My mom passed away six years ago from a very rare form of lung cancer. At the time of her death, our relationship was strained, defined by the hurt and pain of misunderstandings that followed my coming out as gay two years before that — we never quite saw eye to eye. She passed without us mending our relationship, throwing me into a depression that lasted years.

After her death, I began a journey of healing that took several years before I was able to find peace and happiness. Even though my mom wasn’t here anymore, I could still hear her disappointed voice in my head, a voice that kept me from doing what made me happy. I was unnecessarily hard on myself, self-destructive, struggling to live with the imbalances and incongruities inside of me. But I persisted on my journey, meditating and “talking” to my mom in my mind. And after a few years, I finally knew she was proud of me — I finally knew that a Soul only knows love.

One year ago, I attended a silent retreat to celebrate my mom’s five-year death anniversary, which was just a few days away. I felt extremely close to her the entire week. I had been fervently searching for a new path, one that would let me do what I was called to do in this life, and I desperately wanted her help. One day during meditation, I had a vision of myself using an unfamiliar sort of sign language to ask my mom, “What should I be doing?” She quickly responded, also signing in this language, “You’re already doing it.” Intense emotion immediately washed over me, and the realness of the encounter overwhelmed my senses. I still cannot fully describe this experience, but it is so vivid to me even after a year has passed.

In the solo, “Mom, I Can Hear You,” you will see the use of sign language created through conversations with my mom. This solo recreates that moment of being able to hear her, see her, and feel her as strongly as if she was physically here with me again. This piece explores different approaches to the sign language received and the importance of these messages to my journey. The movement quality plays with ideas of floating in water or being suspended without gravity, using the least amount of effort to make seamless gestures. The solo is short, staying true to the immediacy and realness of the visitation from my mom — brief, but nevertheless transformative.

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By mike