There’s always a little flutter in my heart on Feb. 2. Not because it’s Groundhog Day, as it is called in America. No, it’s because on this day in 1882 James Joyce was born in Dublin. Joyce’s art and life’s work are like nothing else I’ve ever known, and the deep spirituality of Joyce and his creations have had a profound influence on my own practice, life and art.
Today I’m thinking of one of my favorite quotes from his great novel, Ulysses:
We walk through ourselves meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows brothers-in-love. But always meeting ourselves.
And I’m thinking ever-so wistfully how different the world would be if we all saw this – I am you and you are me – and lived our lives accordingly.
If we did, no one would be building walls, banning refugees, insulting people « different » than us, bullying, abusing, disdaining basic courtesy and decency, totally lacking humility, blindly exploiting the earth’s resources, profiting at the expense of others, endlessly and ignorantly cultivating division, greed, anger, ignorance. We wouldn’t be watching a callous, narcissistic xenophobe act out his deluded fantasies in the most powerful government office in the world, threatening us all with the gravest of dangers. Of course, if I am you and you are me, we are also him and he is us. That’s where I am tonight, still looking at myself to see him and still looking at him to see me.
Meanwhile, happy 135th birthday, Mr. Joyce.