Existing as a living, breathing, feeling human isn’t always easy; in fact, it can be quite taxing. At times it feels like an enigmatic balancing act between certainty and uncertainty, a fragile equilibrium we sporadically and fleetingly attain before something disturbs our progress.
Yet for every struggle, there is an equal and opposite moment of beauty and freedom.
The L.A. GOAL Members seem to intuitively understand this dichotomy; they know that although life is short and sometimes painful, it is also beautiful. The Members and staff of L.A. GOAL have greatly influenced my relationship with change and uncertainty. They have taught me the freedom to feel and the freedom to fail; the empowerment and self-validation that accompany these freedoms is invaluable.
“It’s amazing that we [humans] refuse to confront feelings,” reflects L.A. GOAL staff Blanca Martinez last July. It was 7:45 AM, and I had not yet sipped my morning coffee. “You have to like yourself, good and bad. A lot of people can’t do that.” I immediately transcribed Blanca’s words in my sketchbook.
I have always struggled with confronting and expressing unpleasant emotions, and I have never liked that about myself. This fear of confrontation really boils down to a fear of change and consequence. But by avoiding confrontation, I’m avoiding the possibility of creating something new and beautiful. The Members have taught me that by avoiding the possibility to change, I’m holding myself back from fully living. They have taught me that if I don’t listen to my voice, no matter what it’s saying, I’m missing out on taking action and creating possibilities for myself and others. Life will always present struggles, but the individual decides whether to allow change to paralyze, or to actively empower oneself. Of course moving forward isn’t always easy, but that’s why we have each other. I have not seen ONE thing get in the way of our Members moving forward, and it is this courageous mode of existence that I respect most about our community.
Every day at L.A. GOAL we deal with victories and challenges, both big and small. The awarding of a grant, the final brushstroke of a painting. A dropped sandwich at lunchtime, the sickness or death of a Member. The grace, patience, and understanding with which we approach these victories and challenges make us an extremely supportive and brave community. We enable the freedom to fail, and we enable the freedom to feel. With each failure comes a lesson learned and a new perspective acquired. It is the freedom to fail and feel that enables tremendous growth amongst our Members and staff, and through this freedom I have learned to wholly love myself, even my “bad” qualities. It is my hope that as a community we can continue to foster the safety both to fail and to feel. The ability to positively face these two challenges and incorporate them into our everyday routine grants us the ability to live an active, rewarding and complete existence.
Written by Alyssa Mannis, Assistant Director of Visual Arts