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I was recently going through some old boxes of mine, both to organize my old belongings and to go on a bit of a nostalgia trip. Among the polaroid photos, handmade Super Ari stories so old that my toddler scrawl of nonsense had faded away into the yellow pages, and elementary school behavioral progress reports I’m still too afraid to read, were a pile of journals. I eagerly tore them open only to find that I had written very little; I was a bit of a distractible child and keeping up daily updates about my life for some theoretical future version of myself was just too much work. One entry (the last for 3 years) only read:

Now it is morning, and I

Good job, past me.

There were also a few poems, each of which captured a bit of who I was at the time. There was one, for instance, from a “book of poems” which only ended up having one poem in it, written when I was 8:

Mother’s Day

On Mother’s Day, on Mother’s Day

The children don’t go out to play
On Mother’s Day, on Mother’s Day

“Let’s help our mothers!” the children say
On Mother’s Day, on Mother’s Day

The children say “thanks”, “please”, and “nay”.
And all the while the children say
“Have a happy Mother’s Day!”

 

So, yeah, not exactly Walt Whitman (what child ever says ‘nay’?) but I recall that at the time, I was particularly close to my mom, and I wanted to express those feelings to her through the only medium I knew how. I loved to write poems and stories and comics, a trait I carry into today as I work to become a screenwriter and musician.

Another poem, this one in the same journal as the riveting “Now it is morning, and I” entry, was written quite a bit later, in high school. It was part of my attempt at a “Poem a Day” section. It was also the only poem I ended up writing in there. Habits never change, it seems.

Keyboard

Muscle memory

Always ready, always on

Unlike the brain controlling it.

No alt key; got lost.

(but ALT is basically useless

I hope my words aren’t).

Every key connected

To any other key.

Creating worlds, creating wars

Asking her out

(in person would be better,

but then you have to use expressions

instead of smileys)

With muscle memory, we know the letters

But not the words.

Thank God for Backspace.

 Alright, it’s definitely an improvement over the “Mother’s Day” one, at least. You can see where my mind was at at the time. Dating, insecurity, trying to understand and explore the technology that was rapidly becoming everything to me and my peers. It was a way to quantify and explore the feelings that were running through my head. I realized, as I looked at these and other poems and lyrics that were sprawled on notebook linings, unfinished journals, school reports, and scraps of paper, that this was how I channeled my emotions into tactile sense. This was how I learned to understand myself.

I think writing, whether prose or poetry, is a helpful way to figure out what’s going on inside of our ever-changing minds, and that doesn’t stop at childhood. It’s like how, for most people, your visual art skills improve at a steady rate for the first decade of your life…and then suddenly your progress grinds to a halt, pretty much leaving your art looking like that of a 4th grader forever. It’s not because you aren’t capable of putting the art on the page; it’s because you stop trying. You move on to other things. Everyone has their own interests, of course, but culturally we tend to view art as an impractical field. It’s not “useful” in the way that engineering or medical careers are. We see it as hippy-dippy, cerebral, egotistical, and even downright selfish.

But not all art is made to get some kind of message across. Some art is for the individual artist. Is there anything wrong with that? To imply that making something for the self is a negative thing is to imply that self care is unnecessary or even bad. Our society tends to gently ease (and then firmly push) kids away from these fields, often because we want to see them do something meaningful with their lives. Sure, my Mother’s Day poem isn’t going to change the world, but it was important to me when I wrote it, and every poem, story, or line of thought I put down was a thread of the tapestry that makes up who I am now.

So write. Draw. Compose. Design. If not for others, than for yourself. There is nothing wrong with creating as a form of self-exploration. It’s not only healthy; it’s also admirable. In a time when expressing honest emotions is both easier and more difficult than ever before, making sense of it all might be as simple as getting it down on the page. You might be surprised with the conclusions that you come to when you look at it all again.


Click HERE for a list of therapists of therapists that offer Art Therapy near you.

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Tropical Storm Isaias is headed towards the Carolinas

Tropical Storm Isaias is headed towards the Carolinas. Please note that we plan to be open for appointments; however, be aware that power outages may be widespread which may impact telehealth and other appointments. We may not know until the last minute in all of our locations on Tuesday. Please be patient. We will waive missed appointment charges on Tuesday, August 4th in light of complications from the weather. If you and your provider are unable to connect, we will reach out to reschedule your appointment as soon as possible.