The Value of Small Things

The Event of a Thread — Day 6

“It is hard to be brave,” said Piglet, sniffing slightly, “when you’re only a Very Small Animal.”

Rabbit, who had begun to write very busily, looked up and said:

“It is because you are a very small animal that you will be Useful in the adventure before us.”

~ Benjamin Hoff, The Te of Piglet ~

today’s Event of a Thread was Epic. i was there from 9am-5pm. i showed up for a full “work day,” but it was perceived as an eternity. it amazes me how vast time is and how quickly things can change; it is very easily possible to lose track of one’s self and of the little things in life when we succumb to the chaos that surrounds us.

we came in early today to get some film footage of the installation. Ann’s film crew had come in the day before to shoot with the public in attendance, but it was nearly impossible to get a shot without someone on their phone. people are constantly taking pictures, texting friends, posting stuff on social media, or only doing gods know what on their devices. Ann made the observation that it seems impossible these days to simply have an experience without trying to capture it in some way. i so often fall prey to this myself. and i struggle because i believe that, despite the genuine intention to share experiences with others, this behavior causes us miss out on the fullness of the experience itself.

photo of photo

so this morning a group of us came in so they could film some shots of people without their personal devices all over the space. for me, it was a wonderful opportunity to come in an experience the installation without the pressure of performing in it. it felt very freeing. i was glad to be able to reconnect with the work in a new way and it reminded me of those early days in the beginning of the run when the atmosphere was more quiet and meditative. in those quieter times, i could really feel the power of the work, the immensity of the space, and the very clear relationship of my actions to the energy and movement of the Event.

Quiet Times

we were given very little direction during the shooting, with the exception of one sequence where we were encouraged to act as if we were experiencing the installation as if it was our first time. it was not hard to do this. i feel that way virtually every time i walk into the Armory because the room seems so different from one day to the next. especially in comparison to the past few hectic times, walking into it today actually did feel as if it was my first time. rather, it felt much like i would imagine one of the higher levels of reincarnation feels—born again, back again, and with knowledge from past experience to inform the next. seeing it all for the first time even though we have encountered this before; understanding it while knowing that once we have figured it out, it has already changed. we have already changed. (check out this thought-provoking article for more on the 35 steps of reincarnation: the Personality & Spirituality blog)

the Event of a Thread filming felt like a tesseract (at least in The Wrinkle of Time sense of the word). it was like spacetime had folded up and created a passageway, a kind of wormhole where we could travel back and forth. we were in a new place together having forged new relationships to each other and to the art. we were also going backwards through memory and experiencing the present sensations of timelessness.

and then the doors opened to the public. in a moment, the entire space was changed. the rush of energy as the day’s first visitors burst into the room felt like a dramatic shift in the tides. i felt the familiar wave of overwhelming wash over me. i decided to wormhole back to the green room to process all this.

after a couple hours of peaceful writing shielded by the walls of the Armory, it was my shift to read. as usual, my conflicting emotions of anticipation entered in. i felt both excited and honored to take my place in the reader chair, while experiencing the familiar dread of uncertainty facing the challenges before me.

the craziness on the floor of the Armory gave me unexpected perspective as i tried to focus in on the simple act of reading amidst the chaos. at some point during the reading, i started to experience this intense pain—i felt like i was burning up on the inside, that perhaps i was going to pass out, explode, or engage in some otherwise inappropriate physical aberration. my mind went into panic mode. i didn’t know if i should risk getting up and walking back through the Armory (with the possibility of falling in the middle of the floor and causing a commotion) or if i should just sit there and bear it out. after a little while, i realized that i didn’t actually have a choice. i couldn’t have gotten up if i tried.

and so i suffered for a period of time, one which i could not possibly translate into any standardized unit of measurement. and then, the glass of water was placed to my left—the signal that i was done. the pain flushed out of me in a wave of relief. i got up and it was over.

or so i thought.

afterwards, i went out to K-town with my sister, Alicia, and her partner DeanLogan. we ate some delicious spicy pork and bibimbap and all seemed good in the world. until i got on the subway to go home and my body was writhing in pain as i attempted once again to avoid passing out or exploding.

when i got home, there was another release. as the pain flushed out of me, i had to wonder what exactly was happening. and then i had to wonder why i hadn’t seen my cat, Salvador, since well before i left that morning to go to the Armory. normally in the mornings, he is following me around and trying to get into my lap at every opportunity. but i realized that i hadn’t seen him since my roommates left that morning. why didn’t he greet me at the door when i got home? and why Kitchu was freaking out and meowing like a maniac?

where was Salvador?!?

again, i found myself in panic mode. only this time it wasn’t physical. normally my cats come bounding to the door to greet me when i come home. not only was Salvador’s presence absent, but my many attempts to locate him were in vain. this is a cat who snuggles at every opportunity and comes running at any signal for attention. so when Salvador didn’t respond to my call, i assumed the worst: he must have gotten spooked as my roommates left in the morning and no one noticed him run out the door. and that cat was born and raised for one year in a shelter and then brought into my warm, loving home—his street-wise survival skills would not be listed under his greatest assets.

moustache

so after searching for him all over the apartment and on the frigid streets of Brooklyn for hours, i decided to seek help. as i was literally moving the computer cursor to the “send” button, to email his photo to the Animal Services of NYC and…

BAM! CRASH! CRASH!!!

…what the heck?!?

as i looked over my left shoulder to the washing machine closet, i saw the ladder shaking and much of a scuffle happening. i ran over the the washer and there, wedged between the machine, floor, wall, and ladder, was my beloved Salvador. he was kind of stuck and flailing, as he tried to wriggle his way to freedom. i was so happy and also so freaking mad! another wave of relief passed through my body as i hugged him and reprimanded him, simultaneously laughing and crying.

i began to realize the importance of understanding our relationship to the Value of Small Things. to me, this really translates to all Small Things (not just animals or people of small stature). i believe that the way we treat objects is symbolic of the way we treat others, and ultimately, the way we consider our selves. i embody this philoSophie as a puppeteer; puppetry is an art form that is built upon a respect for objects. learning to breathe life into an object has caused me to view any object with the potential for purpose, relationships, and meaning.

on a recent trip to visit to visit my parents, i got sucked into the television for two hours. i don’t normally watch TV, but in the Remolde household, there always seems to be (at least) one TV broadcasting in some common area of the house. seeing as i was on a kind of vacation and that Oprah really knows how to get to me (and notably, millions of other viewers), i let myself divulge in what she calls “Super Soul Sunday.” Oprah’s featured guest that day was Nate Berkus, an interior designer discussing his new book “The Things That Matter.”

this book looks at design through his own deeply personal narrative. he reveals life-changing events, such as coming out to his family as a gay man and losing his partner in the 2004 tsunami, to underscore his core philosophy: that things do, indeed, matter. our homes tell our own stories. they embody the places we’ve been and who we’ve loved; our choice to surround ourselves with these reflections of our lives can be the inspiration behind the design we put out into space. by focusing on how we attend to these details, we can create environments filled with love and life.

responsibility, care, attention—we can choose how we relate to objects, animals, ourselves, and others. it is the driving force behind the kind of world we are able to create.

after this epic Event of a Day, i am examining how i interact with and acknowledge the Small Things. can i take in all the craziness that surrounds me—the storms, the loss, the change, the chaos—and not lose track of the important things under the surface? can i remember to take care of those i love when i am overwhelmed with life? can i take a moment to breathe when challenge and panic set in? can i look at all things with equanimity? perhaps by taking time to give weight to that which is small, i can create space inside my self to take in that which is huge. then all things will be filled with meaning and purpose, and i can appreciate both extremes for exactly as they are. because all things are filled with the paradox of being completely life-changing, and also one small part in the grand scheme of things.

as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle once said (via his character Sherlock Holmes), “One’s ideas must be as broad as Nature if they are to interpret Nature.”

this Lobsterbird is saying: yes, and…one must also be able to give Value to the Small Things if they are to truly understand how big they can be.

The Great Way flows everywhere,
To the left and to the right.
The ten thousand things
Depend on it for life.
It nourishes them all,
Holding nothing back.
It accomplishes what needs to be,
But takes no credit.
It clothes and feeds all things,
Yet does not claim
To be their lord.
It asks for nothing in return.
It may be called the Small.

The ten thousand things
Follow it,
Return to it.
Yet it does not claim
To be their lord.
Therefore, it may be called
The Great.

So too the wise may become great,
By becoming small.

~ Lao-tse, Tao Te Ching, Chapter Thirty-Four ~

I would suggest that the next time a What If starts badgering you, look it straight in the eyes and ask it, “All right, what’s the very worst that could happen?” And when it answers, ask yourself, “What could I do about it?” You’ll find there will always be something. Then you’ll see that you can have power in any situation. And when you realize that, the fears will go away…Especially when you realize where the power comes from. In one way or another, we’re all Very Small Animals, and that’s all we need to be. So why worry about it? All we have to do is live in harmony with the Way, for the benefit of the world, and let its power work through us. Let it do the work.

~ Benjamin Hoff, The Te of Piglet ~

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Written by lobsterbird