the why

From the journal: March 2016 It's difficult to say when "only seeds" began. Perhaps it was months ago... some days it has felt like it was years ago, even decades maybe. Memories of a walk-three generations deep-through an arroyo, picking seeds. Lately, it has begun again and again, everyday, as I watch the news. News of another man murdered, another woman raped, babies washing ashore after the ocean breaks their life, families torn apart because they don't live on this side or that side of a line. I thought hard in the beginning about how to talk about these injustices. Injustices that have forced people to become removed from their own humanity. Injustices that have forced people to abandon their lives, the very things that make them who they are, in order to find a safe place in the world. Injustices that have forced people against one another-to draw lines in dirt that say "mine" and "yours", "you" and "me", "yes" and "no". The stories are complicated and overwhelming at times as I meet the sojourners that are the magic of this project. There are times when a simple hello can begin a conversation that will end in tales of separation, loss and even death. That is reality now. There are women, as old as my grandmother would be today, who sit in the heat of the day, on concrete, begging for their life as people pass them by. They sell gum and then they go home. Some days I can see them through the fencing and armed guards. Those women do not cross the line someone drew in the dirt. There are women who carry bags filled with medicine and clothes, letters and lists. They travel with a card in their pocket and stories for every day. Those women cross the line someone drew in the dirt. To clean the floors of other's homes. They become messengers, they become sisters, mothers, grandmothers. There are men who cross, choosing their clothes carefully. Not too clean. Not too dirty. They don't want anyone to suspect they are working. To suspect they have a family. To suspect they, like everyone else on earth, must survive. They cross through a gate everyday and become another person entirely... a different version of themselves, a visitor. "only seeds" is meant to question why we decided the lines in the dirt should stay and why they have served to dictate what a person carries, their worth and where there life can be. "only seeds", despite having grown from incredibly complicated truths, is a simple action. Three women. Crossing a border. To grow. Because they can. The action is meant to trace, simply...beautifully, the paths of real women who cross among worlds as part of their life. Those same women would cross because they want to if the sirens that tell them to survive weren't so loud, if those sirens didn't drown out their simple right to joy and happiness. Like ants, thousands of people march across the border each day. Thousands of stories. Thousands of dreams. These three women, will trace those paths through this city... on this side of the line. The seeds that cover their bodies, keep safe their identities, will serve as symbols for the idea that above all other things, our right to grow comes first. If a human cannot grow, they are not truly living. Reflecting: What is fascinating about working over extended periods of time through phases of a project is that you are able to trace your perspective and witness yourself changing and growing. Perhaps the first post I felt compelled to share for this project was only after I made my way to Juarez because for the first time since this project began, the change I felt in myself was not gradual or soft... it was immediate, drastic and incredibly powerful. I was jolted in and out of two worlds in mere minutes. Juarez had only been an echo during the nearly decade of my life before this project. My great aunt was run out of the studio she had spent decades building, away from the murals she had created... exiled from the home she loved. I was in the Himalayas when that happened, reading horror stories in the news about what was happening in a place I had known my entire life as a place of relentless and magical truth. I couldn't understand or even fathom what my aunt must have felt. I, a selfish visitor, mourned for the loss of my refuge, my escape and one of my life's magic places. My aunt mourned the loss of her life. I hadn't acknowledged the other piece of this project completely until making the decision to cross to Juarez. You can read in earlier posts, why that decision was difficult. It wasn't until I returned to Juarez that I truly grasped how much work there is to be done. How much there is to touch and discover. How much needs to change. I hadn't been reminded of my tunnel vision and privilege in quite a long time. The urge to cry sat ruthlessly in my chest after my first return. ... and here is the truth of it all... even that urge that I get to feel and those tears that I can come home and release, I understand now, are a privilege. You don't know strength until you cross those lines someone drew that you're powerless to erase... until you look truth in the eye. How did that happen? How did I get so far away from what is living just down my street?


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