|Photo found HERE|
This morning before I exercised or cleared the breakfast dishes off the table, before I let myself get sucked into other people's words via this amazing internet, I put on my magic painting apron, lit three candles, took a couple of big gulps of smoothie and began. I began by pouring little bits of magenta, turquoise, orange, yellow, white etc...onto that piece of cut glass I got just for this purpose. I began with an urgency, with heart pumping faster, I began while repeating these words in my head: Please, please let me get out of the way so what wants to come through will come through. Please let me get out of the way. Please let me get out of the way.
While I repeated these words, I dipped fingers into color and as color started filling empty space, I let myself breathe. There was a hunger there I can't describe, as though my life and sanity depended on me putting paint on canvas in that moment. As I continued, I was aware of those mean voices in my head - the ones that tell me what I can't do, the ones that tell me I'm wasting paint and time, the ones that insist I should be exercising the fat off my body instead of playing with paint.
But I kept dipping fingers, mixing color, allowing some deeper, quieter part of me to guide the process. And as I continued to breathe and paint, a flood of emotions came and started dripping, and the words in my head then became - thank you, thank you, thank you.
As I write these words I feel that flood of emotion again. And I'm aware too of the pain. The pain that cuts deep, the symptoms and ache that come from denying myself - from denying myself. Denying myself because of fear. Fear I'll create yet another mess. Fear that I lack when I need in order to really be an artist. Fear of what "they" will think of my creations. Fear so thick it tugs and pulls and weighs me down, so thick it stops me from doing what brings my heart, my body - my whole being - immense, healing joy.
And, oh my God. I'm amazed and deeply saddened that I would deny myself such healing goodness. That I would decide "good" is more important than this soul-healing offering - this heart-healing bliss. I am amazed that, even though I know how deeply healing art is for me, I would decide the product, having something "good enough" to share (or sell), having others' approval, is somehow more important than giving myself the miracle healing blessing of doing what I love.
This miracle healing blessing of doing what I love.
What, what in the whole wide world, could be more important than this?
A couple of days ago there was an article in our local paper about a man (Randolph Westphal) who, 26 years ago, was diagnosed with malignant melanoma. Doctors told him he had no more than a year to live. But, rather than waiting for death to find him, he said (in his German accent), "I make a decision not to die."
He conveyed that he thought stress had caused his cancer and that, he decided, rather than dying, he would fight cancer by doing something he loved - he would ride his bicycle. And that's what he's been doing. Since 1990 he's ridden his bike all over the world (he estimates he's covered over 130,000 miles) - sharing his story - spreading his message of hope. These days he rides with his two Alaskan sled dogs, Nanook and Chinook, who he describes as his family. Amazingly, when my family & I were driving south to a nearby town for my daughter's soccer game last weekend, we passed Randolph and his dogs. The next day we read the article in the paper. One of the things that struck me in the article was these words from this dear, brave man:
No doctor in the world can heal you - you do it with your mind.
Coming upon this man's brave story doesn't feel like an accident. Over the last couple of weeks, I've let the scared parts of me take over. In other words - I've had cancer of the mind. And there's been this part of me that has been a bit desperate for someone, anyone, to save me from my own hell...as if someone else could do it.
Denying myself joy (by denying myself art...my need to express and share) has truly taken the breath right out of me and landed me face first in my own version of hell. Giving myself the gift of paint this morning was like bringing those aching parts of me back to life - like bicycling so beautifully, miraculously did for Randolph.
Here's the truth. When I say no to what feeds and fills me, when I decide something else matters more than doing what lights me up- I become empty. And when I'm empty, I miss the beauty of Here. When I'm empty I have little to give to others- to this life that is calling me - to this life that again and again invites me to say YES.
In a poem I wrote a while ago called "Unleashed," I wrote:
I want to pour
depends on it
I’m really quite certain
Yes. I'm really quite certain it does.