Sunday, August 21, 2016

Cancerversary Vulnerability Vigil

Cancerversary Vulnerability Vigil
Friday, August 26, 2016
5-6 pm
Government + Yates St.
Victoria, BC

Everybody welcome. Dressed or not.

Last year, on August 26, I was admitted to hospital because it looked like I had a malignant tumour in my left ovary or thereabouts. A few days later I learned I did indeed have stage 4 ovarian cancer. Dang. Bad prognosis.

I was due for a breakdown. The paradigm I believe in and try to live is about healing. But I had been working in an environment where healing is not part of the vocabulary and most of the words are pretty lies, like "community," "support," "transformative," etc.

I had made the mistake of being honest and caring too much. I didn't have the necessary boundaries. It hurt me. I found my job as a university instructor deeply rewarding and extremely painful.

Pain has been everpresent. I am extremely sensitive. For most of my life I had NO IDEA what it was or how to deal with it, except to feel ashamed.

I can honestly say I don't want to be here, living on this earth in the culture we have created. I don't have the necessary boundaries. I have suffered immense emotional pain. Unconsciously, which looked like boozery, promiscuity, irony, etc., and then consciously, caused by motherhood, mostly.

A great thing about my cancer is that I realized that if I was going to survive, and I do want to survive because I have 9- and 14-year-old kids, I needed to stop fantasizing about dying. So I took another stab at trusting Western pharmaceutical hooha and, what do you know?! I find Cymbalta very helpful. I never think hopeful thoughts about dying anymore. 

I would never have started the Human Body Project on Cymbalta, that's for sure!

Last month's Vulnerability Vigil in Toronto at Yonge and Bloor.
What is the Human Body Project? It's me intersecting my culture, a culture that really does not work for me... even though I am undeniably privileged. I have never felt safe here. 

So in this work, whether I do it on the streets or in performance, as my public self, or even private self, I am always working with my state of vulnerability, which, interestingly, mirrors the vulnerability of humanity at this unfortunate juncture.

Our culture does not understand or respect vulnerability. Our way of dealing with vulnerability is learned in a pre-verbal state. We don't have words to help us. By we, I mean especially us Western humans, who have created a weirdly visible situation: Syria! Yemen! Global climate change! Rape rape rape! Debt debt debt!

Which is also a weirdly invisible situation: far away or on a screen or she asked for it or, the worst, this is how it's all set up so what are ya gonna do?


So anyway, at least once a month I do this thing I call a Vulnerability Vigil where I stand on the street naked. I hold a sign in front of my body because, God forbid the good people creating the 6th extinction should see a naked lady whose body is not selling something. This month I will probably hold the extinction symbol, as I have often done.
Back when I had more hair
My 54-year-old, baby-producing, cancer-surviving, naked female body is there to honour, share and express vulnerability. I work within the spacious form of performance art to present a non-violent, non-rhetorical, feminine, indigenist, healing response to an insane world. I am white and very privileged. This is also about showing up and using my privilege.

A Vulnerability Vigil is a ritual; it's about being the change; it's about being an ally; it's art. Holding vigils (and performing the Human Body Project) continues to be the only sane response I can come up with.

Please consider joining me this Friday. My friend and longtime Vigil partner, Keith Jenkins, will be out of town and I'll be extra-vulnerable without that dear man.

Cancerversary update: Chemo is done but it hurt my joints pretty bad, especially my knees, and either the chemo or the Cymbalta has caused my brain to process less sharply. I need a lot of sleep and rest. That bliss stage I went through for a while last year... I LOVED everyone! It was like being permanently in the early stages of a nice drunk... went away. 

My digestion is good, though. I taught a painting class. We had a great family trip to Ontario. I've been swimming in lakes almost every day this summer. I'm part of the group creating and performing the William Head on Stage play this year at William Head prison. And I'm happy to say my kids are driving me crazy. 

I don't think about the statistics.

Please, when you think of me, say: it's gone, Tasha, and it's not coming back.
Link to Facebook event

1 comment:

  1. Hello and best of luck with everything. I felt compelled to comment here and would also like to communicate through email if possible.
    Let me just say that you transcend being bare, naked, etc and "vulnerable" is a beautiful and truly fitting way to put it. How amazing this is and you should be very proud of yourself.