I have understood the power of metaphor since the space before time: the liminal backdrop on which our lives are painted, or a projection screen that catches the scenes as they play out day to day.
Metaphor helps us understand the profound feelings we carry with us throughout our lives. It is imperative that we make meaning of those feelings, and metaphor- the written/spoken word, and the creative marks we make give “form to the formless”. There is no better way to understand what the sensations in our bodies, or the words we attach to them, really want us to know. This process allows us to go beyond our habits of interpretation and deflection, and awakens new worlds of understanding that may bring richly creative perspectives to our lives.
The metaphors of my life amass around me, waiting patiently for attention. They have lives of their own, spinning tales of fancy that may or may not be heard. The myriad of paintings leaning against the walls, or the lines of poetry, and notes of phrases, all lurking in computer files, have stories to be told. How to tell those stories in a way that does their meanings justice?
All of this is what drew me to study art therapy. (See what I did there?) I knew the power that externalizing my unconscious feelings had on my own path to wellness. And being able to literally see the representation of my deepest, darkest places, gave new perspective to those sensations, allowing them to find new life in the processes of art therapy. Sometimes an image needed to be destroyed in a ball of fire, and sometimes it needed gentle framing and reframing to transform into the beauty it was meant to be.
So: moving day.
I posted a photo of my home space being transformed into a deliciously, AND unbearably quiet home after my daughter’s family moved out. I hoped that the photo would not give the impression that I was celebrating the move. In fact, it has been a win- win situation, and has provided me with feelings that are ‘both- and’.
I have spent the better part of two weeks setting up my new office/ studio space (that doubles as guest/ youngest son’s room), hoping to create a focused place to work and create. I also left a warm, sunny, and calm space for my husband to claim as his own refuge. (It will take on the refuge vibe once I paint the BRIGHT blue walls of our youngest son’s childhood.) The physical space and the de- cluttering of chaos was essential to giving my thoughts and feelings free reign to express themselves. I have a favorite quote from Shaun McNiff’s book “Art Heals”, it is a guiding principle for me in my private work and also the work I do with others.
…Order must be lost so that it can be regained, and nothing is constant within this formative flux. Chaos theory has revealed that fragmentation leads to new and higher levels of organization, which is practically a definition of the creative process. (p. 213- 214)
(I would be completely remiss here, if I didn’t express the gratitude I have to my daughter and son- in- law for both the sweat and expense they expended in building the space in the first place, and also for helping me to corral the mess and furniture that needed moving.)
The layers of metaphor go far beyond the physical, tangible place in which I am sitting. I have barely scratched the surface of understanding the ways in which the language I used has impact on my continued dive into the healing portal of art therapy. My darkest, deepest places are asking that I continue to explore my meanings, as the profundity pulls me both in and out of my self- a praxis of breathing- creating- working with others…
I painted a watercolour doodle the other evening. It was right at the end of the larger, most essential parts of my physical move. I still have no real idea what it is; just that there is movement and energy that reaches off the paper and invites me to keep going. While movement and colour abound, the energy and sense of the piece are soft and welcoming. It is not the end of ‘moving day’, but rather the pause in which I can reflect, and step back for a new perspective on what my next steps will be.