Art and Power «Defined»


Power.  My notion of what power is has changed a lot in the last two or three months.  It has become more favorable and less formidable, less threatening.  I still believe there is a sinister element that I associate with the word “power,” but in the last I don’t know how many weeks, I have begun to think about power in a more positive way.

I jumped.  I abandoned the place where I had worked for eighteen years.  The truth is that I miss my students there, and I also miss some esteemed colleagues who I still hold dear.  I also miss some aspects of the building, but I am happy with my decision to go to a new school.  I am delighted with my new colleagues and students and I am enjoying the challenges of learning the systems in my new workplace.  After many years of living with fear, the anxiety that I have going to work each day has diminished significantly.  This is power.  To feel as if you are drowning in life and, suddenly, fo find the courage to make a great change and be able to breathe again…to find the air that you were lacking and live better.

So, right now, to me power is more “having the ability to do something” rather than “conquering” or “dominating”.  Certainly, I still realize that these definitions exist and I see and still suffer from the abuse I endured in the past years, but there is no doubt that I see everything with more optimism and less terror now.

Power is the kitten that purrs on my lap as I write this essay.  Once in awhile she, Octavia, awakes a little bit and invites me to pet her.  She makes me smile.  Power is bumping into a friend in the supermarket and learning that she, too, has changed jobs and is also much happier at work and in life now and being able to celebrate our renewed outlook for a moment.  Power is a photo circulating on the internet of a football player eating lunch with an autistic boy.  Power is to be presented to an artist by a writer as a “poet”.  Power is finding and using your voice.  Power is a group of students and teachers enduring driving rains; an infestation of big, shiny beetles; and the challenges of working with wild animals at a wildlife refuge or playing with children in an orphanage all in an attempt to do a little something to make the world a better place.  Power is a community doing all that it can to welcome a refugee family and help this family overcome the pain of the past and find happiness and success in a new country.  Power is deciding how you are going to live, and, sadly, sometimes this means not continuing treatments for cancer. Power is opening yourself to love and finding it in or in an individual or in a friendship and often in both situations.  Power is feeling supported, loved, and capable.

For me, right now, power is inspiring.  That said, I don’t know if I will always write about this word with so much enthusiasm.  I am incapable of ignoring the shadows and bad in the world.  In fact, I am a sensitive person and seeing the ugly aspects of the world bothers me a great deal.  But, today, today I’m going to define power like this:

Power is hate.  It is rancor and disdain.  It is fear and depression and nightmares.

Power is love.  It is friendship and affection.  It is valor and happiness and dreams.

Power is collaboration.  Power is taking risks.  Power is believing in others and believing in yourself.  Power is sharing and trusting.  Power is love.  Power is creation.  Power is hope. Power is being bold. Power is doing.  Power is living.

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