Thought Residency: Chantal Bilodeau

Thought Residency: Chantal Bilodeau


My name is Chantal Bilodeau and this is thought number twelve, which is also and the last thought of this residency.
I’ve been craving focus. I don’t know if it’s me or the outside world but I feel like my life is very scattered and my ability to pay attention somewhat compromised. It’s difficult to have any thought that has any depth when you can only think in fifteen-minute increments, or when you’re always interrupted. I like the variety and I do enjoy some amount of chaos because it can be very energizing. But right now, I wish I could give myself a bit of stillness to catch my breath.

My name is Chantal Bilodeau and this is Thought Number Eleven.
I’m thinking about two things – one was said to me and the other one I read – and for some reason these two things are resonating with me today. The first one is “You can never get enough of what you don’t need” and it was said to me by a massage therapist. The second one was written by playwright Sarah Ruhl and it’s “Life doesn’t get in the way.” So I’m thinking about things we crave but don’t need, and the way we always think that life is getting in the way when it’s actually the other way around.

My name is Chantal Bilodeau and this is Thought Number Ten.
I’m thinking about translation because this is what I’ve been doing intensely for the past several days and I am grateful to be able to travel from one world to another like that, and to have the joy of seeing what’s unique in both worlds. But I’m also aware of the loss, of all those things that don’t travel well between languages because they can’t be captured outside of their context. And that makes me think of people like me, immigrants who were born in one country and one language and now live in another country and another language. Even in the best case scenarios, we gained something but we also lost something.

My name is Chantal Bilodeau and this is Thought Number Nine.
The process of having a thought is interesting. Usually it happens sort of unnoticed in the background. But when you have to have a thought to record it, then you find yourself thinking about your thoughts, editing them, and trying to decide which one is worthy and which one is not. And so, I’ve been sitting here for about twenty minutes, wondering: OK, which thought is a good thought? And of course, in the process millions of them have gone by. But for one reason or another, none of them made the cut. So, in the end what you’re getting is my meta thought on having thoughts.

My name is Chantal Bilodeau and this is Thought Number Eight.
Here’s a list of things that give me anxiety: deadlines, traffic jams, being late, avoidable conflict, unavoidable conflict, too much sugar, not enough sugar, financial insecurity, patterns that repeat indefinitely – like flowers on a wallpaper, bad theatre, climate change, overpopulation, inequality, presidential elections, having to disappoint someone, having to say no to someone, doing a bad job, not being a good friend, making English mistakes, making French mistakes, having to get up at some ungodly hour to catch a flight in the morning, and having eighty-four emails in my inbox.

My name is Chantal Bilodeau and this is Thought Number Seven.
My thoughts today were a little bit like this: “Go!” “No, I don’t have time.” “But it’s beautiful outside!” “No, no, it’s gonna make me late.” “Go, go, just for five minutes!” “No! I’m so overwhelmed!” But in the end, I went and I looked at the river for five minutes, and it was completely worth it.

My name is Chantal Bilodeau and this is Thought Number Six.
I was walking to the subway tonight, and I was walking fast because I was in a hurry. I was also trying to solve a problem in my head so I wasn’t paying much attention. But at some point I noticed a sculpture and I almost just glanced at it and walked away but I decided to stop and really look at it. And it immediately made me feel happy because for one thing, it was beautiful but also it reminded me that beauty is everywhere and that it’s always up to us to take the time to appreciate it.

My name is Chantal Bilodeau and this is Thought Number Five.
Today, I was in a workshop titled The New Climate Story at Columbia University in New York, in a beautiful room that overlooks Manhattan. Out of a group of about fifty, there were only three of us in the theatre and the rest of the group was half journalists and half scientists. And I was reminded that though what we do in the theatre is often undervalued, in the climate world, I have always been not just welcomed but also called upon to help tackle this huge challenge. And I have to say, it’s very nice to be in a place where I feel needed.

My name is Chantal Bilodeau and this is Thought Number Four.
I didn’t watch the Oscars and I also haven’t see the movie “The Joker” [sic] but I am very grateful for Joaquin Phoenix’s Oscar speech where he called out the injustices of the world and talked about how we have become disconnected from the natural world, and how our egocentric world view is causing us to plunder its resources. I’m grateful that he can reach millions of people and is willing to say these things.

My name is Chantal Bilodeau and this is thought number three.
To eat the ice cream or not to eat the ice cream? That is the question. Is it better to be emotionally fulfilled and physically uncomfortable or to be physically well but emotionally deprived? I think life is full of these dilemmas and when we go for black and white solutions, we’re usually missing part of the picture. This said, I’m eating the ice cream.

My name is Chantal Bilodeau and this is Thought #2.
I’ve been reading the book The Patterning Instinct by Jeremy Lent and it talks about how with the advent of agriculture, we developed the concept of boundaries and lines and squares. As long as we were hunters and gatherers, we saw the world as fluid – boundaries were permeable and everything was sort of a curve. But with agriculture, when we started growing things and having our own fields, we needed to determine what was ours and what wasn’t. And that’s when boundaries and squares and straight lines were invented.
So it’s interesting to think since we were born in that system, that we see it as being inevitable. That’s just our world. And it makes me wonder what kinds of boundaries and straight lines have we inherited and put in our stories and how could that be different?

My name is Chantal Bilodeau and this is my first thought.
I wonder what it means to be blessed these days. I’m sitting on my bed drinking a cup of Chai tea out of a cup that says “Blessed” and I think about all the climate disruptions, the coronavirus, um, terrible elections in many countries, protests – all the things that are changing this world – and… maybe being blessed just means being – …  actually being able to sit on a bed and drink a cup of Chai out of a cup that says “Blessed.”