There has been so much that has occurred since the end of last year that has deeply and profoundly affected my heart and being. I don’t want to get into detail for now but it has me thinking about our lives and when we are no longer here. Where is the evidence of our story? How do we leave our mark? In what ways this has (or not) been witnessed or will (or not) be witnessed? Where is the evidence of ‘us’, our experience, our learnings and the things we remember? How do we know for sure where we have been? Where is the evidence?
When we cut down a tree there are rings, markers of each year of its life. Those with training can read each ring and can determine the tree’s experience through time. This is evidence of a particular trees story, of its experience in this world. These marks/ ringlets are also found in each tree branch, each with its individual story as it grows. Each leaf has its distinctive markings from its own developing life. How intricate a tale.
There are many different breeds of trees and there are many different leaf structures but there are particular features that make each of them distinguishable. There are patterns of behaviour, patterns of formation, of growth and seeding. But to those with a trained eye there are also individual life maps and stories for each.
Us humans, like the trees and most other elements of life here on Earth, have distinguishable features, we have similar patterns of formation and growth. We have a method of procreation. How these things happen however may vary depending on many different factors (internal genetic, biological and external environmental factors). Where can we look to see, very specifically, a map of our lives though? Where is the evidence of our growth and what we were experiencing at that time? Where is the evidence regarding the factors that were affecting us as we developed?
Our blueprint, the DNA that we are born with, is full with genetic markers and ‘intention’ but this isn’t necessarily how we end up. Many external factors influence, interject, activate or alter our initial coding. Gut microbes affected by the food we eat, the amount of food we eat, the external viruses we contract, physical accidents, emotional trauma, stress, radiation, chemicals etc. An example for me at the moment is the Cladrabine chemo pill that I have been taking in order to slow down or halt the progression of my Multiple Sclerosis. The treatment, these little pills, have altered the repair structure of my DNA so that my autoimmune system no longer attacks my own body. Our DNA is the intention but as we grow there is so much potential for alteration. We become diverged from our initial blueprint.
After our death a post mortem can go a long way to discovering how our physical body at the time of death looks. Informing of the factors that affected our physical life. But it can not tell the story of our dreams, our memories, hopes, heart intentions and actions nor can it tell us what shaped them.
Recently scientists in Russia were able to recreate on a computer screen our perceptions of what we are looking at using Artificial Intelligence. Neuroscientists can even follow an entire thought from beginning electrical firing to its destination, they can observe our neurons connecting, breaking and reconnecting, all evidence ‘of’ our functioning but not the sensory ‘experience’ nor the emotional story. Where is the map of our being? Are we the only ones whom will ever know it?
I have thought long about this and this is what I hope to explore and any learnings or meaning making from this will inform one of my exhibitions. As mentioned previously in this blog exploring what it means to be human is such a vast task. I have been around the houses this past few years and overwhelmed myself in moments. I have reconnected and struggled to find a meaningful focus on which to concentrate the beginnings of my art work. This, this is the place I choose to begin. Where is our map?
Interestingly years back I had an album of pictures on Facebook called ‘Where one finds oneself’ it wasn’t anything special or profound just moments where I had accidentally caught myself or found myself in an image that I hadn’t realised. It was just fun to share. Funny how innocent or small almost seemingly insignificant moments are the unconscious seeds of future actions. Here are some small examples of this album so as to give a hint as to the direction of this first official step:
Of course I will be looking more widely noticing small moments that evidence our existence. Where we may be in a moment or where we once were. Exploring where we may leave evidence of our life stories. Markers of life, of growth, our personal truths and what may be left to tell others of our existence when we are no longer here (if at all). This will take a bit of time as I’m currently struggling with post viral fatigue and I have my clear days and my not so clear confused and exhausted days so hopefully you can all bare with me.
During my growing older exhibition I was particularly touched by one woman whom explained that she was wearing her mother’s gloves. The gloves were delicate and made with tight leather which had moulded to the shape of her mothers hands. This is how she felt she could stay connected and described the feeling when she put them on as if she and her mother were holding hands. These gloves were markers, evidence of her mother’s life.
This was so poignantly beautiful.
8 thoughts on “Our Map?”
I’d be happy to chat sometime – how can we connect? By the way, I think your art is stunning!
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Thank you I’m not sure about stunning but it’s certainly improving. Feel free to email the address is currently at the bottom of my being human in lockdown page (until I design a contact form) 🙏 amazing!
Wonderful piece – I love this. Both the photos and the words. I think you are absolutely right. This is a key question for me, and was in all my years of work as a doctor. I think I got hints of the maps in individual stories, the way they were told, as well as in their content. But I think there are often other hints too in the structure – in the patterns of pathology and change within an individual body. But this whole phenomenon of the embodied Self is SUCH an attractive, interesting and wonderful area to explore.
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Oh wow yes and what an insight thank you for reading! I’m exploring it quite a bit as you say it is such an interesting question. Happy to chat more about it. It’s a massive topic