Life & Death, an exploration of art

Lately, I've been exploring ideas around 'what is art?' And as a performing artist, I've been playing with ways to break down the gap between audience and artist. I've been attempting to move beyond the idea that my expression and performance is limited to a stage, and redefining that life is my stage, and human experience is my art.

Today, as I sat in my morning tea ceremony ritual, my mind was busy and scattered. I was continually drawn back to my ex-partner, replaying memories and experiences that we shared together in the past. I could feel the desire for my body to release stirring up, but frustration in my mind seemed to be it's only manifestation. I wanted to let go, to release the old.

Today I was drinking tea in my new home, in the city I moved away from to be with said ex-partner. I was back. That chapter in Sydney, now closed, and my mind & body trying to piece together resolution and integration. I realised it was a sense of loss that I was experiencing and trying to make sense of. 

Exhale. I brought my mind back to the bowl of tea in my hands, steam rising towards my face, as I held it close to my heart. 'Stay with the Tea', I reminded myself. Exhale again. I could feel the warm tea trickling down my throat, my spine straight and the warmth of a blanket wrapped around me. Presence. Mindfulness. Breath. Tea. 

Before long, my mind trailed off again, caught in thoughts of my ex. Frustrated, I left out an audible sigh, making way for the body to release. My mind flashes to something else, a reminder that I need to respond to a friend who messaged me yesterday requesting advise on how to give a tea ceremony. Her friend, a woman who shared the love for tea ceremony, was recently killed in a devastating flood in northern NSW. The memorial for this woman is tomorrow, and tea ceremony will be offered, so my friend is seeking support. I get stuck on the realisation that someone has died. Someone's daughter is no longer alive. I don't know this woman personally, or even her name, but I feel the weight of her death. My body responded. Tears came streaming down my cheeks, as I poured the next bowl of tea. Release. 

It felt so good to let out the tears, and I realised how the loss of someone's life was the catalyst for my body to release the loss of my life in Sydney. I genuinely ached for the fact that someone (and probably more people) died from a flood. I thought of the community of people I know that live in the region where the flood was. I thought the women I know that live there who also love tea... and wondered if perhaps I might know this woman who has passed.

I wept. For the loss of life. For the loss of homes. For my own transition and letting go that I've been going through. I looked up and caught the eyes of my housemate, loving meeting my gaze. She sat with tea bowl in her hands, gently offering a sense of empathy and admiration through her eyes. As I cried, I could feel one large tear flow down my cheek, curve under my chin and make a trail down my neck, all the way towards my heart. It moved slowly and softly across my skin. I noticed how my housemate's eyes left mine, and followed the tears down my body. I felt so seen by her in this moment. 

We finished drinking the tea in our hands, then sat and looked into each other's eyes once more. I asked if I could tell her about my experience, and she obliged. I recounted these wanderings of the mind, of my body's need for release, and how it had come through grieving the loss of life of a woman I didn't even know. She told me about what it was like to watch the single tear fall from my eyes and make it's way down my face and chest. "..like a waterfall over rocks..", she described. She told me it was art, that I was art, and reflected on how the soft music in the background seemed to match the falling of my tears in perfect timing. 

Life and death and art. Tears and Tea. Breath and letting go. Release, release, release. 

Can it be that my tears are my gift of art to the world? Is my life in fact an artist expression?