8:52 PM (3 minutes ago)
Note to whomever may receive this email:
My name is Faith Rhyne and I have a minor history of letter writing. This is a letter for ______ and also for ______ and unmentioned affiliates. It is difficult to know how to contact people, when people do not particularly want to be contacted. I trust that this will be received by somebody, and certainly respect the reasons that this – like so many letters – may not be responded to. However, I hope that whomever receives this appreciates that this is earnest, and – additionally – has a fine day.
I don’t know when exactly it was that I decided that I would not send an update every six months anymore.
(it just started raining.)
I think that the decision, which was less a decision and more just a knowing, came around with a certain fullness in the certainty that, yeah, someday there will be that laughter.
I have constructed a scenario in which I laid out a series of improbable and implausible potentialities, and am currently enjoying the satisfaction of regularly occurring unlikely events.
What was not remotely possible is now entirely possible.
It has been a long time since I have sent an update.
(I just saw a firefly.)
Looking back on old messages, I am still a little surprised by my bravado. I don’t know that I would send such letters now. I probably would. After all, I am sending this one…which is a slightly more polite and mature expansion of that very first message, written from a relatively verifiable reality.
I work for The Icarus Project now, as an organizer and coordinator. I also have been doing consulting with another organization, around trauma-informed peer support and alternative approaches to psychosis, so that more people might have access to options that do not eventually leave their hands shaking so badly that they can no longer play guitar.
I saw that, and it matters to me in a way that fills up my chest, clenches my fists, furrows my brow.
Every Sunday, and sometimes on other days, my kids and I go to a park and swordfight with foam swords. When I started swordfighting, I realized that I was so disconnected from my body that I had to consciously will myself to move my leg if an object was swinging toward it. I am getting quicker though, brave again.
In July, I am showing an installation of cloud photographs and bird sculptures in Vancouver. It is my first “real” show. I have stayed up until the middle of the night lately, stabbing needles through photographic paper, stringing together clouds with golden thread.
I think I spoke cryptically about what I was doing, what I was “figuring”. In the end, I have thousands of pictures of clouds that I can build things with…birds, cities, new skyscapes.
One day, I’d really like to talk with someone about the possibility of answering some of the strange letters that are sent to people who create unexpected beauty and myth in the world, the charismatic phenomenas, whose work and being speak to something true in the heart of the wondrous and wounded.
I am a good letter writer. I respond to many letters for The Icarus Project and strangers who write to me, messages from people expressing all manner of desperate and raw realities. I read their words and I feel them, and I think about how I used to send letters to strangers, blindly reaching out, telling some truth to somebody, because it needed to be told.
The few times that someone wrote back were small salvations, so I always try to write back.
I would like to offer that service somehow, to write back – as a peer support specialist and an artist – to people like me, people who write letters to the people they believe in, the people whose work is a friend in a world that can – at times – feel friendless.
I may resume updates at some point…or contact you periodically, just for the sake of story and potential catalytic activity. If ever you would like to have a conversation about the role of independent arts and media in supporting individuals who are losing their minds in a way that might ultimately transform the dominant and diminishing perceptions of what is real and what is well, for the purpose of stimulating the mechanics of collective liberation and a lot of magic..please do get in touch with me.
I am, at this point, a strange sort of professional.
I am glad that I decided to carry on, to not just be the person who sends a crazy letter about saving the world and then disappears.
Goodnight, always I am harmless and wishing you well,
I have taken pictures of the sky for a long time. Being raised on a river near an ocean, in storm country, orients a person to the sky in ways that bring up the gaze of old captains and fishers.
“Red sky in morning, sailors take warning. Red sky at night, sailors delight.”
I never put much stock in that saying. Red, red mornings have led to clear days, and fire skies in the evening have sometimes been the edge of thunder and rain that tears through the night, no delight in the sound of crashing limbs, the pinging of rain falling into a pot as it drums down, pushing through the roof, relentless in the dark.
For the first 8 years of my life, I could not see clearly. I needed glasses. Nobody knew.
The day I got my first pair of glasses, I could see that the green blur across the river was trees, and I could the edges of clouds, the way they wrote the wind.
I could see the way they moved, how delicately they held light and water.
In the Spring of 2010, I wrote that I liked to watch clouds because they were never the same twice.
Shortly thereafter, I began to see what I saw as repeating formations…w shapes, triangles, certain compositions of negative space, a particular curvature.
At that time, I was experiencing what some people might call “early psychosis” or “emotional crisis.” I found myself very certain of myth and synchronicity, magic and telepathy. These certainties were not a matter of ideas, but of evidence – strange occurrences and wonderful stories of small impossibilities.
Core components of my walking talking world were falling into shambles and chaos. My dog got hit by a car. I had long believed that she was an angel. I was devastated. My family was a mess. A friend ceased talking with me, because I was so damn lonely. I had quit my job. Everything was uncertain and ill at ease…and dull, just so damned dull and almost cliche, in the petty conflicts, the tense conversations about money and priorities, in not being allowed to cry.
When I noticed something peculiar about the sky…in the closeness of the clouds, the way they looked like letters, like eyes…I felt something.
It was a long time before I knew to call it awe. A dance between disbelief and profound conviction that what one is seeing is real, run through with the ice of fear, because what does it mean to suddenly realize that something you weren’t sure was real is very tangibly real? What does it mean to know something in a new way, to understand something in a way that changes everything?
I began to take a lot of pictures of clouds and in the state of engaged observation that I slip into during documentation, I thought a lot and felt a lot…and I’d mutter to myself on the porch, shaking my head, “Are you fucking kidding me…? Show me then…show me.”
Sometimes I’d laugh out loud, and other times tears ran down my face, to see the details of the sky in pictures and stories, in eyes that themselves seemed to weep, with the firmament rolling down itself in rivulets of sun, in the heaviness of a grey.
It wasn’t all beautiful. I saw grim figures and howling mouths. I saw horns and writhing. The dark forms descended and I stared them down. Took their pictures with my breath coming fast and my limbs tingly.
In the middle of the night, I saw a single band of bright gold rise as the moon. ”Someone needs to see this.” I had no one to show it to, that golden ring moon in the north eastern sky, so I called my mother.
She did not look at the moon that night.
I understood that something was happening.
Being a person who has an innate drive to make sense of things, to know how things work and why, I lost my mind trying to determine all the possible reasons and implications of this most phenomenally bizarre set of circumstances, in which I found myself sure that the origins of written language are in the clouds and that it might mean that people have always watched the sky.
I felt like the old gods were rising, pleased to be seen and rewarding me with scenes of animals at play when I paid close enough attention, gathering as storms and winds when my heart broke, saying “We’re here…we’ve always been here.”
These were not appropriate things to be spending time thinking about, not for me, not in my life. For four years, I have been actively balancing a life in between worlds, maintaining multiple realities. I was not allowed to be an artist in the way that I am an artist. Because I was diagnosed as having a mental illness at a young age, my art was always seen as a symptom.
A symptom of what, I wonder?
I am a mother, a professional, and an artist. I have taken thousands of pictures of clouds. I am, slowly, building a world with them. In this world, I will be able to spend what time I want documenting and articulately the forms I see in clouds. I will be able to hit my knees in the middle of a field and to let the full shine of what I see reach into my bones. I will be able to be an artist, and not have to hide my work or joke about my work, or deny my work for fear that I will be deemed “crazy,” suffer the very real consequences of that designation.
I lost legal custody of my children because I lost my mind trying to prove God with clouds.
It is possible to live a complex life, full of complicated truths and a sense of integral vocation, a sense of communing with something bigger than you are. Many people live such lives. It is possible to sort through all the amazement and fear, the weirdness and suspicion, the shock and awe of truth…and to walk around knowing that you have been given a gift and that your gift has a purpose. I refused to recover from my madness. I still refuse.
As an emerging artist, I am able to practice my form of contemplative and reflective spirituality, and to experiment with my understandings of elementary physics and atmospheric sciences. I am able to bear witness to beauty and to share that.
As an artist, none of it is crazy or sick. I can experiment with ways to tell bold truths and not care whether or not they make sense or are deemed justifiable or legitimate by anyone else. I have made a world for myself that allows me to continue to pursue significant conversations about cloud architecture, language, and the mechanics of spirit. In this world, it is totally possible that someday I might be able to go wherever I am called to go, to take pictures of clouds.
As I was working on this piece, my children worked on their own art and there was a happiness in the room. I stay up late. I wake up early. I feed the dogs and go to work.
Driving in my car, I listen to the songs on the radio and I watch the clouds. I let the certainty rise in me, allow myself to believe that, yes, this work I do…it matters. I allow myself to believe that I am not working alone, that I am never working alone.
In my world, I have allies in time travelers and ghosts, in strangers and operatives, in friends and in wind. Small birds carry messages, and remarkable arrangements are made…and none of it is grandiose, at this point, it’s just art and a good story…and goodness knows such things can save the world.