Waves of Thoughts
By Amanda Fe Echevarria
I was alone in my sister’s car on Christmas eve. There was a quiet bubbling of guilt that gradually intensified until it felt like a wave crashing over me. I sobbed. It was my first Christmas away from my son. I felt like I failed my son somehow. I am a Filipina, doing an artist in residency program at The Rotorua Arts Village. I am also a solo parent. Visa delays meant my son could not travel with me. Thank heavens for grandparents.
I had to do some introspection and dissect the guilt that overwhelmed me. This rush of emotion felt like a tidal wave…a tidal wave that crashed into the shores of my art studio. This spilling over of negative emotions ushered the creation of my art piece. Emotions are like waves, fluid, formless, and in constant flux. Never placid. My work is the encapsulation of how formless our thoughts can be. I attempt to capture its endless ebb and flow. My piece speaks of how I was engulfed by this wave of guilt and how I learned to ride it instead of it crashing into me. Surfers learn to surf by learning the ways of the sea. I too had to learn. Where did this emotion come from? What accusing internal dialogue fueled it? I came into a realization that I have always doubted my ability to mother. I have accused myself many times that I was failing. I justified these accusations by allowing this externally imposed idea of what a perfect mother should be. We all know this. She’s that woman who can clean the bathroom and emerge pristine, with coiffed hair and not a speck of grime on her immaculate face. How can you compete with that? How unrealistic! Thus, I had to sit down and think about what motherhood really means. After arriving at my own definition, I couldn’t help but exclaim, “Hey! I’m actually a pretty good mom!”. I changed my internal script. I rode this wave…victorious.
In my artist residency, I attempted to give my students an opportunity to engage in this kind of introspection and catch their waves….and hopefully figure out how to ride it. It is an uncomfortable process since at one point or another, you’ll have to face yourself…the good, the bad and the ugly. Riding their waves meant they also have to change a negative internal script. They have to rephrase these into positive ones and find creative ways to put it in their works. We still have a few more sessions to go but I’m excited to see the surfers in my class.
…and oh! My son arrived a week ago.
Images: Helen, a student in my class, taking photos of her work in progress.
Images: Artist/Teacher Amanda’s work in progress