Walk A: Carrying the numbers of earths and slaves that your lifestyle requires
This exercise requires you to go for a walk with two important numbers that may be difficult to carry: 1) the number of planets we would need if everyone had your lifestyle and 2)the number of modern slaves that your lifestyle already requires.
These numbers can be calculated at:
Write down your two numbers on a piece of paper. Go for a short walk carrying these numbers with you or make space for these numbers to sit or lie down with you where you are . In order to make the numbers present and real for you (so that you do not get distracted), find ways of making them tangible by representing them in pictures or in other artistic expressions.
- How does it feel to hold space for these numbers?
- What do these numbers ask you to do?
- How often (if ever) have you had to think about these numbers before?
- Reflect on the ways you may have resisted carrying these numbers during the exercise (with deflections, distractions, anger, frustration, dis-identification with the exercise).
- What range of responses showed up in the exercise (e.g. desire to “fix” the problems, confusion, sense of being overwhelmed or immobilized)? Try to sit with the different responses without investing in them.
Many Indigenous worldviews start from questions like: What is our responsibility to the land and the planet? What is our responsibility to future generations? How do we become good ancestors for all relations? How can these numbers help us to not turn our backs to these questions?
Walk B: Seeing yourself in the beautiful, the broken and the messed up
This exercise requires a photo of yourself where your face is clearly visible (you can use one that is already printed, print one or to draw a quick self portrait). Find a way of creating a hole where your nose, cheeks, eyes and mouth are located in the photo, like in the examples below.
Go for a short walk carrying the photo and your phone with you. If you cannot go outside, be prepared to explore different rooms in your own place. Create a series of images where the hole is inhabited by other entities in your current surroundings. (e.g. hold the hole so that something shows through it and then take a picture of that, see the example below).
Pay attention to the aesthetic desires that arise in the exercise. If the desire to take only pictures of beautiful things arises, sit with it for a bit to check where it comes from, then let it go. This exercise invites you to see yourself entangled with everything: what is beautiful, what is ugly, what is broken and what is messed up.
Make notes about what this exercise makes visible for you (for your journal):
- What (if any) resistance to the exercise did you feel? Turn your resistance into a teacher.
- What have you learned about your relationship with your self-image?
- How difficult was it to let go of a photograph?
- How difficult is it to let go of one’s self-image?
- For some people, making the hole in the photograph brings a sensation of worthlessness, while others experience it as liberation. Many people have both sensations or completely different ones. What emerged for you? Were you surprised? Witness the responses, but do not invest in them.
- How difficult is it to feel connected with everything (beautiful, ugly, broken and messed up)?
- What are your defaced photo and the photos you took on the walk teaching you about the challenges of decolonization?