This year I built a tipi for Open Studios, more correctly I should say, I asked for one and the universe gave it to me, via my friend Justin. I look around and wonder if things are possible and often times it’s friends who show me that yes, in fact, another world is possible. It’s not the big revolutionary world of possible politics; it’s the first step stuff, the challenge to change the right here, right now of my own few feet.
So, Justin put up the poles, lashed the ropes and made the right knots, while I…thought of fabrics and what would hang on the inside. The 9mm shell I found on the roof in Bushwick? Check. The small disco ball pulled from a ceiling at an underground (literally) club? Check. All sorts of chosen items made it into the tipi, including the poems I’d written recently and the prints I’ve been making since 2008. All piled in, a sparse, minimal collection of emotion, experience and spiritual yearning and so came to life, my very own poetry tipi.
Living the life
For two weeks now I’ve slept most nights I can inside the tipi. I keep the floor clean and I roll out my sleeping bag. Sometimes I cover the opening with a blanket for privacy, looking out at the common space of the studio at all hours of day and night, peering at the kitchen table or out at the sky. The two cats of the house are known to join me, so it’s possible to have six eyes sort of just…looking out into the world.
In these two weeks of the tipi I have had strangers come and sleep inside with me. I’ve had friends gather with me too, in late night sessions where we plan our next adventures or where someone makes music. Sometimes, we float away in the simple illusions that a flowery structure made of silks and pretty colors can induce. We know it’s illusion, this tipi isn’t even close to weather proof, it offers no safety as a structure. What the tipi gives us is our sense of lost wonder, not at our great building abilities in the here and now, but in recalling every fort, tent and castle we ever built as kids. Of course, I am now pricing out good canvas fabric, so the next tipi can stand some weather and make some global rounds.
Every big picture starts with something small. Every revolution of self, every turn of the calender actually occurs incrementally. Sleeping inside the tipi reminds me of this and so I highly recommend it. Here are five specific reasons why I think a tipi in the house or backyard can be a quick help in resetting some of our widely held beliefs.
- Sleeping on the floor reminds you that we’re all travelers, campers and squatters on this earth
- A small space gets disorganized quickly, dealing with this reminds us to go after the clutter and the hidden corners of the mind
- Living inside a circle instead of a square, at least part of the day, is a great way to inspire yourself to “think outside the box”
- Consider your flexibility in mind and body, are you too brittle to do this? The tipi requires you to loosen up.
- It could be a yurt or an A-frame, the point is not to appropriate or idealize a lifestyle; it’s to remind you of possibilities, or your desire to adventure and to make a world according to your dreams.
My tipi experience has been pretty spectacular, coming on the heels of my 4oth birthday. In it I’ve cried, meditated and done some very crude things. I’ve had dinner and wine. I’ve even made more art with more found objects. I’ve contemplated my youth and the fact that despite my lucky genetics, I’m no longer young.
I probably won’t have kids. I probably won’t have a husband. A lot of people’s nightmares are true in my life. Maybe I was scared of this, too. Sometimes I just sigh…
Inside the tipi, it’s me and the two cats staring out at the world, sort of like we would have when I was six. To regain that sense of possibility, to see the smiles and the smirks of others recalling their youth, that has made me remember that all of this, is a vision and all of it passes incrementally until suddenly, in a moment it’s over; all at once. I can’t thank Justin enough…
You can celebrate your impermanence with us at Justin’s show, Visions Did Appear, opening June 21st in Manhattan.