This I Believe

Joanne - Seattle,, Washington
Entered on August 15, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
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August 14, 2006

Submission for This I Believe …

I am 42 years old, part woman, part tool. My left arm is made of steel and fiberglass, not flesh and bone. Sleek, black, with a shiny, silver hook, that has worn smooth with time. My rigid forearm is filled with nicks and gouges, scratches and scars. I am the place where the Industrial Revolution meets the body, but this is my choice.

When my 5 year old son says “Mama, I love your hook”, a tear always comes to my eye. Sometimes, he tries to wear my arm, slipping his small hand into the socket, he opens and closes the hook carefully. Once, I fashioned a hook for him out of tin foil, we made cardboard swords and played pirates in the yard. He wants to understand in a way that no one else ever has. For him, I am just as I should be.

I live in a world where everything must be translated, a two handed task to one. The tying of shoes, working with tools, typing, the list goes on. Over time, I’ve learned the language of absence and synthesize. I make prosthetic limbs in my basement, it is necessary. An arm of stones, another of old photographs and poems. Images and words, copper and wire, this and that. I am slowly amassing a body of work, exploring the ideas and beliefs of physical completeness in a world which defines our appearance so narrowly. I suppose I am healing from a wound that would not heal on its own.

Today I wonder of form and function, aesthetic and design, emotion and representation. I wonder about the missing parts of others, those parts which are concealed beneath their skin. I wonder about the amputation of the spirit, is there a prosthetic for that?

What if everyone made replacements for their missing parts, dedicating them to those pieces of themselves which have been lost, stolen or left behind? What if we all had work shops in our basements, where we could arrange and rearrange the pieces of ourselves? A place where we accepted ourselves as being just as we should be? What if we believed we could heal through that which we create? This I believe.