There were 500 bodies in the water and it was all too much.
My reaction to the day’s news at 7am on a Saturday ― too much.
All while simultaneously being intensely grateful for everything I have.
It’s a lot of feelings to hit all at once and I held my hand up to block them like some kind of emotional dam. Dismissing my reaction as being frivolous ― ‘I must be hormonal’, I said to myself, shaking my head.
I corrected myself later…
Emotions are everything this immersive exhibition project is about and I realise what I thought was a flaw: ‘too many’ feelings, is actually a strength. I just hadn’t acknowledged it until life tested me to the extreme.
The world’s a mess
Every day there’s bad news. Terrible news.
- 500 migrants are lost at sea.
- 2 young uni students are stabbed to death.
- A young child has EB, which leaves her with blisters inside and outside her body, in constant pain and unable to embrace those deep, meaningful hugs that see us through the worst of times.
And there’s more.
Always, there’s more loss and depravation and terror and unfathomable pain. Yet we bear it, even when the terrible news is ours to own.
How do we do that?
The loss of a beloved son
In among the general miserableness of world events are always the uplifting stories that stay with you. I’d go so far as to say they change you, giving you courage to fight against your own trauma.
I know personally what it feels like to be sitting in Birmingham Children’s Hospital with a very sick child.
Angst like nothing you’ve ever known.
A wild storm of questions whirring around your head.
The exhaustion so unrelenting, you don’t even notice it any more; it hits even a year after the event.
While Meera Naran MBE was undoubtedly experiencing something along those lines herself, her eight-year-old son, Dev, having just left the hospital after visiting his critically ill older brother, was killed on the M6 on a ‘smart’ part of the motorway. With no hard shoulder, the car he was in was hit by a lorry when it broke down.
I’ve no words for that.
Somehow, through everything, Meera found a formidable strength to campaign in Dev’s name for better road safety, and she won. Plans for more smart motorways have now been scrapped and Meera won’t give up on campaigning against the stretches of motorway we already have that are killing people.
‘You’re just a Mum from Leicester’, Meera was told in the early days by someone she knew. ‘What good can you do?’, or words to that affect.
Meera proved that shortsighted doubt wrong.
“You should never limit yourself when there is unlimited success all around you waiting to be claimed.”Meera Naran
You can’t kill the dance
There might be a good reason why I’d not yet tackled resilience out loud on this blog, even though the stories are there to tell. Perhaps because these are the hardest thoughts and feelings to talk about. They can make people uncomfortable. Often, because we don’t talk about our feelings enough out in the open, and that’s what I love about art and creative expression.
You can feel allthethings without having to say you feel allthethings.
You can bring people together and celebrate the strength that’s there within us all, even if it’s buried, and get through because we’re strong and capable and hold more courage than we ever know, until we’re pushed.
The most beautiful depiction I’ve seen of this lately is from The United Ukrainian Ballet. “We fight with beauty,” they say. “Our souls immune to soulless violence”.
If you’re ever to watch a war video, watch this one.
Tapping into our strength
Where does unbreakable courage come from?
That’s what I hope to explore with an immersive exhibition experience anyone can go to to find, rediscover, or honour their inner light that’s never extinguished no matter how hard life tries to snuff it out.
If you’re still here, life ain’t done with you yet.
Image created using Midjourney