For some reason when I read the introduction to week three, Discovering a Sense of Perspective, I flashed back to the second movie I remember seeing as a child, it was a ‘date’ with my uncle and we saw Mary Poppins. The lyrics to A Spoonful of Sugar filled my head so quickly I halfway expected to turn and see Julie Andrews standing in my bedroom pulling a spoon and a bottle of medicine out of her carpetbag.
Each step of Walking in this World (by Julia Cameron) begins with an overview and a statement of purpose, “The readings and tasks of this week aim at detoxifying your thinking regarding the arts and your place as an artist in our society. Art is tonic and medicinal for us all. As an artist you are a cultural healer.”
She captured my attention immediately with her opening statement, “We are all artists – some of us are declared, accomplished, and publicly esteemed artists. Others of us are the private kind, making artful homes and artful lives…” It struck me that we tend to equate creativity with the traditional arts such as painting, drawing, music, or film, and we often confuse being famous with having talent; we minimize ourselves, our ‘art’ and our contributions.
I take notes as I read; my reactions combined with direct quotes fill the pages of my spiral notebook and further cement me along the path of this journey. Sometimes I replace a name within a quote with mine as I absorb the stories that seem to be written just for me. I found comfort in the tale of Sarah, a woman who lived much of her life feeling depressed and ‘crazy,’ and whose life was transformed through a re-discovery of writing and a way to “channel and express her colorful inner selves.”
The story concluded with a quote; “‘I abandoned my dream and myself.’ Finding the courage to dream again,
Sarah Beth also found that the parts of her she had misplaced were alive and well – once they were finally welcome.”
I struggled with some aspects of this chapter, and a week later I still find myself journaling and processing the section on Anger and the task to Use Anger as Fuel. The assignment was to number a list from 1 to 50 and write grievances from petty to large, each sentence beginning with the words “I’m angry.” While writing the list, the challenge was to also jot down solutions to address the anger and solve the problem.
Anger is an emotion that tires me; I am a person who avoids conflict and confrontation. I keep coming back to the following, “Anger is a call to action. It is challenging and important to let our light shine. It is important to name ourselves rather than wait for someone else to do it…Anger should not be denied or suppressed it should be used to ‘make something out of it,’ to create.”
I thought about times in which I had every right to be angry, but instead I buried my head in the sand and didn’t ‘name myself’ or speak up for me. I also realized it wasn’t just the feeling of anger that had been missing. Over the years I had begun to equate being strong with being stoic, “A person who can endure pain or hardship without showing their feelings or complaining.”
I have to think about what she’s saying as more than anger, I interpret it as meaning all emotions, to feel is to live, and to live is to create. I’ve been told that when I ‘write from the heart,’ it’s obvious and beautiful. I know that when I ‘write from the heart’ it can hurt and I sometimes cry. I’ve also learned it helps me heal.
My favorite task from this week was the creation of a collage. Armed with the directions I gathered a stack of magazines, poster board, scissors, tape and a notebook. I thought of a recurring theme, she said use “a situation you would like to understand more fully.” With that subject in mind for twenty minutes I thumbed through Writer’s Digest, Philly Magazine, Cosmo, Bon Appétit, and All You and snipped out pictures I was drawn to. I spent the next twenty minutes arranging them on the poster board and the last twenty minutes writing about it.
What I created surprised me. It was the story of me, a pictorial representation of how I am moving beyond my past, becoming me, learning to ‘live large,’ claiming my beauty and my talent, and last but not least my dreams. In my journal I wrote, “I am leaving my past behind me and I am believing in the dreams I once had…It is my future, it is my time.”
It now hangs on my bedroom wall.
Throughout the chapter, she refers to art as therapeutic, not therapy, and points out that “Books, poems, plays, symphonies – they aim at healing the soul.” Like the spoonful of sugar helped the medicine go down, artists take human emotions and fears and transform them into works of art that make us feel better about life and about ourselves.
We are all artists. [Julia Cameron]