Pandemic Poetry & Art Healing Project
I’ve done and done and attained and attained and by god
when all this started if I had not just told a friend
how OVER I was proving to everyone how on top of things I am.
And holy hell if life didn’t take that as some perverse
ninja warrior challenge: “I know you only have half a lung
on one side and you need groceries but try not to worry
about germs. Your sons are hungry and the oldest upstairs
is secretly downloading Snapchat and talking to a 35-year-old
what-looks-to-be somewhat-of-a porn-star and don’t forget
to teach them and prioritize your work deadlines. Good luck.”
All I know is, the Dalai Lama says everyone has a "joy set point"
and mine, from birth, has always been too high. I have confounded
others for years with my innate ability to ooze happiness at sunrise.
Then, two nights happened: Two nights of the same dream,
of puncturing my throat five times with a pencil.
It was like a boat in an ocean in a comedy show full of corks
that keep popping out and all the water comes in, but in my dream
it was five distinct streams of blood, like water hoses on full blast
pouring out nonstop. The blood flowed out into the living room,
onto the floor, creating a rising pool of red right there –
right there in front of my children and husband.
For a week I found myself drowning in it – driving down the road
looking for the sign that read “opt out.”
How embarrassing, when so many have real suffering.
(Ha! I’m still minimizing my own suffering!)
But did you know this:
Behind the walls of the chrysalis,
the complete digesting of oneself into utter goo.
Only a few cells get saved. And so,
I realized this on the ninth day:
I cannot intellectualize my way out of this.
I must feel out every step with all my being.
There’s no mind to decide. I must rest in my own goo,
and feel out which cells to take forward.
When I look back at this exoskeleton I’m wiggling out of,
it might seem almost unnatural.
To think that all that time,
I believed I had to ask someone
other than myself for permission –
permission to move in my way,
to slow down –
to think I had to ask for permission
to not let all the blood run out.
About the poem:
Just before the Pandemic, my life was at a tipping point. It was becoming more obvious my sons needed me to be more present, I was full-on at work, and I was overwhelmed in general. At the same time, it just so happened that I had felt the call to let go of my attachment to attainment. I had "done the work," all of the internal contemplation, then compounded with the Pandemic, the real work came: "Who am I if I'm not attaining? How do I even survive? What is the next level of "being," rather than "doing," for me? I realized that my anguish was, at its core, a period of grieving. I was grieving my attachment to attainment, which had felt like a death of a piece of myself, so much so, I had recurring dreams about it.
I started researching what really happens inside the chrysalis, and then came my revelation: "Oh! In times like these, we aren't dying. We are transforming." Through this came my Chrysalis Pandemic Mantra, "trust, allow, adapt." This was the foreshadowing of all of the changes I would need to make with my family and schedule, to adapt to this new normal, which is requiring a lot of tuning in, and the courage to ask for what I need. Asking for what we need is not new for everyone, but it was new for me.
I live in the Bay Area with my husband, two boys, and dog, Rufus, and this is my website. Mark Tredinnick says, "Wild writing, true art, must never be purposive. It must intend nothing other than the truthfulness of its own process of creation. It must simply be, just as the wild green chaos of the trees simply is." Mary Oliver says, "Every poem I write must have a genuine body, it must have sincere energy, and it must have a spiritual purpose." The essence of these two sentiments have been guiding my work a lot these days.
About the painting:
This poem resonates with me in several ways. Namely, the analysis of vivid dreams, the exhaustion from feeling the need to prove success, and scolding myself for ever believing “I had to ask someone other than myself for permission to move in my way.” The 5 red bands represent the “5 distinct streams of blood” and the simple solitary chrysalis hangs delicately, patiently, on its own timeline.
Born and raised in central Arkansas, Emily Galusha’s artwork is rooted in her upbringing as well as relationships, Nature and the subconscious. She attended the University of Oklahoma at Norman where she studied Ballet Pedagogy before acquiring her Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville located in the Ozark Mountains. She has been awarded nationally for her Design & Fine Art.
Emily grew up in Little Rock in an inspiring environment, her mother an artist & art instructor, her father a “medicine man”, both highly supportive of their childrens' creative endeavors. Her two brothers are artists and film editors. In her adult life, she has experienced a range of encounters that equally influence her expression, from her passion for animal conservation to challenging interpersonal relationships. She holds strong to her Arkansas roots as she develops within these evolving realms.
Currently based in Austin, TX, she spends the bulk of her energy creating work for one of her three series: Pistols, Animal Dreams, Undercurrents. She shows work at Canopy in Austin and at M2 Gallery in Little Rock. www.emilygalusha.com