‘A Leap of Faith’ by Dominika Hadelova

On the Road, Uncategorized August 5, 2016

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The future is dark, which is the best thing the future can be, I think. Virginia Woolf.

I draw, I write – the two processes are the same to me; they help me to understand, to make connections. I have no objection to showing the drawings, but when it comes to writing I feel I don’t have the entitlement to write. I mean, publically. I don’t know the rules, English is not my first language. I write about feelings, not facts.

Writing is personal and challenging, yet I find it very gratifying – because it helps me to understand.

I hope that by being personal I can be general too, that someone will relate and we can have a conversation.

I sit in an open-air bar of an art institute in Athens. I came here to take part in an exhibition. I am thinking about how satisfying it is to watch the whipped milk and coffee mix when poured over ice cubes in a glass. I am thinking about the morning hot yoga class I have gone to where the teacher was like the embodiment of vanilla ice-cream and sex. I am thinking about how I feel disconnected from my life here, or perhaps more connected to it, to living. I am also thinking about how I am moving to Paris in two weeks and I do not feel anything extraordinary.

I am moving to Paris in two weeks.

Moving. To clarify – to live.

Paris is a place that I grieved for and missed, the same way that you miss someone that you have madly fallen in love with. It was a summer love. The heat. The apricots. The night air filled with freedom. I lost myself there and found a part of me that was missing.

I am moving to Paris in two weeks. I had made the decision.

For quite a while I thought that it would be impossible for me to live there, I was stuck. It was like standing at the edge of a cliff. Try to imagine looking at the pale blue water below. You can feel the tingling of your feet. You decide yes, I will jump and then you take two steps back. Again. Being in that moment of limbo was freezing and paralysing so I jumped. I had made the decision. Over time something clicked in my head and all the question marks about finding a flat, finding a job, having enough money, not speaking the language; all these questions that people ask me today – they all somehow became irrelevant. When I decided the only thing that mattered was the first step.

Telling the landlord.

I still find it amusing that this year is the year of the fire monkey. Fire brings destruction, destruction brings change. It is the year when great changes are meant to happen.

I jumped. We jumped. I remember the exact moment. It was an evening in October or November, Michal and I were in the spare room of our flat in Scotland. I had turned that room into my temporary studio after graduating; there was a wobbly desk from Argos, a chair I found on the street, an IKEA side table with papers piled up, two surfboards packed in a silver travel bag and a clothes horse with slowly drying clothes. I could never make any actual artwork there. He had just come back from work and was leaning against the wall. I was having one of my emotional monologues of how much I missed Paris, didn’t know what to do with my life and did not want to live here anymore. Actually, I never really wanted to live here, I always knew I would leave. First, it was after a year, then maybe after another two and suddenly I stayed for five. My monologue eventually turned into a dialogue and I remember saying: ‘So are we really moving to Paris?’ He said yes.

It was a reassuring yes – which was maybe only confident on the face of it, back then he probably did not believe this any more than I did but it was the one push I needed to move – forward.

Sometimes we all need a bit of a wall, even if it is just a Potemkin wall.

We are moving to Paris in two weeks.

All of our friends know that we are going, our families know, even some people I served at a restaurant know. They all see us as those who are moving to Paris. To me, it feels as if someone else is doing it.

Someone else – not me.

I hoped that packing would make this feel more real but it did not. It is a mechanical process, the desire to go is way stronger. Only two photos brought up any kind of emotion. I put them aside to think about them later.

The first one is of Michal at a beach in India, with dripping-wet dark hair and an amulet dangling on his neck. We ‘bargained’ that thing a few days prior in Hampi. The photo brought back a lot of fond memories of our holidays in India but not of the specific place where it was taken.

The place was Mangalore. The place was where we got stuck.

There were no connecting buses that day so we ended up staying in a lodge – with cockroaches and workers throwing up (or what sounded like throwing up) in the corridor. We decided to go for lunch to an expensive restaurant in a walled-off hotel with a pristine pool. I don’t remember why I thought that this would make us feel better about the whole situation, of course, it did not. The restaurant was empty the whole time and the food was equally without life. So we walked to the beach where the photo was taken, only to find out it was being used as a public toilet. We bought a bottle of Bacardi, mixed it with Coke and took turns in drinking this from the cutoff top of the plastic bottle. We had an argument and went to sleep not speaking to one another. It was the darkest moment of our trip.

The second was a photo of the Battersea Station. I took the photo the day I arrived in the country five years ago; the time when London to me was the place where men were polite, houses were beautiful, everything was exciting and the Battersea Station was a notion. I tried to remember how I felt back then when I was moving. I don’t remember much, I have the feeling that it was the same feeling then as the way I am feeling now. I didn’t feel anything up until the point when I was at the airport looking at my then boyfriend at the other side of the passport control, I do not think that what I was doing fully penetrated my awareness. I finished high school, travelled to El-Hajeb, went to the summer festival, ate ice-cream; then I packed my one suitcase and was gone.

For five years. A major change. Jump.

Peachy memories and nostalgia of this nineteen-year-old girl arise, even though I know that all was not great there and then. I wonder what I am going to remember this place for, because now I remember it for – I knew I never wanted to live in this place. All this will soon be a closed chapter, a string to be cut loose.

I closed a lid of the box.

A breathwork class, which I went to in Los Angeles this spring, comes to my mind. The teacher said that the most important and hardest thing is to show up. Is that true? Is it really true that the hardest thing is to make ourselves come to the class, to go out of the door for the morning run, to buy the long-distance flight ticket, to say the first word to a stranger, to say this is a break up out loud – basically to jump, to get over that tipping point, the threshold? Is it true, that the rest just follows and we get to follow?

Perhaps yes. Starting takes the fear away. After we act, we want to make it work. There was a lot of fear in my head before I jumped. Fear of the unknown, of the possible scenarios. Fear that exists only in our minds and the future, not in the actual.

The truth is that we are all afraid, every day, but we can’t let it overtake our mind. Yesterday my friend Eduardo talked about his friend who is afraid of flying. He had a great point – that being afraid is self-centric. If you take yourself out of the equation the fear will go and you will feel part of the greater. He also said, ‘Being afraid never helps, it is an energy wasted’. An energy that could be used on something else.

I believe that in some ways I am used to the process of walking into the unknown, of walking in the dark. I look for a sentence from Rebecca Solnit’s Faraway Nearby: Creation is always in the dark because you can only do the work of making by not quite knowing what you are doing, by walking into darkness, not staying in the light. When drawing, when writing, when working in the studio – I am always second-guessing myself, I mostly do not know what the result will be, I do not always know why I do it. I just keep telling myself that I have to keep going and trust myself, trust the inner knowledge, we could call it intuition here. I believe it is like a muscle and the more we act on it, the stronger it gets.

Example –

I went to a crystal shop here in Athens, with the mind to buy a crystal or mineral if I would feel strongly attracted to it; believing that it might be the one I need in my life right now. I kept coming back to this glassy green angular crystal. Only now I am reading about it. Fluorite, latin fleure for flow, helps to restore balance and harmony in a time of chaos, calms worried thoughts and conflicting ideas, clears negative energy, confusion and mental fog. The day I bought this fluorite was a day when installing the show. Last minute. Sweat. Short sentences. Tension bubbling.

I realise that I have gone far without even realising and now I cannot turn back.

I had jumped.

I imagine I am now in the state of the fall. In a void – full of possibilities, unknowing and freedom.

Perhaps this is also why I do not feel anything extraordinary. It is the stage of fall. The void. The in-between.

I think of Yves Klein and his leaps

Come with me into the void,

he would say.

I am not delusional. I know it will be hard. I know I might fail, maybe more than once. But if I didn’t jump – did not go, I would be always wondering what would have happened, what possibilities have I turned down. It felt like a door opened for me, so obviously, I felt so passionate about this – If I did not follow this I would have betrayed myself. The part inside that was telling me to go. It might not make sense now, but I believe that when we stay truthful to ourselves, we cannot go wrong. We must have faith.

It is the state of fall. Changes are happening, things are crumbling and I know that fighting them now would not help. Only when we hit the water will it be time to pick up the pieces that are left then start from there. Maybe those will be the pieces that are the truest to us and are meant to stay in our lives.

I do not feel afraid.

I look forward to the time of exploring, wandering, getting lost, the time of becoming.

It is a step into the dark.

It is a great leap.

It is the leap of faith.

Words by Dominika Hadelova
Cover image by Johannes Huwe (via our Flickr pool)

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