The other day Esmé took a very long late afternoon nap in bed with me…napping midday is a pretty unusual thing for her to do these days. But I guess she was just exhausted from all of the to-do with the holidays.
Anyway, when she woke up she and I joined André in the living room where he had started watching The Artist is Present, a documentary on performance artist Marina Abramovic. Esmé was immediately drawn to the image of this artist on the television as footage of her performances played on the screen–intense, emotional pieces that make you question social assumptions, physical boundaries, and essential human fears.
Ez watched for a moment, with a focus typically reserved for the very best episode of Yo Gabba Gabba (the episode is Band, in case you were wondering).
And then she laughed.
I wasn’t totally startled by this. Since she was very young Ez has had a habit of giggling in the midst of the expression of intense emotions in person and on television. What I was surprised by was that she was transfixed with this woman on the screen…and reacting to an emotional intensity that many might define as being rather “conceptual.”
She seemed to have a visceral connection with this powerful and intense woman.
André and I laughed “Maybe she’ll be a performance artist?”…adding it to the list of future careers we have planned for Esmé: dentist (per her fixation with the insides of mouths), contortionist, mayor, tiny dictator, director (of anything really), toy taste-tester, lion tamer (see dentist above)…
But it got me thinking about Esmé…how life with her is a bit like an ongoing, life-long piece of performance art. Art created with Esmé as the artist and the rest of us playing the part of the participating audience–excited and nervous about where this all is going, eager to play our role…as Esmé shows us something deeper, forces us to ask difficult questions about life, demonstrates the unlikely, the bizarre, the impossible, the uncomfortable over and over again, strips away the complexities of relationships–leaving only love and presence,
And somehow, when I look deeply into Esmé’s eyes–as she and I have been doing often lately–I do not think that these lessons are by chance (whatever that might mean). With Esmé when you consider all of the pain she has endured, the determination she needs to achieve the inchstones along the way (ones I know I never expected to see)–when you consider the neurological storms we see passing through her brain and how she constantly redraws the lines of safety–it all seems super-human.