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Filling the Thank Full: First Sunday in March 2013

So here at the Bishop Family Compound, we’ve been outputting like crazy- writing, shooting video for ourselves and for others, performing in a variety of personae, more writing, editing of words (we’ve been procrastinating on the editing of video footage) meeting about art projects, planning for art projects as well as working day jobs and doing chores.

Yesterday, I did a bunch of work but also made time for input. I watched videos folks posted, I listened to music, I went to see a play. And today, to help fill my thank full to the top, I list ten things that I encountered over the past week that filled my well. I can almost hear a heavenly choir singing “You can fill my well. Fill my well” to the chorus of Anita Ward’s “Ring my bell.” I give thanks for the ten experiences that I list below.

Now my listing of these ten things does not mean I think they are without flaw. Yet despite quibbles or reasonable criticisms, which I only detail in one case because it highlights my enjoyment of the experience, I found these ten things helped top me off. I need to be topped off. I need to fill my well.

I am about to enter a ten day stretch of day job work, ten days straight at work before I have a day off. On top of that, today I finally will begin intensive editing for a paying video project that is due at the end of this month. And this week, I am launching a fundraising campaign for the next season of projects I am producing as Sheila Bishop. And I have to work on a couple of projects to be staged in April. And then there is my normal daily work as Bishop Bishop.

I needed to be topped off. I needed to fill the well. Here are ten things that filled my well.

1. Vi Hart’s Guide to Comments from a list sent out by Brain Pickings. A fun take on how to think about comments folks make online. The unplanned interactions with wax may be my favorite part of this video.

2. Wheelchair Sports Camp’s song Where We All Live, posted by acquaintance on Facebook. A lovely song that manages to be both playful and a bit mournful at the same time.

3. Paul Pino’s Cochlear Resonance, found while I was on YouTube, a piece of art by someone who, in my “Sheila Bishop” role, I taught a bit about time based media. Meditative video of the spinning motion of his sculpture of paper and sound.

4. Thrift Shop by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis heard constantly on pop radio. I do not often buy music (and no, I don’t find it fallen off the back of the internet truck either, I tend to spend my money on books), but I bought this song. I love, love, love this song. It is “fucking awesome.”

5. Watching people I know act in Death of A Salesman at the High Springs Community Theater. I don’t like Arthur Miller’s writing. I think Death of A Salesman is an immature take on human failure and the fault lines in family life. Despite not liking the writing, I enjoyed watching the actors work. They did a good job. I left the theater thinking about what was done well and what was not done as well and how it could have been better. I pondered how the writing limited the director’s and actor’s choices. I restaged certain scenes to better get at the complexity of the relationships. My critical engagement with the work, my thinking about its flaws, is a compliment. If it was just so-so, I would shrug it off. I wouldn’t keep thinking about it. But I thought for a long time, even after I needed to go to sleep. My enjoyment of the experience was enhanced by its flaws because they fed my brain, which cares deeply about live performance. I am well aware that if I staged the play there would be flaws for people to probe. Centered artists realize that even their best work is flawed and that the flaws are part of the gift to a well-informed audience/viewer/reader.

6. Esther Perel: The secret to desire in a long-term relationship. A TED talk a friend posted and tagged me in. An interesting and often amusing talk about long term love and desire and how they work against each other.

7. Bowling and beer to celebrate a birthday. On Friday night, I was tired and not sure I wanted to be social, but I am so glad I went. I had a grand time hanging out with a group of folks, few of whom I knew. We laughed and shouted and groaned. We had a damn good time. I played for just two hours. Some turns, I didn’t even knock down one pin. Other turns, I got spares and once, I got a strike. It was fun and helped me remember that play is vital for adults, not just children.

8. SAW Workshop Show #1. I missed the actual show due to the bowling but I stopped by while the doors where still open to the public and enjoyed browsing through some the zines that the students made during a workshop with John Porcellino.

9. Hanging out with one of my cousins. We went to breakfast on Tuesday and then he came over for dinner on Thursday night. We had long conversations about life and politics and family. I do not agree with many of his political positions, but I respect his thoughtfulness. And it was nice to relax around someone whose brain is wired in similar ways.

10. The Feminist Open Mic. This week I was heartbroken by the racism and sexism to which Quvenzhané Wallis was subjected. On Tuesday evening, I shook with anger and sadness. It is a world of woe. This nine year old was subjected to thoughtless and mean spirited comments. Reporters didn’t do their job; they refused to learn how to say her name. Jokes in poor taste were made. Because she is a black female, things were said to and about her that never would have been said to or about a young white girl. It is a world of woe. I do not care that it was satire, no nine year old should be called a “cunt” by a member of the media. I was heartbroken. I went to the Feminist Open Mic, and I gave a sermon about that heartbreak, about the thoughtless use of the word “cunt.” The audience gave me their attention and care. Here was an audience that could hold my heartbreak. And in turn, I was uplifted by the performances of others; people played music skillfully, people performed poetry with quiet or loud intensity, people sang beautifully. The Feminist Open Mic filled my well through the cracks in my heart. It could not fill those cracks, but it helped me bear the woe of the world by giving me some wonder.

Today, I give thanks for these ten experiences. May my list of ten things that filled my well help you fill your own well. Take care and keep on keeping on.

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