the fuck was going on in our homes. Are the people I depend on trying to kill me? Each other? Is love just a form of psychic murder talking pretty in public? Like Dar Williams sings, it's a war in there: growing up.
So how do we come to community given that absolutely everything in us is at stake? It's hard to trust that we will be received given the procedural wounds we carry with us. And yet, we branch out from our wounds, make our own water in these deserts of time. Surely we will always fail each other in some ways. Will our failure be a funeral or a birth? Will we branch out or hunker down?
It can take years just to be able to answer a question about the feeling of the moment. It's not always safe to know what you're feeling. When you're young and terrified it's best not to know too much about it. That can build so many rooms of unknowing in us we get lost in the neighborhoods of our own bodies. If asked where I live, how can I possibly give you directions? I own 20,000 houses of procedural abandonment and pain and little emotional murders. If I can't even find my own way home, how could I ever trust that you might find the right house?
Is there a truer home than the one we build inside a poem, a story, a piece of our heart's art? I have found in these things a kind of nest built out of the detritus of the soul's long aching highway. Maybe that's all community really is. One big beautiful messy nest that we learn to put together, piece by piece, pain by pain, joy by joy. It's nice to build a nest together rather than alone. And yes, there's an awful risk in that. But there's an even bigger risk in going it alone. In never finding, or trusting, our way back home.
When I read the work gathered in these issues I can't help but feel that it is one hell of a big beautiful nest we are building here together. Somehow, I think, we're trying, together, to find a way to answer those questions that built their homes inside of a terrible inner silence. We're learning here how to speak to it. How to say its name. What is its name? Once, it was pain. And only ever. But I think we're digging for water here, too. We're looking for that warm part of the room.
There's nothing greater than feeling like we just might belong somewhere after all. Our stories heard, our poems held, our art truly seen. Or as close as we can come to that. For we are bound to trip up along the way. Funeral or birth? What community is. A question we're still learning the answer to. Let's be born. Branch out. Warm the room. Listen in. Stay a while. May there be here a few of the things you need. We see you, we hear you, we need you. We're really glad you're here. Each of you help to make this a place that feels like home. And for that we thank you.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.