Surrender - Torino
September - November 2017
I am learning to let go. I left Napoli, a city I had dreamed of living in from the moment I first visited it 4 years ago, knowing my lessons there had been learned. Leaving felt less like an ending and more like a new beginning, and when I arrived here in Turin I could feel I was in the right place to get started once more. Yet still I am displaced. I intended to jump into building a website, growing into my music and my creative identity, after I had found a place to live and some source of income, but the urgency and intensity with which I found myself pulled towards creating this webspace, to nurturing the creator in me, was enough for me to part with any semblance of control over this narrative and lose myself in the process. And so here I am with, at least for now, only a virtual home to truly call my own.
A sense of security ebbing away, still I am learning to let go. It occurred to me quite recently that we could just as easily call the past the process—and the process is the present, which is to say all there is. Over the summer, carrying in a suitcase the literal weight of my past/process in notebooks and materials, I went back and forth with whether or not these things were not simply meant to be let go of in that way which means left behind...but where? They had been sitting in a box on the other side of the world for a year, but they had never left my consciousness. When do we ever really cease being responsible for parts of ourselves? Every single work that I had deemed a work in progress simply because I could not see its worth through the eyes of my unceasing inner critic, this enormous shadow that I'd amassed in creative castaways rescued from and pitched right back into my roughest seas, what I eventually realized is that the letting go I need do with them is the sort that means release. To recognize and allow into being everything that I had deemed worthless at some point in my past would be the only way I could step fully into my present.
What other way to define light, to lend shape to consciousness, than with the darkness of those things we’ve tried so desperately to cast aside?
Completely committed to a creative vision rooted in catharsis, still I am learning to let go. The illusion of control, the idea of dragging from their graves all those selves I thought long slayed, neither of these challenges in letting go has proved more daunting than the one that means simply to feel. To sing is to feel. Only about two years ago did it occur to me that singing was something I wanted to or even could do, and it isn't surprising given that I'd been living estranged from my emotions for so very long. Even so, once I realized that music was something I intended to do with purpose, I approached it from my comfort zone—I sought to learn all that I could, found exercises that I could do daily—in short, I went about trying to feel in a very logical, systematic way (to put it astrologically, my South Node is in Virgo, moon in Capricorn in the 6th square to Venus). My technique improved, but I could still sense that there was something at the core of me that I couldn’t touch, something that wasn’t being engaged whenever I sang. That unnameable space created an audible hollow in my voice, a rootlessness, that gave each song, at least to my ears, the quality of suggestion, as if each song I sang were no more than a hologram of whichever song was intended. But during the same period in which I was so intent on approaching singing from a practical standpoint, I was also compelled to dig even more deeply inside of myself than I had at any point before. I found myself identifying and owning all of the ways in which I still felt shame, allowed myself to see and feel all the ways in which this shame was paralyzing me, and I let each one of them go. I took shame and replaced it with love and what I noticed as a result is that the hollow in my voice began to fill—my voice became more and more resonant the more of me present.
With each day that I sing I find myself doing so more and more with all of me, yet still I am learning to let go. What I have come to understand is this—to really feel an emotion, we must give ourselves two things: one is simply the permission to feel, and the other is a feeling of safety from which to feel. To put this another way, we must allow ourselves to feel and we must feel safe enough to feel. How do we do this? By finding and replacing any outdated, damaging beliefs that make it impossible for us to grant ourselves these two essential things. I had reached a space of allowing when I cleared away the shame that was standing in my way, but what I realized in trying to sing my own songs instead of projecting my feelings into the songs of others is that I had yet to reach one of feeling safe.
That rootlessness I spoke of earlier that I was picking up on in my voice? The root chakra is the energy center in our bodies that is connected to stability and feeling secure; it is linked to our basic needs–food, shelter, water–and when it is not functioning properly we can only ever approach the world, ourselves and others, from a space of fear. We don’t even have to feel afraid or be aware of being afraid to be living with this fear-based, survival-mode mentality but our bodies are always trying to let us know—it’s in the pervasive rigidness that likely goes unnoticed. Try to feel it: focus your consciousness on your shoulders—are they hunched up? Is your jaw tight? What about your hips—when standing is your pelvic area pushed forward? These different types of tension, I’ve learned, are just some of the body’s ways of attempting to control a situation by withdrawing from it—the sort of human equivalent of a turtle retreating into their shell. The key difference is that, because this is a physical response to a subconsciously held feeling of scarcity and fear, we don’t even realize that we’re living cooped up in our shells.
I have left Torino and with it the idea of finding a home, whether within a space or another person—I am letting go, and I have never felt more at home. I am letting go of the need to feel settled when I already feel safe in my own skin. I am letting go of needing to know when and from where and how money and anything else I could ever need will come to me when I know in my heart that I am doing exactly the work that I was born to do. I am letting go of the concept of the ideal time or place because it’s always right now wherever I happen to find myself. I am letting go of waiting to have enough or be enough or know enough to do what lights my soul on fire. I am letting go of needing to know anything at all other than who I am. I am letting go of all that has kept me small, and my dreams have never been bigger nor felt more attainable. Every single belief that has kept me tied to fear, I am letting each one of them go and I am setting myself free.
Surrender, pure and complete. This is what Torino has given me.