When I was pregnant with Geo, I didn't think much into what I wanted him to "be" or "do." I think most of us women spend our pregnancies simply imagining health and happiness for our child's life, knowing that we will love them unconditionally, and support them in whatever fulfills them. Although, with Geo, I had one recurring thought, and voiced it to certain friends and family once or twice:
"He's going to be an acrobat."
I don't know why, and it isn't like that was ever a dream of my own. (I dreamt of being an actress and visual artist). But having seen my first Cirque Du Soleil show (Mystere) when I was 7 years old, and then Quidam when I was nine - I remember the heart-opening, magical effect of seeing human bodies fly and whirl through the air. I didn't know what the feeling was back then, but I believe that my heart speeding up and skipping beats and launching into my throat were all sensations of the heart chakra/energy center blasting open. The synthesis of the music, staging, costuming, lighting, etc with the indescribably beautiful movement of the performers in the mystical big-top was not only mesmerizing - it was spiritually transcendent. Like a phantasmagorical, super-colorful, multi-sensory, multi-dimensional initiation into a thought-form beyond the everyday processes to which we are accustomed.
After an experience of initiation, there is an integration period in which an individual might go through challenging moments - due to latent concepts, memories, desires, or sensations coming to the surface. They are there to be acknowledged and learned from. They reveal aspects of the true self. They bring growth and strength, and if surrendered to, they can open portals to further initiation; into endless truths and wonders. Life (perhaps eternally) is one initiation after another. We are constantly evolving.
At Quidam, my mother bought me the program booklet. I repeatedly stared at the faces of the acrobats and felt an obsessive admiration. I made a program of my own with drawings of each figurine in my collection of small toys. They comprised an epic choir/performance troupe of which I was the director, and I modeled their square-shaped "headshots" on the Cirque ones. Having been Russian-born in Odessa, Ukraine, I felt connected to many of the Quidam cast-members who were Russian. I felt the fire of a lifelong yearning for the performing arts being stoked by my remembrance of the show - the spectacle - I had witnessed. Studying dance since the age of 3 (still am!), I was already a campy stage kid, but nothing in the world had affected me the way that show did.
I mentioned the integration period after an initiation because looking back, I feel as if my nine-year-old self was somehow aware that I [it] was on a spiritual quest. Deeply in my heart, I am a mystic. One who connects to higher power through creativity and resonance, who finds solace in breath and song, who seeks truth but tries to not let it get trapped in dogma. Back then, at nine, I experienced a couple weeks of what I would now actually describe as depression. I felt a dark dread in the mornings, I felt like crying for no obvious reason, I felt unmotivated. I was sad that my direct experience of Quidam was over. I was sad that I wasn’t in that tent, hearing that music and seeing those acts, and I felt sad that my only link to that magic was my memory. I think that’s why I obsessed so much over the program booklet, leafing through it endlessly and drawing up my own version. I think those couple weeks of a nine-year-old’s depressive funk were my integration period after experiencing one of the most intense and transformative initiations of my life (and there have been, and will be, many).
What was I integrating? Ancient dreams of flight? Seemingly intangible career goals as an artist? Visions of my future which I had no way of comprehending at the time? The story-line and characters of the show and their impact on my young self as an immigrant, only-child, daughter of two artists, creative kid with big dreams?
Was I able to surrender to those sensations? Those arching truths leaning into my soul’s periphery, hinting to me that I would always love the arts, passionately and recklessly, whimsically and beyond-words-achingly? I would become a theater geek in high school, major in Dramatic Art in college, dance in various companies, spend a year in Egypt engaging in some exhaustively scrupulous soul-searching… and become (and be in a constant state of becoming) a visual and performing artist.
Yet, there is something deeper. Beyond the sensation of my own future as an artist, beyond the emotional pull of a bottomless scope of inspiration, beyond the realization that I could do nothing except live and breathe for creativity… I look back now, and think - perhaps, I was sensing, somewhere very subtly, somehow and sometime, that I would raise a child in the arts, and he would learn to fly through the air, and he would open hearts.
He would lift his eyelids to reveal the deepest depths of sea and sky, soaring through grids of starlight and bouncing from stratosphere to ether. This would be my little son, or daughter, propelling through the air like a dragonfly and causing wide grins to materialize on the faces of anyone watching…
It’s just a vision. A little dream. Albeit a grain of the molecular magic of which we’re made. Nevertheless, a dream. Did I dream it at nine, or did I dream it the other day while experiencing the latest Cirque Du Soleil show to come to Los Angeles, Kurios? I sat there just as sweetly stupefied and exhilarated, squeezing my lover’s shoulder and letting my eyes fill with tears not once, not twice, but three times throughout the show… marveling at every single detail. Whether it was this show, or the one I saw as a child, or any other moment of life which spoke to my soul - I know beneath my intuition’s veil, there is truth in art, and there is truth in being creative. I don’t “think” about what my son will “be,” but I suppose I do think about what I’d love for him to “do…”
Be creative. Live with imagination. That’s it.
"Our world is in crisis because of the absence of consciousness. And so to whatever degree any one of us, can bring back a small piece of the picture and contribute it to the building of the new paradigm, then we participate in the redemption of the human spirit, and that after all is what it's really all about."
Last.fm Music Profile
Alex Chemer Photography (my father)
Vera Rey Fine Art