Oct 11, 2014


World Trade Towers by Sherry Mills #1World Trade Towers Sky by Sherry Mills #2

I was just going through a stack of old snaps I’d taken with my film camera back in my early days in NY. I took these photos where I was living in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, on the morning of 9/11. My friend and roommate had just learned that she was pregnant with her first child, and was out jogging; it was my Dad’s birthday; and I couldn’t understand the tension I was feeling about getting dressed for work. Prior to being alerted, of course, to what was happening just across the river.

I went to the rooftop. Moving my camera from the point of terror upward, I found myself shooting the soft and haunting abstracts of a sky whose crystal blue gradient was quickly, but quietly, being taken over by an aggressive courtship with brown, and with the off-white of only those things that are sick…

As a standalone shot (as with all things abstracted from their original sources of muck or stain) what really is happening here in this second shot as a resulting gem of this – the greatest blindside in our country’s experience – but a gorgeous pastel form? One I’m almost inclined to have printed on some bed sheet from a print-on-demand company soliciting from my inbox, so that I might wrap myself in the celebration of being a breathing, seeing enigma in a sea of breathtaking compositions emerging from even the harshest of tragedies. And stay wrapped in that, often.

I am willing to soak in the beauty that is the result of being blindsided. And I know about being blindsided.

Yet if I could feel this openhearted sensitivity about the skyline’s beauty on 9/11, why could I not arrive at that abstract bed sheet of smiles more easily when blindsided by betrayal in more personal a form? Why could I not abstract my inner experience into pleasant cool tones when I was dough laid out for cookie cutters ordered against my will – to not only change my original shape – but to bake those changes into place?

Why is it that I was more demolished by personal betrayal than by betrayal of country or of even the hurting Earth at large that sustains my very life-form, so war-ridden, so overpopulated, so polluted, so water-deprived, so diseased? Am I not compassionate or empathetic enough? Am I small and selfish… is that what it is….

Or has the world not caught up with the notion that outward results are born of inner world experiences, straight on down to the smallest of transgressions? Is it not that personal acts, when added up over a culture, define that culture and the karma planted in it, entirely, and not even partly?

Taking someone to dinner who is not your partner, for example, when the intent of such an encounter is clear – whether hotel ensues thereafter or not – is a breach of trust enough to cripple any relationship. A breach can happen in the glint of an eye over a dinner roll.

No matter one’s unaddressed wounds playing their stories out inside, no matter the depth of the void that one fears facing with courage – that ultimately produces such breaches – these transgressions inevitably accumulate within as something that is at first like dust, almost avoidable; then like directionless steps; then like falls on those same stairs; and they will finally end up choking one in the tracks of what looks like a fresh start relationship, a year or two down the road from its inception. All the pillow shams fall off the exterior and the truth begs to emerge, and that truth ends up vomiting all over such a relationship.

I spent a decade as a bright plastic peg in a Candyland game. But relationship isn’t supposed to be a game, and its participants are not pawns. It is a mirror. So if you’re possessed by mind tricks in your relating and you think that’s supporting your finding happiness, you look very, very foolish in that mirror.

Blinders blindside, after all. I am done with them. I like playing without the games.

And I have a secret.

This secret shows up like my very self, minus the game board residue, minus the brown smoke, minus the tap dance on eggshells I am letting die from within me slowly. Like the middle school music class recorder that eventually finds its way into the closet: Its sounds were sharp; there are more soothing instruments out there…

My secret is as ripe in the heart as I am. My secret knows pastel. My secret sings. My secret is 9/12. See if you can figure it out.

Because I’ve never liked withholds, after all…

When You’re Blindsided © Sherry Mills. 2014. NY.

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  1. Giampaolo says:

    schockink & striking…..

  2. Giampaolo says:

    shocking; striking…..

  3. Judy Hages says:

    What incredible writing!!!!! The pictures……the language……the openness of sharing your life’s experience with the world with amazing rhetoric………..I salute you, dear Sherry. I know how you feel. Judy Hages

  4. unfortunately beautiful. beautiful in its expression. unfortunate in that, yes, the personal is political.
    well, maybe fortunate in the aspect of its being seen here, and in your work and voice… and not withheld. love you.

  5. When you believe and trust someone, it hurts more because they aren’t ruled by choas and chance like things and events at large in the universe. You make a universe with someone to feel safe. You create the laws of that universe and define its boundaries. If you walked up on your building and saw the sky split open and ammonia spilled out and filled the world with a poison, you might feel similarly betrayed. Selfish small people do not wonder if they are selfish, and your many acts of creation would not be possible if it were true.

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