what inspires you?
“I don’t know.” Those three words are a source of endless inspiration.
“I don’t know” is a beautiful thing. It is where discovery can begin. To say those three short words is powerful and raw. Although, culturally admitting or acknowledging the act not ‘knowing’ is equated with unintelligence or weakness, I truly believe that it is the exact opposite. To not know is to be free. It is to embrace, to learn, to growth, or to just be.
I joke that I’m a post-modernist feminist, who likes murder mysteries, jigsaw puzzles and getting lost in libraries and nature, but even as a young girl, I loved the unknown. My favorite book was The Wizard of Oz but unlike most kids, it wasn’t because of enchanting characters, bright colors or catchy songs. Dorothy embraced the unknown. She didn’t know what was going to come next on the yellow brick road, however, she had the courage and desire to find out. In doing so, she was able to move forward towards her goal of reaching the Emerald City (p.s. I also liked The Secret World of Og and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe for similar reasons).
I was fascinated by space, because to look up in the nights sky and have no clue what was actually up there was and still is enthralling.
When I give seminars and lecture, I often relate the concept of ‘dark matter’ to the human body, because we really ‘don’t know’. When I launch myself into a new research project, I joke that I go down the ‘rabbit hole.’ Unlike in Alice and Wonderland, there is nothing bizarre or confusing about this abyss. Alone between stacks of musty books, an array of unorganized research papers and surrounded by mind maps, I feel completely free. I feel safe, and welcome. I am in a trance, and on a quest to ‘solve’ the world’s mysteries, or give perspective and voice to the taboo, the stigmatized and othered.
What is your attitude and approach to creativity?
Somedays I feel like I’m a detective,
other days a story teller –
but each and every day, I am so thankful to be in the position to ‘do’ knowledge – to discover, reshape and translate it.
Although there is something absolutely magnificent about exploring something new – providing a critical consciousness to that which was previously unquestioned is breathtaking. Especially when it comes creating awareness and dialogue about to the skeletons in society’s closet.
For centuries, science and medicine have tried to define the undefinable human body. We’ve applied meaning to things that cannot be explained, the unique was generalized and benign judged. If only along the way someone would have said, “I don’t know”. Maybe then the world would be a different place today.
That’s one of the things I find most intriguing about history. So many consider history to be the ‘known’. From geographical locations to social constructs, physiological functions to you and me – much of the world we live in has been measured, manipulated, explored and defined. Yet the thing is, history is messy. It’s not linear like we were taught in school. It’s complex, complicated and it’s embedded in all of us. It’s in our movement, voices and minds. It’s inscribed in every facet of culture. Arguably, throughout the ages the human body has been the source of the excruciating attention.
As a researcher, and a practitioner working with the body, building knowledge is my passion, but the unknown is my muse.
What is the change you'd like to see in this world?
Compassion, acceptance and engagement.
We live in a binary, where things are defined by absolutes, and ‘realities’. These ideas hold power, and both influence and regulate much of our world. They define every ounce of our being, from telling us how to act, talk and think, to what our skin color, age, and sex are. They give some people wealth and health, while reduce others to nothing. Yet, these ideas are unquestioned, and accepted as nothing more than the ‘truth’.
However, life is not a binary.
It’s a complicated web of continuum’s and interactions of the past, present and future. Acknowledging, understanding and applying this notion I think would have the capacity to create endless change.
We all have the ability to help cultivate positive social change. In my opinion, it must begin with compassion for ourselves and others, acceptance of the unknown, and engagement in critical thought. It also requires understanding that change is not linear. It’s flowing, dynamic, full of multiplicities and complexities. It’s a consortium of ideas – both productive and destructive.
I see social change like a river. Everyone wants to be the waterfall – the big and bold movement before a redirection of flow; however, we don’t put enough emphasis or thought to the actions required before the cascade. The seemingly small and insignificant run-offs that turn into streams. The brooks that become creeks, that join together to become a small river. Only then, can a small river get enough momentum and size to turn into a waterfall.
Culturally, I don’t feel like we think enough about the foundation required to create change. We don’t see how our day to day thoughts and actions are a part of a much bigger force – an interconnected network of power. All to often, the focus is on the top. It’s on making big actions like changing political policy to be more inclusive, or throwing millions at conflict in an attempt to stop it. But, for much needed change to combine with even the most pressing topics such as race, gender, and class, we need to start with profound small actions that still acknowledge the context in which they are situated in.
For me, this isn’t a top down or bottom up approach. Instead, it’s about fostering a critical consciousness. Developing moral awareness and engaging in responsible critical dialogue. It’s making active efforts to reflect upon, and construct a personal place within the broader social and historical context – while building knowledge in order to create individual power, and helping others to do the same.
It may sound a little existential and esoteric, but the thing is, it’s actually rather simple.
Develop a strong sense of who you are and why you do the things you do. Question, explore and don’t take things for face value. Peel back the layers of even the most mundane and trivial. Think about the big – the past, and how we, us, them and you got to today. Learn, grow and do good, then pass it on.
To be stronger than even the biggest forces and make change, will require compassion, acceptance and engagement for the big, small and beyond.