Outer Hebrides: Transient Spaces

When we were on holiday, I was experimenting with writing in nature–or writing with nature. The ebb and flow of the ocean, having to relent to the power of the water, made me contemplate the ever changing nature of our environment but also our selves. I thought what if we just relent, let go, let go of pain, fear, guild, shame? Let the waves wash them away? Wash away hate. Wash away your sorrow.

I tried to write down the themes that often burden survivors of trauma.
Verlustangst = fear of loosing, usually a loved one
Unzulänglichkeit = the feeling of inadequacy
Pain
Shame
Sorrow
Fear

Then set up a time lapse of the incoming tide washing away the writing in the sand. Wash away the pain. Wash away the sorrow. Wash away the shame.

Outer Hebrides: Washed Away

Long evenings on the beach created an unfamiliar amount of time for introspection, breathing, watching, and then watching some more. The sky, the water, the sand, the animals. At some point the Gospel song ‘Oh Happy Day’ became stuck in my head. Mainly the phrase ‘he washed my sins away’. Exploring issues around trauma, there are some things we have been working with themes, phrases that seem to be taken on by the survivors: such as shame, guilt, worthlessness. In some workings phrases such as: ‘this is not my shame to carry’, ‘I am worth it’, ‘I belong’ became significant. So I tried to remember the main themes and words from this and wrote them in the sand on the beach, and let the ocean wash them away.

Incidentally while I was exploring these issues, the alienating parent called and insisted that the kid needs to be brought home immediately for a life and death medical appointment (literally: you are putting his life at risk). When trying to suggest that surely such an emergency would mean we should bring kid into closest hospital that was refuted. A flight was booked and the alienator flew all the way up to the Outer Hebrides to pick up kid for what turned out to be a routine follow up appointment after a course of antibiotics. Which a) could have waited until the end of holidays or b) could have easily been done at the medical centre, which was literally 10 minutes from the camp-ground. Sharing-agreements here in the UK mean the doctor would have had access to all records and also could have easily consulted with family doctor. Interestingly the alienator called once they had boarded the plane on the way back from holiday, so they were sure they could run through the whole ‘I am the hero’ scenario, and the plane did not have delays and would hamper the narrative. So after being convenient childminders for a week the poor kid was torn away from his dad to play their part in the story of ‘How I save my son from a made-up drama’.

It was on our last evening together, everyone was really sad and we tried to squeeze in as much of the favourite activities as we could. When walking along the beach, we found this heart made of shells. For me this was a sign: love always wins. And I made the little drama installation to ritually wash away the drama for our second week of holiday, the kid had to miss out on.

The other words and film snippets will follow over the next couple of days.

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