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  • The Poesy of Side Effects

    This is another entry in 's "Dark Poetry for the Cruellest Month,," this one titled "The Poesy of Side Effects." 

    It was supposed to be funny--you know all those crazy commercials we hear on TV about our heads exploding from side effects--and that's how this picture started out. But the muse had other ideas, as usual, and the bunny's thoughts of side effects were hardly humorous. To those who don't know me, I need to be medicated for a blood clotting disorder daily, and it's not fun.

    But at least the art that comes out of it can be! The bunny may be sad, but the piece is still whimsical...I think. :)

    This piece slowed me down on all the others, Magaly, so I'll try to pick up this week and just move forward.

  • Magaly's Birthday Dirge

    Today is the second prompt in 's "Dark Poetry for the Cruellest Month," where we are asked to write Magaly a birthday dirge, which is best described as a dark birthday poem. Here's mine, accompanied by a massive doodle from my sketchbook:

    Oh sweet Magaly, who takes away my breath

    The joy of your birth will be matched only by your death!

    When we will sing, Happy Death Day!, with a cake for our fiercest poet

    And say, "This is delicious! Too bad she doesn't know it."

    Everyone knows this is a joke, right? That I really don't want Magaly dead? lol!

  • The Cruellest Month

    I'm participating in an online poetry event, called "Dark Poetry for the Cruellest Month," headed by . Today's (okay, yesterday's) prompt, "Has It Begun to Sprout?", asked us to pick a line from T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land and write our own poem around it.

    I decided to do a color sketch in my notebook to interpret "April is the cruellest month," then ran out of time to add any verbiage to it. I have to say, I'm really feeling the line, as my winter was particularly rough, and these bright April days don't seem to match the weariness I'm feeling. The sun makes me feel like I should be out playing, not brooding. Hopefully, the Vitamin D will soon brighten my mood, but not before this event is over, as we're supposed to write about "the dark bits that grow in the heart," according to Magaly. I love it!

    Indeed, Magaly's poem event seems to have come in the nick of time.

    So this piece is simply titled "The Cruellest Month." Magaly's prompts are coming fast and furious, so I don't know that I'll be able to keep up, but I'm going to try!

  • The Biggest Pill

    The pain levels in my face have been raging for the last week or two, and once again, I am overwhelmed. If it were only the pain, and I could still carry on with my life, I might be able to handle it, but it comes with debilitating side effects:  the staggering fatigue that the painkillers cause, the inability to move ahead with dreams and plans, the interruption of creativity and my social life, and, of course, depression.

    But probably what's worst about living with chronic pain is that there's really no happy ending in store when it's all over, because in the world of chronic anything, it's, well, never over. I recently watched the movie "Wild," about the journey of Cheryl Strayed (played by Reese Witherspoon), who after the death of her mother decided to walk the Pacific Crest Trail as a means of redeeming all of the bad choices she'd made in her life...her promiscuity, which destroyed her loving marriage; her drug abuse, which included shooting heroin; and an unwanted pregnancy, which resulted in an abortion.

    While the movie was wonderfully made, criss-crossing the past and present in Cheryl's mind as she made this ungodly 3,000-mile trek, it clearly was telling yet another incarnation of the hero's journey, where someone heads out into a dangerous world in one state of mind, goes through all kinds of trials and challenges, and at the end is redeemed. That story is as old as writing itself, most likely, and Americans are particularly fond of it, as we love to believe that so much of our destiny is within our reach, if we only have the courage and gumption to go after it. With a can-do attitude and a solid work ethic, we can achieve our dreams, no matter what our past was like, and somehow be made whole again, particularly if we can cleanse our spirits along the way and find communion with whatever higher power works for us.

    It's all such an inspiring notion, unless, of course, you're living in chronic pain. In this kind of life, fairy tales don't apply, nor do bible verses, motivational speakers, or self-help books of any kind. Perhaps one of the most painful emotional aspects of this particular journey is that there are no paths blazed before me to tell me what to do or how to get out of this, or what the goddamned meaning of it all is. As humans, we just love meaning, and when none can be found, the loneliness is unlike any other. When things are going well, we can believe that some greater power is at work for us, but when senseless tragedy or agony occurs, never do we feel more abandoned, or worse, that there was never any greater power there in the first place. The illusion is totally shattered, and the clarity of it is heartbreaking.

    Chronic pain is such an unthinkable turn of events that when the healthy person thinks of it, he or she feels a chill and thoughts quickly turn to something else. I mean, what Greek writer ever penned a heroic tale about being crippled by an unrelenting pain condition for which there is no cure?  What great lessons are there to be learned about feeling tortured every fucking day, from the minute I wake up until the minute I go to bed? If some director were to ever film my life story, there would be no arc. There is no overcoming with chronic pain, no redemption, no beating the odds. Yes, there are days where it eases up, and my mind begins to race with plans as to what I want to accomplish, but inevitably it spikes again, crushing everything in its wake, and I'm once again consumed by disappointment.

    This cycle has played out over and over since 1999, most acutely since 2004, and I sometimes just don't know if I can take it anymore. I've often thought of going off the medication, just to see how much of the pain I could actually handle, as at least the fatigue part of my life would be gone. But to be honest, the pills, while I hate them, are also often a refuge. They don't make me high anymore (unfortunately), but they can create a soft place to crawl into, hateful as it turns out to be as I despise the sleep they induce, which robs so many hours of my life.

    I know that I've been gifted in many ways, and I treasue the many means of self-expression I can use to purge the misery of all this, if only for a few hours. I can get lost in writing a song or painting a picture, or even writing a blog entry, but the beast is there when I finish, and I feel so ruined, so useless and so full of a constant, seething rage that I know most likely makes matters worse, but how can  I undo that feeling? If I were to watch my child being tortured every day, I would be enraged every day. There's no coming to terms with it.

    And that's basically that. I've nowhere to go from here, other than to hope I get lucky and find a cure or to live out the remainder of my days which will all most likely look exactly like this one. There will be no great moment of redemption, no celebration of overcoming, no slaying of the beast, no raising of my arms to the sunrise in victory. I've searched far and wide for answers, have had countless surgeries, have tried every alternative treatment, and so far nothing has helped. Every few years, a discussion board pops up on the web for people similarly afflicted and it will buzz along for a year or two, but it ultimately dies out when everyone realizes there are no fixes for this. We just have to go on the best we can, unless we take our own lives, which I've known some patients on these boards to actually do. I'm at the point now where I realize that the best I can hope for is that I will get lucky and someone out there, finally, will be able to help me.

    That's really what it comes down to. Luck. If I've learned nothing else from this experience, it's that luck is a much bigger driving force in what happens to us in this life than we'd like to admit, and that's a scary notion indeed. If the scales have tipped your way, and you're living a robust life filled with health, creativity and love, yes, you can pat yourself on the back to a certain extent for all of your hard work. But don't think for a minute that it all can't change in an instant through no fault of your own and you'll find yourself irrevocably changed. Be grateful and run with it, for when the tables turn, sometimes there really is no way back, and there's just no swallowing that pill. unless it's the kind that takes you out for good.

    *********************

  • Little Finds

    I just started a new junk journal--the kind filled with sketches, to-do lists, poems, whatever--and so was scrolling through my previous one, which is extremely thick and thus two years old.

    I stumbled upon an untitled poem that I most likely wrote for my friend Liz, who was going through a tough time. Liz is my homie on Etsy--a woman I never met in person or even talked to on the phone--yet in the last couple of years has become a deeply valued friend, as we've shared so much of our lives with one another in emails. Rarely a week goes by that we don't at least check in, sometimes just water-coolering about our Etsy sales, yet at other times talking about the most intimate details of our lives. She holds a hallowed place in my life these days...this soul out in Illinois who knows so much about me (and I her), yet who I've only seen in pictures.

    When I found this poem, I knew I'd written it for her, although I can't recall the circumstances. At first I thought it corny, then funny, then true.

    Untitled

    I will hold you until it’s over

    Listen ‘til the tears fade

    Hope for you when you can hope no more

    Dream for you a better day

    So cry, complain and fail

    I’ll lie on the ground with you

    We’ll point at the stars, at the gods and the saints

    And say, fuck you, and fuck you, too…

    Fuck you for all the suffering

    Fuck you for all the pain

    We’ll fill our cup with shits & giggles

    And let love pour down like rain

    **********************************

    Written sometime in January 2015. c Mary Ann Farley.
  • Understanding Suicide

    Back in April of 2009, I posted the following blog entry about depression, titled "Understanding Suicide," on Salon's blog site. It eliclited a number of responses, mostly positive and compassionate, but there were some that still felt suicide was a "selfish" act, a stance that while understandable, I still find deeply troubling and incredibly frustrating. In the wake of Robin Williams' tragic suicide, I'll once again post this essay, only here on my own site, in the hopes of spreading the word that suicide is the fatal outcome of a disease called depression, not a morally corrupt choice.

    ******************************************************************

    During the past few weeks or so, I've noticed that on some mornings, I've been waking in a state of depression, which is a bit alarming as I know all too well just how devastating a full-blown clinical depression can be. 

    Obviously, I'm struggling deeply with the wear of chronic physical pain, and my brain chemistry is starting to give way, just like it did five years ago when an infection, which I thought had been cured two years earlier after 18 months of agony, took up residency in my jaw and face again (and has been there ever since). 

    As any hope for a cure seemed so hopeless back then, I slowly began to sink into a hole so black, so absolute, that all roads seemed to point to just one solution if I was ever going to get out of pain, and that solution was suicide. This led to a stint in the local hospital's psych ward, and then a few weeks later, admission to a psychiatric hospital.

    With all of the physical complications I've endured as a result of this blood disorder, frequently spending weeks in the hospital at a time, I can say with absolute certainty that nothing--nothing--is as painful as a major clinical depression. And nothing, it seems, is as misunderstood by so many, particularly when it's accompanied by suicidal ideation.

    For most people, suicide is unthinkable, so when a loved one takes his or her own life, we can get lost in a state of confusion and anger. I recall reading a book by a psychiatrist a few years ago who'd lost both of his sons in a 13-month period--one was a six-year-old who'd died of cancer and the other was a teenage boy who'd killed himself. 

    What was shocking, aside from the obvious tragedy of losing two children in such a short amount of time, was that the doctor talked little about his teenager, saying only that suicide was the ultimate "selfish" act, and he chose instead to write about his six-year-old, as the younger boy's ordeal was most likely easier to understand. The boy was, in a sense, an innocent victim of his disease, unlike his "selfish" brother who took his own life. 

    I remember feeling such shock that this esteemed psychiatrist, of all people, didn't understand the fatal power of depression.

    A few years ago, I was hired as a freelance medical editor for a few months, and I was lucky enough to edit tons of the latest materials about depression and suicide. Perhaps what's most misunderstood about clinical depression is that it's not just a state of malaise or of feeling blue; it's a medical disease that if left untreated will only worsen throughout one's lifetime.

    In the same way that Type II diabetics cannot absorb their own insulin, when clinical depression occurs, receptors in the brain close, and a person can no longer absorb their own serotonin, along with some other key chemicals. 

    Why this shutdown happens is still a mystery. Take, for example, a set of twins, both raised by the same parents in the same circumstances. In response to a tragedy, one twin will go through a normal grief period while the other will go into a major depression, and no one knows why. All that's known is that a person simply cannot function without these crucial brain chemicals, and the act of suicide is simply a way to get out of excruciating psychic pain.

    In my own case, before I got depressed, I was going through one of the happiest periods of my life. For years I'd worked to get myself to a place where I'd perfectly balanced my work life (freelance writing and editing) and my creative life (songwriting and painting), and felt more inspired and joyous than I had in years.

    This is what made the sudden return of chronic pain so devastating, and what ultimately made my receptors close to the very chemicals so necessary to live.

    It's hard to describe suicidal depression, but essentially, it's a loss of control over our own emotional state. Ordinarily, when one is down or feeling blue, there are things that can lift the spirit, like inspirational readings, listening to music, and talking with others. But when one is clinically depressed, absolutely nothing works to lift the darkness, and slowly the will to live can begin to erode.
    In the same way one in chronic pain can lose hope that anything will ever change, the depressed patient also loses hope for a cure, and a battle surfaces between our primal will to survive and an aching desire to no longer feel this hell on earth.

    In that sense, the act of suicide is the fatal outcome of a deadly disease, not a moral choice by the patient. Far from being selfish or cowardly, when a depressed patient reaches the decision to end his or her own life, nothing is more harrowing or frightening, because there's the realization that pain has overrode the fundamental desire to live. It's hard to imagine that anything in life could be that painful, but unfortunately, these states exist, and the last thing we should do is judge someone in this unthinkable quandary.

    In my own case, I knew that I'd reached the limits of my endurance five years ago when I awoke one morning and felt no love whatsoever for anyone in my life anymore (even my mom), as every emotion had become eclipsed by pain. I was shocked at this revelation, because I knew the things that had been keeping me alive--namely the desire to not hurt anyone in my family--were no longer operating. I intuitively knew that I had about 24 hours left to live, and so I called a suicide hotline, which in turn called an ambulance for me, even though my local hospital is just two blocks away.

    That's how bad I was; I couldn't even walk this short distance, as every ounce of energy was going into just staying alive and not swallowing the bottle of pills that offered permanent relief.

    In time (four agonizing weeks or so), the antidepressants began to work, but not everyone is so lucky, particularly those who've struggled with depression repeatedly in their lives. Studies have shown that clinical depression actually damages the brain, and if left untreated, the illness only gets worse throughout one's lifetime. As the years roll by, the depressions become more frequent, more severe, and require less stimulus to set them off. That's why intervention with medication as soon as possible is so paramount to healing.

    Studies have also shown that antidepressants can actually have a curative effect, meaning that if the first depression is treated with medication and therapy, the likelihood of it happening again decreases sharply.

    Of course, there are those patients who use a suicide attempt as a cry for help, or as a means to get attention, and some of them do end up dying. But for the patient who is suffering from severe and extended clinical depression, suicide is nothing more than a way out of a type of pain that can never really be put into words.

    I've heard it said that suicide is "a permanent solution to a temporary problem," but this isn't quite accurate, at least in terms of a major clinical depression. For some, the problem is debilitating and lifelong, and for these patients, suicide is the means to finally rest, even at the cost of life itself.

    ****************************************

  • I Didn't Win the Lottery, But It's Close!

    Boy, ya never know what's around the corner. A few weeks ago, I received a few notifications all at once from a woman named Jennifer, who said she was interested in buying a huge amount of my art on behalf of a pharmaceutical company, who would then like to exhbit said art in New Orleans in December at the National Hematology Convention, with me in attendance.

    Huh?

    My knee-jerk reaction was that she was an art scammer, as these diabolical people often approach you by name and even know the names of your artworks. But then it hit me--how would a scammer also know that I had a serious blood clotting disorder?

    It turns out Jennifer was real, and there was even more to the story. The company, Incyte, also wanted me to attend a breakfast in Times Square on Sept. 3, where I would be part of the ringing the NASDAQ bell to kick off Blood Cancer Awareness Month. Not only did they buy two of my prints to exhibit at the breakfast that morning (at the Intercontinental Hotel, no less), but they also sent a car to drive me to and from the event!

    And to put the cherry on top, for a few brief seconds, my smiling mug loomed over Times Square on the NASDAQ jumbotron during a series of photos taken during the ceremony just moments prior. Everything about that morning defined the very essence of the word delightful.

    But I'd be lying if I said I also didn't feel a slight discomfort about it all, as the bottom-line reason for my involvement was because of my illness, thus making it a bit more real to me than it already is. Believe me...this pain is real, as I live with it every second of every day, but there's also a small part of me that lives in denial that I'm a sick person. I'm not quite sure what I mean by that, as this pain rules just about every aspect of my life, and I've been quite open about it, both in my art and in my writing. I guess it's just hard to admit that it's now become woven into the very fabric of who I am, which on the one hand is a good thing, as it means I've accepted it, but it also brings up the latent anger that's always just beneath the surface, as it's something that has been thrust upon me. I did not choose to get sick or to be chronically in pain, nor would I ever have wanted this to be the way that my work would gain any kind of attention.

    When I saw my face up there on the NASDAQ jumbotron, it was certainly a wonderful kick, but it could not have been any bigger of a reminder of the enormous role this illness now plays in my life. It has become part of my identity, as proven by my looming presence over Times Square for those few moments on Sept. 3.

    While standing there, I couldn't quite understand why I was feeling tears well up in my eyes, but now I know. This illness is real, and it's a permanent part of me now. God willing, the upcoming Oct. 2 surgery on my jaw will help ease this terrible pain, if not rid me of it entirely, as it's been with me for over ten years now. A decade is a big chunk of a person's life. While I'm thrilled to be a part of this whole New Orleans extravaganza, how much MORE wonderful it would be if I attended it pain-free. Should that come to pass, I do believe my smile could once again light up Times Square, only this time without the use of a jumbotron.

  • Musings From the Brooding Aftermath

    A fellow member in my pain support group reached out to all of us recently as she was having one of those unbearable days. I went digging through my old blog, where I chronicled for three years my own journey with pain, in the hopes of finding something that might uplift her somehow. This post isn't particularly cheerful, but sometimes we don't need inspiration as much as connection. I sent it along and hope it helped. (I don't know her personally.) I'm reposting it here. (Original post date: November 6, 2009.

    ***************************************************** 

    Ever since I can remember, I've always questioned the meaning of life, even as a teenager, which back then made me think that I was insane...seriously. While all of my friends seemed to go about the daily business of boys, school, skin issues and just general life, I always had a type of tape loop going in the back of my brain, wondering why any of us were here, and wondering why everyone else wasn't wondering the same.

    Of course, I was also hiding my depression and OCD behavior back then, as well as the dark goings-on at home, so I'm sure that added to my questions about the meaning of it all.issues and just general life, I always had a type of tape loop going in the back of my brain, wondering why any of us were here, and wondering why everyone else wasn't wondering the same.

    But I was never able to just enjoy life with ease, as the plaguing questions about it seemed to thwart its pleasures. Don't get me wrong: I liked having fun, and had the detention notes to prove it. But there was this inner brooding during my teen years that could only be pierced by art, in any of its forms, and so my life-long love affair with music, painting, books and film began, as the artists in these fields were at least asking the same questions as I was, and in their work I could find a camaraderie of sorts.

    My first true encounter with art as enlightenment came as a double-whammy in nearly identical experiences. In each case, I was sitting in my living room, my face just a few feet from the TV screen, during two different family affairs where noise and conversation made me sit close to the set.

    The first film was Midnight Cowboy, and the second, The Graduate, the former being the more intense experience, as I recall.

    During those difficult days, there was little in my world that I could connect to, as I knew I didn't want the life my parents and relatives had chosen, as no one in my world seemed very happy. I thought something was just fundamentally wrong with marriage as an institution, as opposed to what was the real culprit: everyone's inability to say what they were really thinking and feeling. In hindsight, a life mate and kids might have been wonderful experiences for me, but in the kids department, I think it's fair to say that ship has sailed. I do hope some wonderful romance is in my future.

    That aside, I remember that by the end of Midnight Cowboy, I felt so moved, and perhaps for the first time, so connected to this strange earthly plane that beforehand had felt so meaningless. Here was a story about two people who felt so forsaken themselves, who had been cast off by society, living in their perspective dreamworlds that held little hope for anything more than what they could eek out on that particular day. They were outcasts, oddballs, losers and lost, just like me, no matter what my good grades, quick smile and bevy of friends might have suggested otherwise.

    Suddenly I realized that a whole other world existed out there than the one I lived in...a world where people not only thought about the greater questions of life, but actually created something from them that made us all feel just a little closer, if only through our compassion for these characters and their plight.


    Of course, The Graduate spoke loud and clear to me, as well, as what young person couldn't identify with Dustin Hoffman's Benjamin Braddock, who was also seeking something more meaningful than what the culture around him could offer. Even though his world was of the white collar variety (and mine, blue), the issues were universal, and I will be forever grateful to these filmmakers and screenwriters for doing whatever it took to get these stories to the screen.


    I suppose it's not surprising that as I was to go on to become a singer/songwriter, my songs would be so story-based. As some reviewers would observe, the songs wouldn't so much tell the story as to suggest it; the lyrics were the words going through the characters' heads in "the brooding aftermath" of what had just occurred, according to one (thank you, Linus Gelber).

    Of course, my music is behind me now, even though I still pick up the guitar now and then. Yet there seems to be some kind of curious irony happening that the questions I asked about life's meaning as a teenager are as profound as they ever were, only now the result of an untreatable pain condition. At its very core, the unfathomableness of this experience (and those like it) flies in the face of any argument that declares the human experience as one of destiny and inherent meaning.

    The one thing I can truly believe, though, the one thing that has been so sustaining this past year, is that while the experience of pain may indeed be meaningless, I can choose to give it meaning, when I'm able, by writing this blog.

    I've been gifted with the ability to write, to communicate, and while I haven't been able to muster up a single tune about this awful experience, I have been able to get it down here, to at least attempt an explanation of what it's like, if for no other reason than to give voice to an ordeal that has rendered too many mute, some permanently.

    This condition carries the awful nickname of "the suicide disease," as so many patients simply give up when they exhaust all avenues for relief; that's how bad it is.

    But there is something in me that feels compelled not to give in, to continue to be the private eye who will solve the case, if not to get out of pain, then to discover a means to gracefully weave it into my life, if that's even possible.

    It's as though I can't let my pain-mates down, which in many ways has been the thrust of so many of my creative pursuits over the years, even before I found myself in these particular dire straits. I must at least try to speak for us, and try even harder to solve the riddle of how to live when the unthinkable happens. I'm not sure if that earns me a gold star, or just an inflated ego for a short while as yet another coping mechanism that, like so many others, will ultimately give way under the weight and wear of all things relentless.

    I hurt so bad today, and I've got just one Vicodin left until tomorrow. And it's only 12:39 p.m. as I write this.

    Maddone.

    *********************************

    Artwork images are selections from my illustrated journal.

  • Sweet Darla Finds Her Forever Home!

    During the ten weeks I cared for my sweet blind foster kitten, Darla, I was worried sick as to how she would fare in a home other than mine.

    When she first arrived at three months old, the little monkey had been in hospital cages her whole life, so not once had she walked free in an open space. When she was first let out of her carrier, HCAL president Kathleen and I literally crawled on the floor with her to show her the short route from her food bowl in the kitchen to the litter box in the bathroom. And as she was blind, she had to learn how to jump on and off furniture, and how to mentally map the layout of my apartment.

    I could help her with certain things, just using my common sense, but for the most part she was on her own, and I was soon astounded at how quickly she adapted and became a normal kitten, just playing, snuggling and getting in trouble at every turn.

    But all along, I would worry endlessly as to how Darla would adapt to a new home.

    Well, I needn't have, as she's doing splendidly with her new family, and she hasn't even been there a week yet!  Early reports are wonderful...that she's exploring her new space with confidence, and is "endlessly curious" about her three new feline sisters! As this photo attests, Darla is having a grand old time, which means that this story has a very happy ending indeed.

    As I posted Darla's story everywhere as her surgeries progressed, I hope she helped change a few minds as to how well a blind cat can do in a loving home. The "special needs" of a blind kitty are nothing more than some noisy toys.

    I'm going to miss my little monkey, but knowing that she's sleeping safe and sound with such a loving family truly puts my fears to rest. Thanks to you all for your loving support. (If comments aren't activated below, click headline.)

     

     Darla, right, seems quite relaxed with her new sister, Drusy.

  • "Am I Good Enough?": Cracking the Creative Block

    I’ve been feeling so burnt out lately, so naturally I’ve been telling myself that I need a vacation, along with the usual chestnuts like “I’m working too hard,” “my efforts are outweighing my returns,” “I’m just not good enough at this”—this being my art, my business acumen, my general ability at simply living. Ah yes, it’s been a few weeks of this, which coupled with my increasing chronic jaw pain, has made for a bit of a rough start to summer. 

    But in slowing my brain down a bit, I think the truest bell ringing is in that last comment…”I’m just not good enough at this.” It became apparent when I sat down recently to do some new works and experienced the horror that strikes fear in the hearts of writers and artists everywhere...the monstrous blank page, and not a single inspired idea to fill it.

    I was actually surprised that this was occurring, as I'd been feeling just so READY to start painting again, after months of working on my shop to the exclusion of just about everything else.

    As I was feeling such left-brain burnout, I thought for sure the watercolors would come flowing out of me, so I sharpened the pencils, opened the paints, opened the watercolor tablet, and then…nothing. Oh, dear. No matter how many times I began a drawing, I just felt so dead inside.  I wasn’t inspired, I began to feel weary, and then the dreaded, “I’m not good enough” surfaced, bringing with it a detailed list of all my limitations, failures and insecurities. 

    But something just occurred to me in the past hour or so, which is that when I began painting in 1999, I could have cared less if my paintings were “good enough.” I’d look into my heart at what I was feeling, and I’d just let it come out through the brush. And that’s all there was to it. I was so excited by the discovery of this new art form—after so many years of making music—that this brush in my hand made a childlike glee burst forth from within. Even though the paintings were crudely done and technically inept, they resonated for people, and they actually sold, not because they were “good enough,” but because they were awkwardly honest, just like so many of the art lovers looking at them. 

    So here I am today, in terrible pain, feeling weary and so very insecure. Instead of beating myself up over it, why don’t I just paint it? Why does one have to feel happy or confident to begin a work of art? The other day I painted some cheerful birds, and they’re certainly cute, but they didn’t come from my core. They were more an exercise in color, which is certainly valid, but the real joy of painting comes from my communication of an experience. 

    Is this what’s at the heart of the matter today? I won’t know until I try, right? It’s time to do a drawing… 

    (P.S.  A second look at the “cute birds” painting, above, just moments ago made me smile, not because they’re cute, but because of what they unintentionally reveal.  They’re sitting on their respective branches with eyes closed, looking shut down, and it’s raining. So much for cheerfulness. The subconscious is always at work.)

     

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