For Wednesday, January 20, 2016:
“Write to heal, turn tragedy into art. Dip your pen into your internal poison and write.”
… Or draw or paint. Create a sculpture from driftwood. Take a photograph that captures the essence of what you feel, how the light reflects, absorbs, or projects the image in the viewfinder. Compose a song …
To be honest, if I couldn’t write at such times – whether from internal poison and chaos or external, national, or world tragedies – I might not even be here today. Or if I were still here, I think I’d probably be a bit of a basket case.
I suspect I am not alone in saying that writing has been my salve and my balm on more than one occasion. Sometimes I have a poem or a story to show for it, which always feels good. Many times, though, the writings that are most healing for me are those I can, eventually, tear up and throw away.
Bibliotherapy, poetry therapy, and expressive arts therapy are, of course, built on the foundation of the need for healing – sometimes years later – as a result of tragedy or trauma, but I discovered the healing properties of writing as a child, decades before I’d ever heard of such therapies. Some of my earliest poems were written to try to understand why, for instance, ‘Nature’ allowed animals to die or why they or humans suffered. Naturally, too, I went through the usual teenaged periods of angst and lovelorn woes that prompted notebooks full of poems. (Those were the ones that were most frequently thrown away, especially years later when I would come across one or more and gag.)
As bad as most of those teenaged diatribes and tear-jerked pennings were (I knew some were at the time), it helped to write them down. It helped, too, I believe, to do so by hand. The physicality of that act, those motions, helped distribute and then dispel the emotions that were raging throughout my mind, body and heart.
The more deeply I felt about something, the deeper I wrote, physically, onto the paper. If impressions of the pen strokes went through three or four layers of paper, I knew I had reached down to those emotions. Putting pen to paper acted like a fish hook to bring them up to where they could be scattered onto the paper in words. If the words were any good, they formed themselves (or I could later) into something creative. If they weren’t good enough, I allowed them to dry up, to be blown away. Either way, though, they were out in the open and gone from inside, where they might have festered or grown.
I still put pen to paper whenever I feel something strongly, good or bad. It’s just not the same to try to type emotions onto a keyboard. I tried it recently, and it didn’t work.