Grounds for Sculpture

Grounds for Sculpture

Thursday, August 30, 2012


When I was six years old I began going to sleep-away camp for eight weeks every summer.  

I was a “runt.”  (Those of you laughing and murmuring, “You still are!”  You should know that I grew to be the tallest member of my biological family!)

I was always the smallest kid in the bunk, on every team, on the girls side of the camp, and at the entire camp, in general.  So when it came to size order, I was always in the front of the line.

That was just size.

What I lacked in size meant nothing to me because I made up for it in every possible way in athletics, in muscle, in guts and in sheer will.

I had a reputation.  

When I was eight years old and it was College-Week, the pre-cursor to “Color-War,” I was in the tug-a-war competition and I was helping win the competition for my team.  During College Week, the camp was divided into four teams.  So you would have to compete against all three in order to be in the lead.  

I was in the front of the rope.  The runt.  Largely unorthodox when you think about it.  But somehow, no one was going to knock me down.  Our team was fierce and we kept winning.  

Three tug-a-war’s later, we had a crushing lead over all of the other teams.

Then came the “All-Star” competition.  That was the one where they took the strongest members from each age-group and asked for us to compete against the “All- Stars” on the other teams.  

This was going on for a very long time.  Many rounds of competition.  It was a very hot day. 

I would not give up.

I had no sense of being tired.  No sense of calluses on my hands.  No sense of my body, even.  No sense of the heat.  

I remember the screaming, I remember my counselor screaming my name, the cheering  in the background, the feeling of the team moving as one unit as we pulled backwards and ripped that rope to victory.

The entire camp seemed to scream.  But all I remember was running into my counselor’s arms.  My legs, cradled around her hips and I collapsed inside her large and comforting body.  Everything went dark and quiet and at last, I was able to rest.  

There was more screaming but I didn’t worry about any of it.  She ran me around, threw water on me, tried to wake me, etc. etc.  But I was gone.  I couldn’t see or hear anything.  Everything was dark and black and quiet.  It was wonderful.

Ultimately, I was okay.  I had fainted in my counselor’s arms.  The counselors were not doing a good job of looking out for my well-being, and my nature was to push.  I didn’t have the sensibility at age 8 that I was dehydrated or that I might have been at risk of passing out from over-exertion.  It never crossed my young mind that I could pass out.  I only focused on what was needed of me, which was to win.

It amazes me to remember this now.  That I already had this imprint of pushing past what was healthy for me 36 years ago.  Maybe even before then.  

How long does it take for us to learn a pattern?  And how long to unlearn it?  Hmmmm...  

Well, what I can say is that I am no longer muscling through my life.  I have even shed about 12 pounds of muscle (sadly), and do not presently, have that barrier between me and where I need to get to emotionally.  

I don’t begrudge the counselors nor the camp for not looking out for me.  I look back and see a child who tried to teach me something.  She tried to teach me even earlier.  On countless occasions.  And she has tried to teach me since.  That is what I can see now.    

How long does it take for us to learn a pattern?  And how long to unlearn it?

As I am about to embark on another major surgery, what I see is that I am ready.  I feel 
compassion for myself.  I am listening to a body which is speaking in clear and direct ways, even if they are just quiet whispers.  

I am listening.

Not muscling.

Nothing else to do now but listen.

And let go of the ropes.

Unless of course, you need me to pull you to safety.

With love.


Jill Bacharach

Saturday, August 18, 2012

It's Not the End of the Rainbow

I have been thinking a lot about my tears.  There have been many.  The other night at the theater... my my my!  It seems to me that I cry when I do not want to let go and I cry when I finally do.

My beloved asked me what are my favorite moments on film.

For me they are always moments of connection and they are also moments of transformation.  I could list endless scenes here.  It would be a catalog of film history which would make ANYONE cry!!!

Let me tell you about my grandfather.

I knew him better than anyone else on the planet.  Every modulation in his voice.  Every look in his eyes.

When I was only 20, I lived overseas and he used to send me cassette tapes in the form of letters.  As soon as he would say, "Just a minute, just a minute."  I knew that what he was actually doing was that he was reaching for his handkerchief.  That, as he was speaking, his eyes were welling up with tears, his heart was swelling with emotion and he needed to blow his nose.

For me, this was how my grandfather loved.  Through his tears.

My grandfather left his body 21 years ago, and I am so much like my him, it is disarming.

Recently, I believe that my tears were deeply misunderstood.  I was asked the question "What is in the way of your dream?"  And I began to cry.  Those tears were the grief of feeling into the reality of knowing there is a real obstacle between where I am now and the manifestation of the dream I wrote down about the healthy body I wish to have, as I am about to embark on another surgery.  I know myself well enough to know that I cannot get to step 2 without walking through step 1.  For instance, if step 2 is surrender and acceptance around this present physical reality, I must feel what there is to feel (step 1) before arriving there.  I am NOT a step-skipper!!!  The reflection I was given was that my tears were a cry for attention.  I listened carefully.  Even made a phone call to god and discussed it...  Conclusion: it just didn't land as true.  I will sit in silence to try on clothes to see if they are the right fit... sit and sit to see if something may be real which I don't want to believe could possibly be, but this was simply pulling me off my own trajectory of truth.

As I sat and watched Tracie Bennett perform at the Belasco Theatre performing her heart out a few nights ago, I cried my eyes out.  I was utterly blown away by the level of truth she touched upon.  Universal truth.  Personal truth she must have dug into (from her own life and inner work) to call forth and hail forward with power and presence few have the privilege of seeing on stage in real time.  How fiercely committed she was to showing up for this role.  Her sheer and utter talent.  The humanity she found in her portrayal of the legend who was Judy Garland.  Those tears were also love.  My love of the experience which swells up inside of me and is simply part of my heartbeat.  A love which I can speak about for days.  Years.  Lifetimes.  Love.  

Like how I feel when I watch Wimbledon.  To watch a champion give it everything.  Watching the Olympics last week was stunning and moving to me in every way.  I cried when I saw Granada's Karani James (who won the men's running 400 semi-finals) exchange Name bibs with South Africa's Oscar Pistorious, the FIRST double-amputee to EVER compete in the Olympic Games.  It was simply beautiful.

It connected me to my own heart and tears streamed down my face.

Some of the greatest photographs do this for us.  Like when two people are connected after one has just come back from war.  Those moments of connection call out to us all and call us all forth and call us all back.

I have changed in terms of my tears in many ways.  I no longer STAY there.  No longer indulge them.  I feel dignified.  I never feel ashamed of them.  I can feel safe inside of myself regardless of who is around me.  They are mine to own.  I know what is happening and I am okay with it.

I'm Jill Bacharach, and I have deep feelings which I am deeply in touch with.

As for you, I will meet you wherever you are.  Just as long as you tell me where that is.



Jill Bacharach

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Finding My Way to Forgiveness

I have been learning that being strong has had to mean learning how to be soft.  In my biography, I decided that I needed to become mentally strong in order to survive because I wanted to survive.  Eventually, when I began my yoga practice, I became strong physically, in order to survive not only that same biography, but additional trauma which I was working actively to heal.  

But what I began to realize was that I was NOT healing, I was simply managing and surviving.

As I embark now on what will be my fourth surgery in two years, I realize that what became a body I relied upon in strength is tired and has been screaming out for a different way to live.  To stop muscling through everything.  

I understand now.

I fell to my knees a few weeks ago and had my deepest realization around forgiveness,  which has been an active and ongoing practice for me.  But what I realized is that I have not made sustainable progress for a very big reason.  I have moments of beautiful seeing.  Beautiful moments of clear and deep forgiveness.  But then I find myself right back to a deep place of suffering and seeking forgiveness all over again.

This may be obvious to many, but it took me falling to my knees and seeing this clearly within myself until I could really get it.  Not getting it through hearing it from someone else, not getting it in any way but really deeply understanding it through my own process.  

There is no real forgiveness until you can recognize the place inside of yourself that possesses the same exact behavior, (that place inside of you that has the capacity to behave in the very same way) which you are having difficulty forgiving.  Truly no real forgiveness unless this awareness becomes an acceptance inside of you.  I fell to my knees and I saw my own humanity and I began to sob and I began to have mercy for the deep places of pain which live inside of my body... for every place of hurt, for everyone who has hurt me who I have been sending lovingkindness to every single day for years and years and YEARS!!!!  Only to have been met with MOMENTS of forgiveness which I simply could not sustain.  But I am her and I am him and I am you and you and you and you.  I AM!!!!!!  AND IT IS SOOOOOO SOBERING AND PAINFUL TO WAKE UP TO THAT, BUT IT IS THE TRUTH.  And first I have to face it and forgive myself for those qualities which I too, possess... and only then, can I forgive ANYONE.  Only then.

And now... it can begin.  

And now I can find that softness in order to become strong and maybe even stronger.

God bless us all in this process.  It can be a long and windy road back home... but GPS or not, I MUST find my way.  I must.

With tender love and a soft heart.


Jill Bacharach