Down Hill

Down Hill 

I don’t think this piece is finished; and I’m not sure that I will be finishing it in the short term. I do think that it expresses what I intended, and therefore, is ready to process in this way.

The piece itself is filled with the rushing head- long into the unknown feeling, attempting to outrun the feelings that are welling up within me; the rush of smells, sounds and images, seemingly jumping at me, threatening to take me down. It took me many days of layering materials, playing with the 3D image of a tiny, little person on a bike, and working towards the feelings of chaos- held back by the insubstantial guard rails along the trail, to feel like this was taking the shape it needed.

It is a response to my long- time family physician, rock solid supporter, and friend. He has asked me good questions about my process in healing from childhood sexual abuse. And they have been difficult to answer. All my responses have fallen short of capturing the feelings and sentiment of the experiences I have had.

I first heard the following quote by Irish poet Seamus Heaney, during the recent Democratic National Convention, from Joe Biden.  The last line in particular stuck with me, so that I felt compelled to go look it up and read it over and over again, in order to integrate its meaning into the places it was reaching within me.

“Don't hope
On this side of the grave,
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme”

The longed for integrative moment came while I was on my bike, going down hill around a corner in my city’s river valley. I had noticed a spinning feeling over this summer of new and unusual and ever- changing, world circumstances. I noticed the scents of blooms overlaying the smell of traffic and the city; and the sounds all around me, from cars revving, to children playing, and to the silence of more remote spaces. Fused to my physical experience of the riding- the effort, the exhilaration, I experienced sensory overload that was triggering (disturbing to the point of bringing up old feelings, memories and panic.) These experiences made me feel angry, confused and anxious, and I struggled to keep them from overwhelming me.

And one day, after I had heard the Seamus Heaney poem, it occurred to me that the answer to the question: why does the past have to keep coming up/ involving  itself in your current reality to this day?; was articulated by the line: “And hope and history rhyme”.

I have long since described myself as ‘annoyingly optimistic’. I even annoy myself with the words I sometimes say to myself and others, in expressing my hope, my CERTAINTY that we will get through our trials. The past won’t stop rushing up at me in bits and pieces. That’s alright. I am very aware that I have the tools to deal with those moments.

That’s part of the answer- the pieces come up as they do as a reaction to experiences caused by particular (or a combination of) sensory stimuli. That’s my reality. My reality also includes dis- integration at times.

The more important part of my response to this question is that I believe, and have always believed, that my experiences are best used in service to others. It is hard to talk about some of my experiences with strangers. But I do because that has the potential to give them hope.

And there it is: hope and history, actually rhyme for me, within me, and hopefully beyond me as well.

1 comment


I love this piece and the processing of it. I never could have guessed that it represents an overwhelming moment. For me it looks joyful, fun, and serene!

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