“And this is one of the mysteries, that the mind can speak, and knows nothing, and the heart knows everything, and cannot speak.” Osho
There is short video of a few moments of an installation entitled, The Artist is Present, by performance artist Marina Abramovic at the Museum of Modern Art. Everyone I know who has seen this clip gets choked up as soon as Marina opens her eyes to see that her former lover and performance partner, Ulay, is sitting across from her:
Although I think I only grazed the edge of what actually transpired, here are some scribblings in response:
The sparklingly clear moment when the world tilts and your heart rips its seams is so beautiful and wrenching that all moments coming before were mere prologues to this. It’s about love of course, the kind that not just changes you but remakes you in its own image. The moment when he sits across from you just before you open your eyes. And then you do. Open your eyes. And you are crushed, decimated and sprung open all in the same moment. His eyes. You have known those eyes since before you were born. They are the stars you came from.
You sat with your hair tied together for hours, days even, until you morphed into one stream from head to head. You balanced on the trust of his strength, hanging so straight and true. But even when he held the rope, knotted his long hair to yours, faced you unflinching naked in the archway, it was you who didn’t let go.
You stood naked in a doorway, facing each other like Venus faces the moon. And then it was done. His eyes roved over pretty young things. He couldn’t hold fast. And you were brave and strong and true.
You walked the Great Wall of China to say goodbye. It wasn’t for show. And it wasn’t just for art. It was for love. The big love that could bring you home at last. But it didn’t bring you home.
And you struck out, as always, on your own. You let them do what they would to you – cut you, hold a gun to your head, burn you and more. That is the depth of your trust. You were heroic and alive.
And then you believed you weren’t pretty or young enough and you let them have you – your pretty Slavic face pumped up to youthfulness, full lips you never had, without lines. Pretty now. But not young. You were never so young.
For days you sat, knowing he might sit again in the chair in the big wide room and look into your endless eyes. Your eyes without end. Even so.
When you opened your eyes he was there and the world changed again. Just then right then. The world watches now on small screens those few moments of that encounter when your heart burst inside your chest until you had to, just had to touch him. When you broke through your stillness to touch him, the crowd applauded. Everyone wants a happy ending.
But he had to stand up, had to tug down the edge of his jacket, had to head back into the parting crowd and leave you, serene and perfect in your red dress in the centre of that vast room. He had to. And you had to sit. Close your eyes. And wait for the next arrival. A face in which to look. No mirror so clear as the moment that had already passed.
And I think about regret and choice, and how one single choice turns one’s entire fate in its palm. Yes, I’m talking to you. The choice that colours everything from that moment on. And how, in the leaving, one takes the other with them nonetheless, their exhale forever the beloved’s inhale.