HERE COMES THE SUN
By Lauren McMenemy
The absence of light is not darkness. It’s living numb, existing, waiting for hope that never comes.
Is what we see really real? Or is it just perception?
“We are complicated by the past, by false memories,” says the magician.
It’s been a long cold lonely winter.
Poor Catherine Dickens was abandoned by her husband and his wandering eye. Fredda Brilliant declined Picasso’s commission because he pinched her bum. Dora Carrington’s love was never meant to be, but she couldn’t get over it. Lydia Lopokova was ridiculed by the Set, never to fit in.
What is belonging, anyway?
“It’s not just that behind every man is a great woman,” admonishes the guide. “It’s that the women are there anyway, just as successful; we need to shine a light on them.”
“The path of the just is as the shining light,” proclaims the medic’s statue. Women in the shadows of history, of past and present. Shine a light.
It’s about intimacy. Slow down, take your time. Make your mark. Democratise creativity: it’s accessible to everyone. Creativity is therapy. Creativity brings light to the darkness. Creativity takes that torch and shines it into the deepest, darkest crevices of the mind to lure out the shadows.
“It’s not just information; it’s a conversation between artist and voyeur,” whispers the lecturer. And–
It seems like years since it’s been here.
BUT: Think about the provenance of what you’re doing in the name of wellness. Honour what’s come before. Leave the cultural appropriation to the colonial past. We are better than that. Palo Santo. Namaste.
Elsewhere, the forest is tranquil. Beautiful. Calming. Green. Dark. Babbling and shrieking and glorious nature. Shinrin-yoku. Face to the canopy, drink it all in. Nature heals all. Feel the feelings, let them pass through you like clouds in the sky.
“Tell stories filled with facts,” writes Octavia E. Butler. “Make people touch and taste and KNOW. Make people FEEL! FEEL! FEEL! So be it! See to it!”
Here comes the sun.
Joy is connected to heightened emotional states such as ecstasy, euphoria and pleasure. Their feelings can pass quickly, often leaving us wanting more.
Altruistic behaviour has been found to increase in times of adversity.
Our collective trauma is not over yet; shake it out, shake it off.
A life without pleasure – anhedonia – seems meaningless to many.
“Life was good. I had a good time,” says Shrigley’s skeleton.
Is there a way out, over, beyond?
Here comes the sun.
The tarantella is an Italian folk dance. Women, seemingly bitten by a spider, feel sickness and fatigue before becoming catatonic. Musicians play uplifting melodies with an increasing tempo until the victim begins a frenzied dance and the poison is lifted.
The whirling dervish spins in a joyous trance to get closer to god.
The facial expression can hide as much as exhibit true feelings.
Is what we see really real? Or is it just perception? Whose perception?
Smile, though your heart is aching. When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by.
“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way,” said Arundhati Roy. “On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”
And I say.
What is joy?
Dappled sunlight scatters a thousand sorrows.
The art of being happy lies in turning it up to 11.
Dancing with abandon is the greatest blessing.
Buying too many books is the aim of human existence.
It’s all right.
Photograph taken at Joy at Wellcome Collection by Lauren McMenemy.