I have been in love with words all of my life. When I was in elementary school I got in trouble for holding my book under my desk and reading when I was supposed to be learning other subjects. I majored in English Lit in college. I have written dozens of journals, a handful of bad and middling novels, a couple of short stories. But poetry had eluded me. Of course I had an angsty teenage phase where I wrote some truly terrible poems, but I very rarely read it, unless it was assigned for a class. It felt obscure, the meaning hidden by a screen of white space. There just weren’t enough words. (I am, perhaps obviously, a wordy person and have tended to novels – both reading and writing – over short stories and novellas.)
When I came across the Mary Oliver poem I shared, though, I was struck. She spoke of feelings I had experienced, with a clarity and preciseness that left the words lingering in my heart long after I read it. “When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder if I have made of my life something particular, and real. … I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.”
I felt that particular rising in my heart, a vibration as the words resonated. Yes – so many years I had let go by ‘simply visiting’ the world. While I was doing what I was *supposed* to do – the good grades, the fine job, the husband, the house, the dogs, the kids. But there was something missing. When I wasn’t working, or taking care of the kids I was watching too much TV, drinking too much wine. Checked out. My soul was desert soil, cracked and parched.
“I want to say all my life I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.” This was what I needed to find in myself. It took work to access, beneath everything I had piled on top. In this space of possibility, I began to play – first with coloring books and colored pencils and pens. I went on nature walks with my phone and took pictures of the beauty I found. I picked up yarn and knitting needles I had bought ages ago and never learned to use, and taught myself to knit with YouTube videos. Then I took a breath and bought a canvas, paint brushes and began to reacquaint myself with paint. When I was a kid I loved watercolor. I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. Instead I decided that because I would never be Picasso or Monet there would be no way I could be an artist, so I stopped painting all together. Stopped by ‘not-good-enough’, I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I began to play again.
In all of these ways, color began to seep into my life. My soul soaked in the joy of creation. Writing is still my true love and I make time to connect to it regularly. But when the Inner Critics are too loud or I’m stuck on a particular scene, or simply for the joy of it, I go to the coloring book, the canvas, the knitting needles. And create.