Oceans Ignited: A Narrative on Love, Psychology & Spirit.
By Sarah Muehlbauer
The other night I woke up in a sweat, my nightclothes twisted around my body.
I couldn’t remember what I’d been dreaming about, but it must’ve been either really good or really bad. I got up for a glass of water, and caught my face in the mirror. It was me, of course — I knew that. But for a second I saw my grandmother — not as I knew her from life, but from photographs.
My family always told me I looked so much like her, and I always thought it was a shame that we never really spoke.
Ten minutes later I was back in bed, and what felt like ten minutes after that, my alarm clock rang. They say that if you want to recall your dreams, you should keep your eyes closed after waking, trying to focus in on any details you can remember.
My eyes burst open, and all I thought about was getting out the door. Selective amnesia.
Click of the seat belt. Security. Driving has become so routine that sometimes I forget what I’m doing and lose myself in the traffic currents. The slight discomfort of the seat belt helps to remind me of where I am. Driving, not floating.
As I drift, my eyes soften, and I allow myself to be carried away. I’d like to say that I’m devoting at least 50% of my attention to the road, but I’m sure that’s not the case. Somehow it works out, no accidents yet.
I’d like to think of it as shifting my focus to my internal third eye, letting my psychic channels guide me. But I’m not convinced that applies to mechanical extensions.
Brake. Shift. Turn. Click. I have reached my destination. The Bank — source of all tangible energy transfer. I’ve been operating at a deficit lately, but that’s soon to change. Of course not before they tried to take everything I have. I have nightmares where my car is repossessed.
In my dream I find a note, a sort of love letter under my wiper blade. Starts out well, right? A more flattering script I’ve never heard — and at the end it informs me, We will be re-possessing your car tomorrow. Signed, Anonymous. Energy suck.
Ding, Chatter, Click. Transaction finished. There, now at least I’m safe for the week. Click. Pull. Step. Slam. Turn. Ding. Shift. Pedal. Drive. Bodies advance. Traveling at robotic paces, beyond the laws of human locomotion. Bizarre how there’s so much movement involved, with the body so still.
Gears and levers replace legs and arms. Seat-belt restrains the force of potential impact.
All made possible by our alien ancestors, the bones of evolution, siphoned from wells of war.
No avoidance… I’m part of the cultural machine. Barely can remember how to move without oil. Bodies rust up over time. Oxidized metal forming permanent attachments. Find any life on the Gulf Coast and it’s the opposite. I guess that’s just how it is — you’re either starving or drowning for it.
Black liquid gold. Seaweed cells osmose oil instead of water, turning green into black matters.
87 Days of hope lost. I drive down to the shore to help the clean-up. Straight through the night — stopping for gas and food, but not for sleep. When I arrive, it’s past midnight and the crew has been gone since dark. Doesn’t matter, I want to see the damage for myself.
I leave my car out on the road and walk toward the beach. Once I hit sand, my shoes come off, so I can feel where the earth saturates. Wasteland in view.
Black lacquer glaze organics into monochrome form. Involution returns shape to entangled state.
They say we are born without knowing separation from the outside world. Over time our ego develops to protect against that displeasure, but we suffer a loss.
Forever yearning for that oceanic state, that indissoluble bond with the universe, we peer through shrouds, floating our heads off our bodies — up into heaven, out into space. Embracing illusion with the conviction of saints.
Freud says that love is the closest thing to boundary dissolve, but warns it’s dangerously close to pathology. What a romantic.
Looking out for signs that I am not the only living thing on this planet — static ocean shows no signs of life, though there must be some and I aim to find it.
Underneath the obsidian surface I imagine bodies writhing, trying to free themselves of their own oil-covered skin, unable to feel through thick layers of funereal coating.
I remove my clothes and peel off my skin down to the muscle, so I can sense the elements without obstruction.
Expanding my perception, I light a match and jump in.
Sarah Muehlbauer is a visual artist, performer, and independent curator/writer/producer. She studied painting, video, and textiles in art school, while picking up collaborative projects and curating the work of fellow performers and artists. She’s been globe-hopping to pursue her most recent project A House for Birds, currently in residence at Peñasco Theater in New Mexico. As a performer, her roots come from gymnastics, yoga, and aerial arts, but her role on stage varies to include narration, live-installation art, and occasionally a song or two. Common themes emphasize modern spirituality and the human place in the environment. You can support her project here.