by Laura Wellen
I am writing to you right now, just as you are reading my words right now, too.
What’s the new news? we stutter.
New news is old news now. And now. And now.
Wise Reem says: we always rush toward the future, or we look at the past like it was some special magic thing that we wish we could find again.
That leaves out the present, she says. We forget the right now, and sometimes we don’t remember about the right here, because we’re looking at a shiny thing over there, sometime soon.
I am writing to you. Right. Now.
Looking at time in the present is a political act in itself, Wise Reem says. If you can somehow own your time, she says, you have everything.
(Maybe no one says this out loud because they would rather sell you something or make some money from your time so they can buy something shiny, too. They are definitely not paying you what your time is worth, though, and you know it, so that’s not news.)
What Wise Reem means is that we can be present
together, now, and it will be enough.
In fact, we are doing it here. See how easy that was?
You and I own this moment, or maybe we should say we belong to it.
In either case, here we are, and this is our minute together, just you and me, here, in this place,
connected by that paper in your hands, and taking some breaths. Now, here, breathe.
I would like to ask you to do something for me. Look at the sky. Really. Longer than you want to, until people passing by might think you’ve lost your kite.
Now, look at the earth. Keep looking, and look deep. Can you find a muddy place?
Can you see the sky reflected there?
Michelle says Mona has started putting electrical cables in her bed and wiring a line that goes out her bedroom, down the length of her building (it is a big building in a big city), until it connects to a rod that she pushes into the nearest earth she can find. This is the only way she can sleep at night.
This is called grounding, and, apparently, it is a thing people do.
They mostly do this in big, tight cities, as you might
imagine, because it is hard to touch dirt there.
Luckily for you, we can be grounded together, right
here where we’re standing.
We can be part of the grounding trend.
You don’t have to, but maybe you could take off your shoes, if you don’t mind.
Let’s stand in the mud you found. Or, if you are thinking I have lost my kite right now, we can just stand near it and lean over and smell it and take three deep breaths. If you aren’t standing in the mud, you can sink your fingers into it. We will wash our hands later. Remember building mud castles and mud cakes and having mud on your clothes and having it cake on your skin after a day of playing? Three more deep breaths. When you were playing in the mud were you chasing the future?
Grounding is touching dirt.
To be grounded is to know a place. Being present in a place is political.
Don’t believe them when they try to sell the future to you.
And the past was pretty messy, so we probably shouldn’t get too starry-eyed about that.
Be here, with me, now. Ground yourself, dear one. I’ll be right here, beside you. We’ve got this.
Laura A. L. Wellen is a writer and independent curator based in Guatemala City and Houston. She is the co-founder of the apartment gallery and residency Yvonne in Guatemala and of the Houston-based project Francine. She holds a PhD in Art History and in 2016-2017, she is a writing fellow at the Core Critical Studies Program at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. She is a 2016 recipient of The Creative Capital | Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant for her work in Guatemala.