The Happy Heart School

Living lifelong human care, development, education, learning and service for all.




For Vashima Goyal, who clarified for me my veil regarding my journal documentation and my art, with so much focus, loving intent, commitment, scrutiny, gentleness and grace for my growth


I had originally titled this “Unbroken”. Then it became “unbreaking”. Then when I finished the piece, it settled at “erasing”.


I am beginning to understand that my highest self is my lowest self. My most accepting self is my most broken self. If I didn’t have that brokenness, I wouldn’t have the highest redeemer in me. And that is an astounding meeting. It is an encounter beyond my wildest imaginings.


And that simultaneity of the pain and its corresponding relief, astounding. And it is materially felt, in the body. And specifically, in the heart.


In my walk towards whatever it was that was to sooth my heart from the brokenness of our humanity, I stumbled upon understanding learnt helplessness and then about getting up and walking one’s own way. What I didn’t anticipate is to experience this divine meeting of a strength that is beyond me emerging in me, and carrying me initially, and now being me.


It is a me that can only emerge because I was so broken. So broken inside, and daring to admit to that. To meet that anguish that no one can explain. It is inexplicable because it is just right smack in the heart, and nothing external can extinguish the inner pain, except that a way needs to be found, to heal from within. And that illumination for me, can only come from my own true grasping, understanding, and my own making sense of my own experiences, and my choices and self-determination about the circumstances of my life.


It isn’t about this or that or neuroscience or psychology or a utopian human civilisation. It isn’t even about power. Yesterday, my friend Vashima Goyal, said to me “Documentation isn’t about recording. It is the emergence of the process of learning.” She was sharing with me the deep pedagogical secrets that she has found in all her years of lifework of dedication to learning and human conditions of confronting life, embracing life, and finding peace and joy in all kinds of circumstances. Many which are adversarial.


I looked at her with full heart, my arms in hers, walking side by side, “This must be the moment where the pedagogista meets the atelierista in all the Reggio I am trying to grasp from books and small encounters.” I went on to ponder about her observations about documentation. I have the same instinctive response, “What you call documentation is what I call art. Art is very material or not. But there is a medium. The medium is the investigation, the discovery.” And I daringly offered my observation about art that I rarely mention to many people lest it upsets them, “And actually, the boundary of the form defines the form.”


This is what I have discovered for myself. The boundary of painting and drawing is the frame. The boundary of music is the harmony. The boundary of poetry is voice. The boundary of theatre is the audience. The boundary of dance is stillness. The boundary of sculpture is space. And so the boundary of wholeness is brokenness and the boundary of self becomes the body, and not the mind. The form breaks when the boundary isn’t respected.


So then, any form becomes mush, without real understanding and respect of the material in question.


When the subject-object of the consideration, or observation, or investigation, is understood, there is a possibility of multiplicity. If there isn’t, then it is one big confusion. Nobody knows if you are looking at a mirror or if the mirror is looking at you as a mirror or as a real person. It all gets rather messy and noisy, cluttered and tiring. This is what I mean by mush. The non-clarity of seeing. It then becomes very upsetting because no one is really actually speaking to each other, much less communicating, much less collaborating, or doing anything together. They are only two very confused bodies in one space, discovering the sense of being and personhood, but it might actually not be fruitful, if the other person is loud, noisy, seeking to confuse and demanding. Because for a personhood to formate, there needs to be silence. And answering of an impossibly imperative or call or a truthful need to seek to clarify. The boundaries of the self, first the body, then the mind, then the emotions, then the words, then the discoveries, then the identity, then the choices, all need spaces of silence and real spaces of support to exploring the media, for something to make sense to the person. That person isn’t present yet to collaborate. That person is still answering an innate natural call to be fully alive, to be a full and whole human person, in full capacity of discovering life. The mystery and gift of a human life, in contexts, in community, on earth.


I see a studio. And also a science lab. And libraries. Lots of different types of libraries. And spaces for discovery of family, friendships, belonging, intimacy, inner distances. There are also spaces for the necessities of an enriched human life, making food, growing food, a home, a home to tinker about, mobility choices, high health ability to move and discover, and also making significant contributions and impacts to society, helping others, making a livelihood, trading, playing, sorting out disagreements, cleaning up, setting up, just plain relaxing, doing nothing, and just plain being silly, funny and downright hilarious. The intensity of the discovery of oneself and life and others is unending. It is part of the boundary of self – an active and inquiring mind.


I don’t know if people get bored. I think the edge of boredom is actually just a boundary of learning something that has come to a nice close or understanding and our refusal to actually say, “Oh, that was a chapter that has illuminated this for me.” Or “Oh, that was a lovely work of art. Let me see what is next.”


Art isn’t for us to frame; art frames us. That’s why there is words and non-words. So many forms to play with, explore, pull here, pull there. Stack up, crash down. Draw, erase. Make faces and see who gets upset. Test what is seriously serious. And what is flake puffed up rice crispies fluff.  Examine. Create-recreate. Tears, smiles. Joys, sorrow, bitterness, despair, then a belligerence beyond our own comprehension emerges. Who knows what human emotions play up in our discoveries. But it is what one can fully say downright playful, childish, child-like, frighteningly unbecoming, courageous, wise sagely.


How is one to play and discover one self and one’s life and truly dialogue or collaborate with another if one’s one log of vocabulary about life is limited and not allowed to have multiple meanings, multiple extensions, experimentations of cross media, cross metaphors, cross cultures, cross biomes? How can one be limited to a set of rules about vocabulary, form, and then by extension, oneself, and one’s life?


It is no wonder the best of us are in deep pits of muck.


We get stuck exactly where we don’t dare allow the formation of a new meaning. A new word. A new perspective. A new out-of-the-culture penetrating insight into the reality of reality. And then we feel it is all a trap. When in fact, it is our own set of inner rules that have ringfenced our own comfort zones, and then when that boundary is challenged, we reinforce it even more. That boundary is a false one because life, reality, is already presenting that our inner rules, dogmas, comfortable arenas, are already logically false. The inner rules don’t stand up to the realities of life. And so, an honest re-examination, what Stanley Greenspan would reference as the true development of logic, is the necessary and most healthy developmental response. The reconciliation between reality and ideation.


Reality is earth. It is culture. It is things undiscovered.


One can say, I am you being aware of me. Or one can say, that is too messy. If you don’t sort yourself out, you are always going to take everything that doesn’t go well in your own life on me. Or one can say, I better take some time to sort out myself first. My own psychological-emotional growth. My own figuring out of how I can navigate this world in this body, in this personhood.


The boundary of a human life on earth is time, and gravity.


What we do between the start of that and the finish of that, is our own choice and commitment to the mystery and gift of this one life.


We come vulnerable. And we will finish vulnerable. That is the boundary of this human body.


It is much wiser to ground in a 24-hour cycle of good rhythm of balance of necessary sleep-rest cycle than fly on some trapeze of the mind that doesn’t know why it is flying and hasn’t yet even touched anything material of earth.


I am not sure about human connections and all. Like I said, for me, when it is all about confusion staring at confusion, it is confusion, no matter what form it takes. And there is a whole lot of toxicity in confused relationships. Only when it is clarity working with clarity, that for me is flow. Regardless of the form it takes.


And that’s what I call truth.

And this – is my today’s art.


Peng-Ean Khoo
November 11, 2017


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