Reaching Out to the Universe

5 Apr

If within the sacred fence,

A thousand cherry trees

Burst into bloom,

Those who planted them will flourish.

Poem 2732 from the Gyokuyoshuy (Bun’ei era, 1264-1274)

Last Wednesday, I participated in an Evening of Solidarity with Japan, organised by the actress Celia Endlicher. We had been asked for an artistic contribution that expressed solidarity, in an effort to raise money to donate to the Red Cross. To dedicate an evening to the people I love in Japan, and to those million I don’t know, – to reach out to the universe – with my art, is one of the most powerful ways in which an artist can turn their work into a tool for the greater good.

I was deeply moved and immediately offered to give a reading performance. With the help of my good friend Christoph Dannowski (his fantastic art here), three writings were translated into German: Infinity, Are You With Me?, My Personal Japan and The Nuclear Poet.

It was a powerful evening, for it dove into and swam in the current of our emotions. The quiet beauty of a Cherry Blossom Dance. The silent energy of mourning as the shakuhachi (Japanese flute) played an ode to the victims. The communicating madness of a butoh dance. We sailed high on the winds of beauty, then we sank and stank in the pits of despairs. We felt helpless, we felt omnipotent, we felt wretched, we felt beautiful.

Before I stepped onto the stage, I realised that I’m never nervous before a performance because I don’t perceive it as me who is performing. This is the performance of my words. And the fact that I am on stage with them means nothing, because I am standing behind them.

With that in mind, I walked onto the pale wooden stage. Here’s a video of “Der Nukleare Dichter” (“The Nuclear Poet”):

After my first appearance on the stage, I couldn’t shake the fact that somehow, in some way, we were doing something important. When I had first explained the event to a friend, I had joked: “Well we’re not going to hold hands and sing Kumbaya for world peace!”

But even if we weren’t moving the universe, we were certainly moving each other.

My last performance that night was reading “Mein Persönliches Japan” (“My Personal Japan”).

Towards the end of the reading, I began to feel my dear friend in Tokyo. I felt her within me, like an enchantment. She glowed strongly in my heart like an apparition, like a blessing, and my entire being burned with emotion. I just made it off the stage before I started crying.

Now came the end of the evening. A singer and guitarist asked us all to join them on the stage. The singer then explained: “We’re going to sing a song dedicated to water, bearing in mind the increasing radioactivity of the water in Japan. The song we will sing is normally sung in Africa, in Nigeria, and is dedicated to Yemaya, the Yoruba goddess of water.”

As the audience and the performers sang, each verse growing louder and more powerful, I was so deeply moved that I continued to weep. Personally, if I were to consider any country on this fine planet my home, it would be Nigeria. Why, of all the songs to end this evening with, were we singing an African song, never mind a Nigerian song??! I am no believer of coincidence. I believe this was a message:

I had wanted to somehow reach out to the people in Japan and send them my love. To this, the Universe replied with a song from my home. It was a gift of love, for all the love we had sent out that night was somehow coming back to wrap us in its warm embrace.

I felt as though I had reached out to the Universe, and in this song, I could feel it reaching back to me.

Sometimes, the Universe replies quietly, and if we are sensitive, we will pick up on it.

All said: we raised € 700 for the Red Cross, which will support their aid in Japan. Thank you to everyone who participated and donated, and raised the Love Energy on our planet! And now a final chuckle: I guess we sort of ended up singing Kumbaya after all.

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One Response to “Reaching Out to the Universe”

  1. nankas April 6, 2011 at 9:22 pm #

    Language, has no barriers…and neither does the landscapes and bodies of water on this planet we ALL have the privilege to share. Just as we all see the same sun and look up at the vast sky, so can we share the same human connection through words and art.

    Now this world we have kicked in the stomach and silenced to listen to us, obey and provide anything we request. I strongly related to your our piece ” My Personal Japan” having friends in Japan also I know too. It is hard for me to hear and watch the news and not question the romanticism of suffering and loss that if there are political agendas behind the coverage.

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