(post written by Kate Marie Cofsky)
The sun struck me from its high seat in the oceanic blue yet parched desert sky, the top of my head emblazoned with a halo. Each strand of waist-length brunette tangles reflected & absorbed the radiance dancing with the breeze sweeping across tall swaying grass stalks. I felt I wore a crown then, as a little girl, settled into the awe and wonder of childlike stillness under the noonday sunshine and, again, now, as a woman, perched upon a rocky precipice overlooking the depths of a gorge one thousand feet deep. Gusty, thermal winds whip across and through my body as if I am a figurehead at sea. The blessing of solar warmth on my skin stokes the fire of my inner glow. “I belong here,” I whisper aloud. “Wherever here is, out of doors, in moving air, awash in daylight.”
I climb down from the craggy boulder back into the cool shade of a juniper. I remember swaying from my grass-lined dirt driveway, tucking myself under the loving arms of one of our apple trees. In that memory, and here under the juniper, the dappled glow of each sun-ray splashes across my flesh, murmuring a vital song: “Going outside is going home.” And in this way I wander, wonder and question how I might continue to cultivate this deep sense of belonging
Posing for hundreds artists, photographers, students, and creative lovers, I’ve been the subject of countless creations. The pretty picture painted here—of sunlight and wind dancing on skin and soul—was not a performance for anyone to witness, to behold for themselves. This is a light shone on what me being me looks and feels like. These memories I share act as a nugget of musing of how being a muse—someone who is sensitive to the pulsating world, daring like a spark, enamored by beauty, internally and externally aware—feels like from the inside out on a regular day for me. I thrive in swimming in being embodied, my life force unfolding in endless awe and wonder. My hands pose, fingers delicately and comfortably outstretched as lilting accents on queue, not painstakingly, but with ease because my touch does this dance of wondrous discovery every day. Dirt-encrusted around the edges, grit-endured, and toned from days of joyous hard labor, my hands still soften easily as light kisses my skin, as the paintbrush touches the canvas, as an eye peeks through a lens.
The truth of loving what I love lives in sensation, ie. the way loamy dirt sinks under the pressure of each footfall and bounces back, an uplifting resiliency underfoot. My whole being sings Rising Appalachia’s: “Caminando, Caminando. Vamos caminando hace en sol.” Each cell in my body in chorus with the crickets & the magnificent tussling whoosh of deer who I can sense, who are nearby. They received a name in Ojibwe oral language by the sound they make with each step through tall grass: “waawaashkeshi.”
Thriving is sound in resonance. Sounds are so rarely symphonic to me if they come in the form of words. So, to live in a thriving state, I must extract myself from the English language and immerse myself in the language of beings with whom I dwell with
on *in* this “Eairth,” a term coined by David Abram to include the precious air of our planet’s atmosphere. Adjusting my own language again by scratching out “on” and replacing it with “in” causally expands my awareness to one that is “of” this spinning orb that we call “home,” breathing in the sweet nectar of existence: oxygen-abundance.
Herein my art lives, in this “of-ness,” breathing, exchanging, and, thus, thriving in the surging contraction and expansion of all the rhythms of Eairth: seasonal transitions from cool and windy to sweltering and steamy back to crisp and breezy, and so on. Shifting weather patterns within the span of a day, dappling rays of light through popcorn clouds swimming in the soup of atmosphere overhead delivering a sprinkle. My body cycles alongside the transit of our solar and lunar bodies; day and night eclipses; midday, sunrise, and sunset skies. I dream of the pace of an acorn transforming into a burgeoning seedling to sapling to the steady-though-imperceptibly-expanding soaring sentinel—a mighty oak living on what we might call “tree-time.” And on and on. The layers of intra-being connectedness rises—each bird-chirp-song, ribbit-song, howl-song, screetch-song, tree-creak-song, grass-sway-song, cloud-sweep-song interlays, interweaving symphonies of unfolding existence alongside my own.
A last song pours through me, my musing body in rhythm with my voice such as waves do, spilling across the last expanse of shallow on the seashores:
“Now I remember
that I am a prayer
on my ancestor’s breath
Now I am spinning
and turning around
to walk forward
We are giving our breath back
back to the earth.”