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Adventures with the Phone of the Wind

About a year ago I learned about The Phone of the Wind. A man in Japan, Itaru Sasaki, had a phone booth made for his garden. The phone (an old rotary model) was not attached to anything. There was a seat in the booth and he could go there to talk to a cousin he mourned deeply. After the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in 2011 he moved the booth to a more public location and people journey there to talk to loved ones who are gone.

I was deeply moved by this story and it kept coming back around in my thinking. So moved in fact that I intend to build a series of Phones of the Wind to install where people can find them and have a moment for this experience.

There have been numerous reports about the Phone of the Wind, most notably on the public radio show 'This American Life'. An artist in Oakland, CA built one to help the community cope with the Ghost Ship nightclub fire. And a group of artist's built and installed one on public lands outside of Dublin in August, 2017, which was dismantled and rather carefully ruined (without explanation) a few weeks later. So clearly, I am not the only person inspired and/or effected by this concept.

I use the words 'have a moment for this experience' with purpose, and because I don't know how else to describe it for you. I designed a soft and portable Phone of the Wind and brought it recently to the biannual conference of the National Home Funeral Alliance. I set the phone up in a quiet garden outdoors where people could find it and also have some privacy; and I gave it the suggestion of tented enclosure with a seat. Hoping it appeared an inviting and gentle space, I left it for people to find.

We joke about the phrase 'if you build it they will come', and sometimes it is a true thing. I set the phone up and walked away without trying it out myself. The next morning I came to check that everything was ok. Visitors left comments in the notebook I'd set out.

"I could imagine my mother's voice thanking me for the care I gave her in her last days.”

"I heard my husband's and father's voices singing to me together.”

“Oh, my Auntie!”

I felt, unexpectedly, all roiled inside. I had been moved when I first heard about the Phone of the Wind. I contacted the journalist whose article I saw, I reached out to others. I thought about how to build one. I created an installation for the conference. I had traveled hundreds of miles and brought this all the way into manifestation without once thinking to pick up the phone myself or considering who would be on the other end.

The phone I chose was an old, heavy, black rotary model. One hundred percent analog. I lifted the receiver and cradled it in my hand. I am old enough to remember phones like this being the norm. I put the phone to my ear, honestly expecting a one sided conversation with my dad.

At first there was just silence. The wind, I thought, realizing I had been holding my breath. Breathe. I wiggled my toes. Another breath. And then I swear to you, a voice... “Hi Dollface.” Not my dad!

I hung up so fast! Sometimes grief is a mischievous trickster, sneaks in, and causes weather. What a surprise my heart had given me, the voice I forget I am longing to hear. What I discovered, to my surprise, is that the Phone of the Wind is a mysterious healer.

I keep the vintage phone housed in vintage luggage, a sacred place for it to rest between installations. I am looking forward to it's next outing so that I can pick the phone up again, listen to the wind of my heart, and reply this time, “Hello Doll, I miss you. Can I tell you everything?”

If you are interested in supporting my Phone of the Wind installation project please be in touch. If you would like me to bring the Phone to your event, please be in touch. If you would just like to talk, please be in touch. Blessings and love, Dina

Copy and paste this link into your browser to hear the story from This American Life:

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