“…the sea’s only gifts are harsh blows and, occasionally, the chance to feel strong. Now, I don’t know much about the sea, but I do know that that’s the way it is here. And I also know how important it is in life not necessarily to be strong but to feel strong, to measure yourself at least once, to find yourself at least once in the most ancient of human conditions, facing blind, deaf stone alone, with nothing to help you but your own hands and your own head…” – Primo Levi
Let me just say, I hate this sculpture.
I don’t know where it came from or why it’s there. All I know is that I’ve had to look at it almost every morning for three years. Three years and thankfully not four, as I spent one year in California, which only seems like a dream now.
It is displayed up on a hill that the express bus passes on its run from the South parking lot to campus. Every morning I saw this wretched thing and questioned what it’s supposed to mean. What’s the point of a concrete swing frozen in time? Why is it pale yellow? I don’t know what the actual intentions are for it, but to me it symbolized something very cynical, dark even. Like a warning sign to anyone entering campus, there’s a subliminal message of fruitless efforts, inhibition of joy, and an overall sense of hopelessness. Fruitless efforts for when you’re on a swing but the chains are fixed. Joy of a favorite pastime activity taken away. Knowing that even if the thing were to come to life, you’d only go back and forth indefinitely, until you got off. As of 5/20/16, I got off this swing and walked away.
It must be very hard for others to understand, with the great reputation for “higher education”. I understand this, and I also understand that this is my journey and you have your journey, and there aren’t going to be equivalencies at ever turn. But I mean every word when I say this was the hardest part of my life. To me, this was a time when I was thrown into a dark room with no light and no exit point. It was like being stuck on a road that never ends. I strapped myself into some sort of machine that looked like Kerry, but was not Kerry, and went about my life in the way that was asked of me. I didn’t feel like my life was my own. All efforts I put forth were washed down the drain so consistently that it brought me to the point where I even questioned if there was some divine intervention putting all it’s strength into sabotaging my plans and putting me on an entirely different route. It put a veil between me and the rest of world so that when I went to push, nothing moved. Every visualization of of trying to become something was squandered, and no one who knew me saw it. I don’t know how they could. When you’re moving through a similar medium, and people experience something entirely different from what you are, it is almost impossible for them to put themselves in your shoes, and so on top of everything also came isolation and loneliness.
Thankfully, when I turned away form the world and went inside, I found something. It was Metanoia, a light in the dark, something with potential disguised as something small and ambiguous. It was a seed, and it’s this seed that I’m going to water and nurture from now on.
The human race is dissonance, a cacophony of emptiness. People castrate their consciousness with alcohol, drugs, sex, money, and comfortable routine. Being even just a little disconnected from that in developing years allowed for an authentic emanation of self. This sets me apart more than anything else from my peers. It just may be the disruption in the pattern that made my efforts ineffective here. I found essence, and thats all I want to experience now, untainted by the vibrational garbage drowning it out and forcing it under. I look around to see that family and friends have not been as lucky to have a center. Or am I the unlucky one? Facing the blind deaf stone alone, it sometimes feels like I was placed in some sort of solitary confinement born out of the collective unconsciousness. When you enter, you begin to live another life entirely. Facing the blind deaf stone alone, I’m not accompanied with anyone who has the capacity to see me, or know what it is I’m trying to achieve here. I’m up against so much right now. I’m up against my unconscious peers when I seek enlightenment. I’m up against my genetics which was born out of generations of people who were afraid to take risks and lived comfortably numb, asleep at the wheel as my brother likes to put it. I have no role models, or examples to follow. I have no way of navigation. I have no finances. I only have a vague sense of the home that lies somewhere on the other side of this, far, far away. I desperately want to get there. I am uncertain, but determined, and maybe I needed Stony Brook University for this reason, to be plunged into darkness so that I would no longer tolerate anything but light, and everything that comes with it.
To all those listening, thank you, and I love you.
Artwork credited to Niken Anindita