Tammy Ressman Narena created Telesymbols almost 75 years ago, and worked throughout her life to bring her vision to life. It was not to be. She passed away in 2005, not having the success she’d hoped for, having no adherents, and a failed marriage.
Her second child was me, and having grown up with her project, I understood her work like no one else. I saw her true brilliance, and I loved her. So, after she passed away in 2005, I wrote a book about her, and thought I’d try to make a film. In 2008, inspired by a peace activist in Marin County, California, who has also since passed away, I started practicing the work. Life got in the way for a long time, but I’m still hoping to make that film, and one foot in front of the other, a utopian project, so insanely huge that I can’t even properly imagine it. It feels like this project is an idea, finally, whose time has come.
Her work is miraculous: Telesymbols create peace first individually, as people move the gestural language whole-heartedly: body, mind and spirit, creating sentences of meaningful communication. Secondly, the conversation back and forth between individuals, begins to excite alignments of neurons, luminosity, engaged intelligence and passion. Thirdly, as viewers see Telesymbols, empathy and understanding is generated with intuitive understanding of the universality of the gestures. Peace is not a static state to be achieved, it is a dynamic which builds toward resolution. Individually, in relationship, and inter-nationally, Telesymbol Movement for Peace builds literacy skills, abstract thinking skills, empathy, and understanding, while improving neurological outcomes in all areas.
Tammy always saw her project as a solution to all the world’s problems. She had a vision of peace on earth, with people communicating, understanding, and wanting to inspire others with good deeds. It was an earth shaking project, and it’s time just hadn’t come yet.
Maybe, just maybe: that time is Now.
In that wild imagination of a world shaking project, I’ve renamed Telesymbols, first Telesymbol Movement for Peace, and then: Empatharian Movement for Peace. My super-power is empathy, and it’s many human beings’ super-power! Empathy is the new Black, as far as I’m concerned, because for sure Orange is Not! Creating and nurturing a culture of Empathy, is what my life’s work is all about.
So, I took a powerful “Telesymbol Demonstration” in a painting she made in 1966, and re-imagined and re-interpreted it in words that I feel the movements she designed actually DID communicate. Her painting is the illustration to this Blog, which says:
“There is Victory in Communicating
Peace Is an Enthused, Dignified, Energyy
Seeking Good life in the Nature of God””
In Empatharian, it became:
“Everyone, everywhere Wins making a stand for Peace-building,,
Which is Inspired, Respectful Energyy
Seeking Heart Connection to Inner Joy and Wisdom.””
“There is” was the gesture of including all in an offering: so it became “Everyone, Everywhere”, because it was more clear.
“Victory” was more clear as “Winning”, so it was “Everyone Wins” in common vernacular. The movements changed slightly as well. “Winning” in common gestural usage is fore arms out to sides, elbows bent upwards, wrists bent, hands in soft fists.
The gesture for “Communicating” was more clearly understood as “making a stand”. And with one arm up, soft fist facing up, one arm downwards coming to a soft open palm at the belly, and a jacking motion as the upper arm straightens up and pulls the head and spine back and straight, it just looks like “making a stand”, head slightly facing shoulder of lower arm.
“Peace” is more clearly understood as “Peace-building”, not a static position, but something we are working towards…
Perhaps going into the details of my changes can get tedious, so you’ll just need to trust me: I did the movements and understood what I felt was being communicated. Over a period of years, I began to own the communication as my own, and clarified it. Perhaps if you do the same movements, you will understand it differently. That discussion is what Empatharian Movement for Peace is all about!
When I first started doing this movement amalgation, I had difficulty remembering the words; it felt foreign, and indeed, it was foreign. Though my mother spoke a perfect Englishwoman’s English with an English accent, I’m sure she was still translating in her head somehow, between the 5 languages she spoke, Russian being her first language. And I am American culturally, though I was born in England, and spent 10 happy years there later in life. We are a different generation than my mother, faster in some ways, slower in others.
We are in a pandemic that has us communicating with people all over the world, suddenly, with time on our hands to think about what we want for the future, what is education, what is it we need to teach. I hope that Empatharian Movement for Peace can become the new viral idea that populates a wellness for this planet that we’ve never yet experienced. Will you be one of the people to start spreading this healthy healing? Let me know-